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From The Weekender, September 2000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Royal Scam shows
nothing but authenticity

By KEVIN KRIEGER
Weekender Correspondent

 


On Saturday night, with temperatures dropping outside, Royal Scam heated up the River Street Jazz Cafe with the sounds of Steely Dan.

Royal Scam is not a band that takes the easy way out. They not only play the recognizable Dan songs like Reeliní In The Years and Josie to note-for-note perfection, but they mine the depths of Steely Danís seven album history. Obscure gems like Green Earrings, Night By Night, and The New Frontier from Donald Fagen's solo release, came to life pleasing the dedicated Dan-head and thrilling the casual fan.

Throughout its career, Steely Dan has used a multitude of musicians to produce an inimitable sound, giving every track a different feel.

Royal Scamís attention to detail on the complex songs of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen was nothing short of outstanding.

Leader Michael Caputo has spent the last six years perfecting the cool and at times offbeat vocals of Donald Fagen. Even his appearance in a sharp black suit perfectly complemented Fagenís smooth style. This is a guy with a love for the music of an amazing band and he obviously enjoys sharing it with the masses.

Equally impressive was guitarist Bob Heinink's ability to recreate the tone of Dan sidemen like Elliot Randall, Denny Diaz and Jeff Baxter. Having used a different guitar player on most tracks, Steely Dan music presents a formidable challenge for Heinink to cover all the bases. His fluid style and exceptional chops made guitar-oriented tracks like Pretzel Logic and Hey Nineteen shine.


Since much of Donald Fagenís material is written on the keys, the true backbone of the Royal Scam sound may be Gino Amato, who handles the keyboard and programming duties.

Without a bass player in the line up, Amato coaxed a wide spectrum of sounds out of his Korg keyboards.

Crowd favorites FM (No Static At All) and Black Cow gave sax-man Joe Montini a chance to stretch out and wow the crowd with his solo. Vocalists Wendi Gordy and Debbie DeLuca made you realize how important the background vocals are to Steely Dan songs.

Their harmonies blended perfectly behind Caputoís cool voice. And last but certainly not least, drummer Jay Dittamo laid down the complex rhythms that at times had fans dancing between the tables. Before the night was over, Royal Scam served up a slew of Steely Danís finest moments, including a blazing version of Kid Charlemagne and dead-on interpretations of Babylon Sisters and Peg.

Steely Dan may have canceled its Wilkes-Barre appearance this past summer, but the die-hard hardly be disappointed with the show put on by this seven-piece combo. The club was packed by 9:30, with the early arrivals grabbing up the tables and latecomers relegated to standing in every inch of open space.

When Royal Scam returns, show up early and be prepared for a taste of real musicianship and infectious grooves!

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