They used to call me "Sam the new guy"...that was 18 some odd years ago. What a long strange trip it's been! So I thought I'd take a moment to share some of my feelings and memories about being in this band, as if anybody out there is actually interested...!
It all started when I saw a flyer hanging in the foyer of Sam Ash Westbury for some local band playing Steely Dan music in Amityville on Halloween (interesting combo right there), Stealin’ Dan. Hmmm… clever name, I wonder if they’re any good? Must have been around 1998. Well, I moseyed on down there all by my lonesome and checked them out….hey, not bad! I’d love to play in a band like this someday I thought. Horn section, background singers, tight rhythm section, well-played arrangements of the music I knew and loved since the first notes of Deacon Blues tickled my ears. So, on a fluke I approached the central figure of this musical mayhem after the gig and left my number with him, not ever really expecting to hear back.
To my surprise, about 6 months later I was greeted with a somewhat familiar baritone voice on the phone identifying himself as Dr. Dave, the leader and guitarist of Stealin’ Dan. “Sam, we’re holding auditions for the bass chair of the band next Monday, would you like to come?” Next Monday? Would I like to come? Holy cr-p, I love to LISTEN to Steely Dan but I don’t know how to PLAY Steely Dan…that’s complicated stuff! With only five days until the audition I shredded every Steely Dan record I owned and confidently walked into that bastion of wedding band videos, EKO, my 4-string Alembic on my back. And wouldn’t you know it, by some strange stroke of luck… I got the gig. Cool!
What bassist wouldn’t be thrilled to mimic (and expand upon) the basslines of Chuck Rainey, Anthony Jackson, Marcus Miller, and oh yeah, Becker was no slouch either! I even got to play flugelhorn and EWI on a couple of gigs. While every member of the band is a consummate pro (and most are also Mets fans - big plus there!), I think my favorite aspect of the band is digging on the horn section. Both the ensemble playing and solos these guys play inspires me to go home and practice my own sax and trumpet playing, even though my ears are usually ringing after our gigs! What did you say, honey?
So here we are, many, many gigs later and I’m just reflecting on the blessing it has been to play with these world class musicians for almost two decades. So many memories, so many great solos, the overcrowded bar tour, Stephen Talkhouse (is there gas in the car?), playing WBAB in softball (I’m pretty sure we lost), the very lucrative gig up in Connecticut, the munchies after gigs, the drama (at times – well this IS a rock band after all), and… it all culminated in what is today one fine band which I’m very proud to play with and invite my college friends to, even if most of them prefer Zeppelin over Dan.
In closing, I’d like to give a special tip of the hat to certain alumni no longer with us. To Mark Gatz, an inspiring and creative musician who played some unique stuff with us onstage as well as wonderful playing on one of my own CDs, and of course, to Dr. Dave, a great bandmate and even better friend. When Seth David Beyers took his leave from Stealin’ Dan a great void was left behind in my opinion, not just musically. He had a vision and a passion for the music, and I greatly appreciated his verbal affirmations when I played a lick I probably couldn’t replicate.
To the rest of you guys, I hope the music never dies!