By Rozanna M. Martinez
Journal Staff Writer
Albuquerque, NM — Playing for Steely Dan for about 15 years never gets routine, according to the band’s guitarist Jon Herington.
The band always finds ways to switch it up during live shows even though some Steely Dan classics were written so well that Herington sometimes prefers to keep the music just as it was recorded.
Steely Dan core members Walter Becker and Donald Fagen give their touring band, which consists of three background vocalists, four horn players and a four-piece rhythm section, the ability to run with their music as long as it sounds good, according to Herington.
Becker and Fagen brought Herington into the studio in 1999 when they were finishing recording their Grammy-winning album Two Against Nature.
The studio session later led to Herington becoming part of Steely Dan’s touring band.
Herington said the rumors of Becker and Fagen being perfectionists in the studio and on tour have some merit, but for good reason.
“They do have that reputation,” Herington said. “They haven’t done anything to try to alter that because maybe it works for them. I think it’s a matter of finding people that you work well with and finding people who work well with them. I don’t find them inordinately fussy. The thing is, they’re fussy in a good way, like they want us to be in tune and in time. They like things to sound good musically. They are good values, and any good musician is going to subscribe to them.”
Herington said Becker and Fagen expect the band to know all the tunes and play on demand.
However, Becker and Fagen enjoy changing up the set lists and that keeps the touring band on its toes, he added.
“It was quite daunting in the beginning and I’ve developed a more confident way of playing over the years,” Herington said. “It’s fun, but it’s still challenging music. It’s always throwing you for a curve. It’s unusual writing and they do mix it up.”
Herington said if the band plays a favorite such as “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” it will switch it out during the next show with another classic such as “Reelin’ in the Years.”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 16
WHERE: Legends Theater at Route 66 Casino, 14500 W. Central
HOW MUCH: $49.50-$129.50 plus fees at holdmyticket.com or 886-1251