What real music sounds like

Steely Damned II will stage a rare performance at the Music Box on December 30

Steely Damned II: “We need to educate our kids on what real music sounds like.”
  • Steely Damned II: “We need to educate our kids on what real music sounds like.”

“It’s not an interpretation of Steely Dan,” says guitarist Hank Easton, whose tribute band Steely Damned II will stage a rare performance at the Music Box on December 30. “It’s like the records, but with an injection of energy that can really only be appreciated in a live club setting.”

Past Event

The Steely Damned 2 Holiday Show

  • Sunday, December 30, 2018, 6:30 p.m.
  • Music Box, 1337 India Street, San Diego
  • 21+ / $24 - $72

Easton, who has seen the real Steely Dan in concert around a half dozen times, says “I’ve never enjoyed their live shows very much. I’ve always wanted to hear more of what was on the original recordings. On their original produced recordings, the arrangements and solos are iconic. To me, as much a part of the song as the melody. Not reproducing them is kind of like a whacked out version of the national anthem. I believe there are places in the songs for improvisation, but I want to hear mostly what was put on the originally released recording, and I believe the audience does too. That’s our approach.”

For the New Year-themed event, “We’ve been busy learning some new tunes and revamping some of the usual ones. So, for this show, we’ve added a few songs we’ve never done before, and also a couple of tunes that aren’t by Steely Dan, which is something new for us. Also, we'll be doing a top ten countdown of Steely Dan’s most popular Billboard [charting] songs throughout the years.”

According to Easton, the Steely Damned (renamed II after co-founder Bob Tedde relocated from San Diego a few years ago) hasn’t seen the need to alter setlists after the death of Steely Dan’s Walter Becker last year, although “I sometimes do let people know the songs that featured his particular guitar solos.”

Hank Easton/Steely Damned: Steely Dan Guitar Solo Medley

One frequent set highlight is when Easton performs a jaw-dropping medley that faithfully reproduces the guitar solos from several Steely Dan guitarists, including Larry Carlton, Denny Diaz, Elliott Randall, Rick Derringer, and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, all done so accurately as to reflect each individual player's recognizable structure and style. The problem with booking gigs, however, has to do with the size and scope required of a band committed to reproducing such meticulous music. “The logistics of rehearsals, soundchecks, performance dates, and venues is by far the hardest thing to deal with...there are only a few venues we can play, and few opportunities for all of us to commit to playing together. This gig takes a village!”

The 14-piece group will include two relatively new additions. “My daughter Sofia and [saxophonist and flautist] Tripp Sprague’s daughter Kate are singing mostly harmonies, but I do have them share lead on one tune. There are many Steely songs that have four to seven parts on the chorus. Before I had them join us, some of the choruses were sounding a little thin vocally. They sounded awesome, and added some young energy and enthusiasm to the band. Plus, we need to educate our kids on what real music sounds like.”

Kids aren’t the only music fans who sometimes need an education. “One night, a fan was yelling out ‘play Brown Cow, play Brown Cow’ over and over. As you know, it’s ‘Black Cow.’ We had a good laugh over that. Another night, a lady requested ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ [a Van Morrison song].”

“I think we had her removed from the venue.”

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