Steely Dan Road Trip - Continued
The Gorge WA - June 2000The photo gallery. Copyright © 2000 by Randy Reichardt. All rights reserved.
First, the band was tight, solid and brilliant. What a pleasure to watch 13 musicians at the top of their craft and having fun at the same time. Solos were scattered throughout the show, as detailed in Matt and Amanda's set list. Jon Herington and Walter Becker traded solos, with Jon playing the edgier, crunchy ones and Walter executing the cleaner licks, without distortion. I decided early on that in another life I would like to emulate both of them in my playing. Ted Baker on keyboards played a very tasty short solo that began the second Janey Runaway ended and led to the opening notes of Josie, which simply cooked and rocked the joint! Ari Ambrose performed the end solo on West of Hollywood, which on Two Against Nature is played by Chris Potter (not to be confused with the actor Chris Potter). On the album, Potter's solo fades out as the record ends, but in the show, perhaps three minutes into the solo, the band stopped playing, the lights quit except for one shining on Ambrose as he continued to wail away by himself, the audience in his hands as he filled the Gorge with his sweet saxophone. A few seconds later, the band rejoined for a blistering finish and took a short break before beginning Set Two. We had learned that Dirty Work was sung by a different backup singer each night - this night it would be Carolyn Leonhart's turn. The intro was not the predictable e-piano, as on the record, but rather, a tasty set of shots by Jon Herington that barely gave away the tune. I was mesmorized by the simplicity and beauty of his playing, and when Carolyn started singing, it was pure magic.
One of the policies of The Gorge is that no "professional cameras" are allowed. Translation: you can bring your point-and-shoots, but no zoom lenses, kids! Well, as fate would have it, my brother had his zoom lens with him, (as did countless others, including some with small hand-held video cameras), and at one point in the first set he stood to take a shot, and was spotted by someone on the stage! This person radioed the local security, who swooped down on us during Do It Again, and after a couple of minutes, hauled Chris away. Chris, fighting a bad cold and loss of voice, returned after the first set, sans his zoom lens, handing me a note that read "Everything is fine". We would eventually recover the lens after the show, and the security goons were kind enought to let him keep the film. This was the first of two times Chris would get into trouble with The Man that night! :-)
The second set opened with Hank's Pad, a Henry Mancini tune, and when Becker and Fagen took the stage, they moved into The Royal Scam, Deacon Blues, Cousin Dupree, and more. When the set ended, Fagen thanked the crowd and advised us that they would "see you next year". He has apparently been saying this at every show, so our collective fingers are crossed. Will they return in 2001? A Dan Odyssey? I have been wondering about this ever since he said it, and if they do return to The Gorge, I hope to be there for a return visit. Like they say in Jamaica, if it's nice, do it twice.
The enGORGEment gang, divided up among our various seat assignments, eventually reconvened at the campground headquarters for follow up and further merriment of various sorts. Jim "Hoops" McKay was armed with his trusty video camera, with which he has been recording fan testimonials. I made a somewhat lame attempt to "sign" Dirty Work into the camera, using my limited working knowledge of American Sign Language. A number of these recordings will make their collective way to Hoops' dandom.com page Very Soon Now, or so he sez!
We continued to party until around midnight, or something like that. To be honest, I can't remember. But we did meet more interesting people, including Pete Fogel's partner, Shari, Hoops' partner Moonflower, and more people whose names all escape me. I hope you can forgive me for that! Suffice it to say, to be able to repair to the Technicolour Motorhome after the show and compare notes with like-minded people was a blessing.
Eventually we bid our goodbyes to all the fine folk, and began the drive back to Moses Lake. It's about a 30 minute drive, and we were both very exhausted. I was fighting a sore throat, and Chris was still in the midst of his battle with a bad cold virus. We pulled into town off I-90, and drove to our motel. As we were pulling into the parking lot, I noticed in the rear view mirror on the passenger side a police car with the cherries lit up. Chris continued into the parking lot until the police car blocked him. The officer approached the car, and immediately blasted us. Apparently he'd been following us for two blocks - why didn't we stop, damn it??? He told us that he was close to calling in backup because we wouldn't stop! Imagine - perhaps we would have been on Cops!
Chris pleaded innocence, he was sick, he didn't see him in the rear view mirror, but the cop would have none of it. He asked if we had liquor, tobacco, then asked what were we doing in town. I pulled the ticket stub out of my pocket and showed him, to which he replied with a terse (and I mean TERSE), "I believe you!". Away he went with Chris's licence, registration, etc., and eventually returned with a stern warning to us to pay closer attention to the speed limit (he said we were doing 42 mph in a 25 mph zone. Hey, we're from Canada - what's MPH, again? Soon he left, and I suggested to Chris that tonight he was stopped by The Man - TWICE!
Steely Dan Road Trip: Day 4, Sunday, June 4th
The next morning we loaded up Chris's Explorer, and headed back to Calgary, arriving there late in the evening. With memories both visual and musical, I headed to bed, and prepared for another immediate trip, this time to Bozeman MT for a conference at Montana State University, two days later. As I write this (July 17), said memories are still detailed and vivid, thanks in no small part to the many people mentioned above, including, of course, the band. If they make it back to The Gorge next year, I intend to be there again. It was too much fun to experience one time only.
- Randy Reichardt.