Dutch Tribute Band: Eminent Hipsters

Eminent Hipsters isn’t only a book written by Donald Fagen, it’s also the name of a Dutch Steely Dan tribute band in Groningen, the most northern province in the Netherlands close to neighbor Germany alongside Groningen’s east border. The band will perform on Sunday April 15, 14:30 hrs Statenzaal at the Drents Museum, where you can visit an art exposition about American Realism called The American Dream. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, so we just went to their website and found a short and crisp biography:

The band Eminent Hipsters originated from a passionate love for the music of Steely Dan, the non-categorizeable pop group that was formed in 1972 by the eminent hipsters Donald Fagen (vocals, keys) and Walter Becker (guitar, vocals). Songs like “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”, “Josie”, “Deacon Blues” and “Reelin’ In The Years” became major hits.

The music of Steely Dan is an amalgam of jazz, rhythm & blues and pop with a ‘westcoast’ mix. The often sarcastic and literary lyrics are charteristic, containing black humour. Well-known albums are “Aja” en “Gaucho”, moretheless perfect studio productions that took Becker en Fagen long. The best studio musicians were hired to record their parts for days. The parts then might be deleted by them.. The result is a discography that had stood time wonderfully and is excellent in sound and quality.

Pianist Tony Hoyting, big Steely Dan adept and long-time fan, decided to join forces with pianist and SD-lover Felix Degenaar. Together they formed in 2015 the Steely Dan tribute band “Eminent Hipsters”, as a tribute to this American phenomenon.

Steely Dan being on the frontier between jazz, pop and rock, one has to be very knowledgeable to create a worthy tribute. Everything should be perfect, there are no shortcuts!

So they knew to get the musical crème-de-la-crème of Groningen and surroundings in their 14-piece formation.

The band plays a fitting summary of the Steely Dan-repertoire as well as tracks from the solo albums of Donald Fagen.

Steve Jansen on Bandcamp

Oh how we love embedded players! Scroll down to press play and then come back to continue reading ;-). Steve Jansen is one of the founding members of the band Japan. If you have grey hair or no hair left at all, you will probably remember their somewhat extravagant features on the brim of the 70s and 80s that jumpstarted quite the opposite of a Quiet Life. They entered the recorded music scene with Adolescent Sex in 1978 and you guessed it, an album title like that did stir the pot of controversy in a generally conservative society.

Minimalism
Their fifth and final studio album Tin Drum (1981) received a BBC Radio 6 award for Best Album of 1981, thirty years after its release. To put in perspective of what was happening musically back then, Steely Dan‘s Gaucho was released a year prior in 1980 marking a change in style as some say. Gaucho was more focused on minimalism, groove and atmosphere compared to their earlier records. Donald Fagen‘s Nightfly (1982) was his first solo release after he and Walter Becker split up in 1981, ending their collaboration as Steely Dan until they recorded and released Two Against Nature (2000), two decades later.


Connections
So we move fast forward to the present, kind of. You can read more about Steve Jansen in a bio on his website or via other sources, and as such also listen to collaborative projects with, for example, Yukihiro Takahashi, drummer and co-founder of the Yellow Magic Orchestra. A few days ago various Todd Rundgren incarnations were in heavy rotation professing of the man’s utter genius over and over again, so we were pleasantly surprised to find his I Saw The Light on Takahashi’s Once A Fool album (1985). And it’s not as if we are looking for a Steely connection in everything, but we remember from the old Mizar5 days a rare sighting of Walter Becker at the Avatar Studios where Elliot Scheiner was mixing Porcupine Tree’s latest release at the time, In Absentia (2002). If you click the Avatar Studios link, you can see Walter in a picture with Elliot, along with Richard Barbieri and Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree). Click the image below for a large version.

The most unlikely Porcupine Tree fan ever?

Japan 2.0
Keyboardist Richard Barbieri was also a Japan band member and he and Steve Jansen formed The Dolphin Brothers who released one album in 1987, and a few EP’s. The both of them continued to collaborate from time to time and recorded a number of albums, among which Stone To Flesh (1995) that was re-mastered in 2015. And we also can’t ignore the excellent 2 Meter Sessions hosted by Jan Douwe Kroeske in the Netherlands which since its inception in 1987 is still going strong. You can see Steve Jansen, Richard Barbieri and Mick Karn† in the 2 Meter studio.

Steve Jansen photography
We now like to go straight to Steve Jansen’s very own music because it truly speaks louder than words. However louder, that’s not really an appropriate characterization to describe his work and creativity. Apart from recording music, or sounds, also in collaboration with his brother David Sylvian, Steve has a knack for photography and produced a book which enables the viewer a unique opportunity to travel back in time, the 80s to be exact, and to witness the Japan era: Through A Quiet Window.

You can check out his entire music catalogue at the Bandcamp page: https://stevejansen.bandcamp.com/

Happy 70th Birthday, Donald Fagen!

Donald Fagen plays keyboard / In The Basement video

To turn 70 and not have retired in this wild business of rock ‘n’ roll, is always something to have the utmost respect for. Donald Fagen turns 70 today, and as you probably know by now, Steely Dan and their compadres The Doobie Brothers are promising a Hot Summer of Living Dangerously! For tour dates, visit their respective websites or Facebook pages.

We however would like to zoom into another aspect of mr. Fagen’s musical career! Five years ago, which happens to have been on January 2, 2013, we posted about Donald’s collaboration with a band of young musicians, Oh Whitney. If it doesn’t ring any bells, and you would like to flash back and read this Time Out of Mind article about how Oh Whitney and Donald Fagen met, go ahead. Take all the time you need 😉

Managed to catch up? GOOD!! Let’s commence today’s celebration then!

