Michael McDonald steps out with Cat Russell on Don't Mess Up a Good Thing

Star Tribune photo by Joel Koyama


Now that I’m out of the wind and rain, here are a few more thoughts about the Dukes of Disappointment’s performance Monday at the State Fair, beyond what was in my wind-aided review.
*The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue sounded, for the most part, like hired guns, until they came to the final six songs. Then they came across like a tour-tested band.
*Donald Fagen looked like he was wearing a sport coat from David Byrne’s wardrobe closet for “Stop Making Sense.”  Yes, Fagen shoulders a big burden as organizer, ringmaster and spokesman for the Dukes, but enough with the linebacker-sized shoulder pads.
*When Boz Scaggs buttoned up that plaid jacket to fight off the wind, he looked like Neil Young. And his voice had more noticeable Texas twang than usual all night long.
* Couldn’t tell you what Michael McDonald looked like because he was mostly obliterated by two music stands in front of his electric piano. Mike sang hard on his solo and duo selections. A different music stand blocked Fagen when he was doing standup singing.
* Cat Russell, not Carolyn Leonhart, should have sung Aretha’s Rock Steady. While Carolyn is a soulful screamer, her voice was small, especially in comparison to Russell’s. However, they were perfect backup vocalist partners.
*The Band’s King Harvest, about farm union organizers, seemed appropos to sing on Labor Day.
 * Because of the weather, Fagen called an audible and trimmed three tunes from the planned set list: Love Train (the O’Jays), Help Me Rhonda (Beach Boys) and Something In the Air (Thunderclap Newman).
Here is what the Dukes played:
Sookie Sookie (instrumental by backup band; Don Covay hit, 1965)/ Heighty Hi (all three Dukes sing; Lee Michaels, 1969)/ Don’t Mess Up a Good Thing (McDonald & Russell sing; Fontella Bass & Bobby McGuire, 1965)/ Shakedown Street (Fagen sings; Grateful Dead, 1978)/ You Never Can Tell (Boz sings; Chuck Berry, 1964)/ I Got News for You (McDonald sings; Ray Charles, 1961)/ Green Flower Street (Fagen, 1982)/ Miss Sun (Scaggs, 1981)/ I Keep Forgettin’ (McDonald, Doobie Brothers, 1982)/ Rock Steady (Carolyn Leonhart sings, Aretha Franklin 1971)/ King Harvest (Fagen sings, the Band, 1969) Rag Mama Rag (Scaggs sings, the Band, 1969) The Shape I’m In (McDonald sings, the Band, 1970)/ Love TKO (Scaggs sings, Teddy Pendergrass, 1980)/ I Love the Life I Live (Russell sings, Muddy Waters, 1957) Cadillac Walk (Scaggs sings, Mink Deville, 1977)/ What a Fool Believes (McDonald, Doobie Brothers, 1978)/ I.G.Y. (Fagen, 1982)/ Lowdown (Scaggs, 1976)/ Takin It to the Streets (McDonald and  Russell, Doobie Brothers, 1976) ENCORE Reelin in the Years (Fagen, Steely Dan, 1973)/ Them Changes (McDonald sings, Buddy Miles, 1970)