Thursday, June 26, 2014

Michael McDonald at Town Hall

Michael McDonald played in several local bands while attending high school in Ferguson, Missouri. He moved to Los Angeles in 1970 and sang back-up vocals and played keyboards for Steely Dan. The Doobie Brothers then recruited McDonald when Tom Johnston became ill during a national tour in April 1975. McDonald's time with the Doobie Brothers proved so successful that he became a member from 1976 until the band split in 1982, singing lead on several hit songs. He then launched a solo career and collaborated with other artists. McDonald reunited with the Doobie Brothers several times and sang on the band's most recent album, World Gone Crazy. McDonald also joined Steely Dan on a summer 2006 tour, both as the opening act and as part of the band. McDonald has won five Grammy Awards.

Michael McDonald has not released an album of new songs since 2008 and he has not had a hit single since 1986. That did not seem to matter to his audience tonight at Town Hall, where he headlined as part of the month-long Blue Note Music Festival happening in various venues in Manhattan. He sat center stage at an electric piano, sang in his trademark soulful baritone, and pleased his fans with Doobie Brothers hits, including "Takin' It to the Streets", "Minute by Minute" and "What a Fool Believes," songs from his post-Doobies period including "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)" and "Yah Mo B There", and a series of rhythm and blues covers, including Marvin Gaye's ''I Heard It Through the Grapevine,'' Ashford & Simpson's ''Ain't No Mountain High Enough'' and Stevie Wonder's "Superstition." McDonald was all about the music, as he hardly moved from his piano, spoke to the audience only about the music, and sang most of the time with his eyes closed. That was fine. He sang beautifully and his band provided some tasty jazz licks to season the old songs.

Visit Michael McDonald at www.michaelmcdonald.com.