Peter More was Oh Whitney’s frontman. With his band (Lead Guitar / Jose Juan Poyatos, Bass / Diego Noyola and Drums / Adrien Faunce) he took to the studio to record a new album, produced by none other than Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen! Now Walter Becker was known for his production work with artists like Michael Franks, Rickie Lee Jones, China Crisis, Fra Lippo Lippi, Rosie Vela, John Beasley and Krishna Das, next to other musical collaborations. Donald Fagen did co-produce Becker’s 11 Tracks of Whack album, as Becker was involved in Fagen’s Kamakiriad, but he was more involved in writing scores for soundtracks and writing columns than engage himself in production stints. It can also easily be overlooked he loves hardcore jazz, to which this Thelonius Monk tribute with guitarist Steve Khan and Donald Fagen on synthesizer may testify. His affiliation with writing music for others can be distilled from this anecdotal article about comedians Nick Kroll and John Mulaney (yes, it’s Steely Dan related).

We’d like you to see this official Peter More video, which includes Donald Fagen as a producer and keyboardist. “It was inspiring watching Donald in the studio as he produced the record, playing keys throughout and mapping vocal harmonies.” Peter More says in an interview. Happy 70th birthday, maestro! Here’s to much more than a summer of living dangerously!

A daughter’s tribute – Sayan Becker

Instagram

“You loved music more than anyone I know. You’re always there bobbing your head to each beat, doing a little dance here and there, or sitting over there with your big head phones on and swaying back and forth. I could see it, your dissecting the song — listening in closely for each beat , for each musical instrument — you know, whatever you musicians do. But I get it.

Every road trip without fail came The Pit Stop at some guitar store. Heck, dad, I keep telling you why don’t you just own your own store? Five hours go by as I sit watching you fiddle with a guitar here and there…yet you never end up buying one. I understand though; it was your fun place, like an arcade; playing all you can, and as loud as you can. Your candy shop.”

Continue reading here >> A daughter’s tribute – Sayan Becker

Walter Becker 1950 – 2017

We will perhaps try to post a better suited tribute or such tomorrow, but right now we’re just bummed out. Condolences to Walter’s family, close friends and the Steely Dan Band.

If you seek solace or some sort of consolation, you can browse the many Instagram posts and comments (click image), or visit the Bluebook.
And Rickie Lee Jones wrote a memorial for the Rolling Stone:

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/read-rickie-lee-jones-poignant-tribute-to-walter-becker-w501078

French Steely Dan tribute!

Students of the Conservatory in Paris playing the music of Steely Dan. We’re not going to translate what they say in the video, just let the music speak volumes!
For more music, pictures and interviews, visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/steelydantributepolemaparis

“Reportage “Steely Dan Tribute” au Pan Piper le 3 avril 2017.
Concert des étudiants du CRR de Paris Jazz & Musiques Actuelles Amplifiées.”

Support a Funeral for Nigey Lennon

https://www.youcaring.com/nigeylennon-694718 (feel free to share this link!)

Nigey passed away Monday, November 14 due to complications from radiation therapy she received in 1998. She survived the cancer, but not the treatment. She thought she was fighting a virus, but instead she was fighting a battle she couldn’t win.

Like a lot of creative people who choose the artists’ path, our friend Nigey and her husband Eric depleted their resources during the course of her nigey-lennon-candleillness.With this fundraiser we aim to cover the expenses for a funeral. Please do what you can and share to get the word out.

It’s her wish to be buried at Northport Rural Cemetery. In a bio-degradable cardboard coffin. She didn’t want to be cremated. Maybe she liked the idea of becoming part of the soil, the land she cared for.

Can you, as her friends, make that wish come true?
The goal amount is provided by the Northport Rural Cemetery.
All donations will solely be used for Nigey’s funeral.

Paypal however, takes a fee for each donation via the fundraiser page. https://www.youcaring.com/nigeylennon-694718

If you’re in the USA and have a PayPal account, you can also send donations to me directly via https://www.paypal.me/GinaVodegel, and PayPal won’t take a fee. Every dollar will be for Nigey’s plot at Northport Rural Cemetery!!

If you’re in Europe, you can also send donations via https://www.paypal.me/GinaVodegel as my friend, that way no fees will be charged. I will keep you posted of each donation made, of course, via email and in updates with screenshots/pictures on the fundraiser page.

Thank you.

Nigey is known as a published author. She wrote “Sagebrush Bohemian,” the first book about Mark Twain in the West, Homeopathic Cell Salt Remedies (co-author Lionel Rolfe), “Being Frank,” her time spent with Frank Zappa, “Bread & Hyacinths” (co-author Lionel Rolfe) which illuminates an obscure chapter in the history of Los Angeles and America’s socialist movement, and a popular book about the Grandmaster of Pataphysics, Alfred Jarry, “The Man with the Axe” which was extensively illustrated by Bill Griffith, a famous underground comics artist who has had a daily strip (Zippy the Pinhead) for decades.

Her skills as a musician and composer resonate on her album Reinventing the Wheel which was first released in 2001. A remastered version with bonus tracks is in orbit since 2013. Providing these bits and pieces of her resume, however, don’t do justice to who she was as a person and a human being. Her wit and intuitive sense for the peripheral perspective in life gained her an inner encyclopedia of knowledge, a stealth mode that made her invisible and unknown to others, yet she saw and noticed a lot, if not all. Her return to the cosmic collective consciousness is a deep loss for those who love her.