Load remaining images It wasn’t until returning to the stage for an encore of “Reelin’ in the Years” that Donald Fagen acknowledged the absence of Steely Dan’s other half. “I’d like to thank my long-time partner Walter Becker for helping me write some pretty cool songs,” he said. Then, in the darkly humorous tone that both Becker and he embraced, Fagen added, “Unfortunately, Walter couldn’t be with us here tonight.”For a band that didn’t consider itself a band and gave up performing live at the height of its popularity in search of perfection in the studio, Steely Dan has turned out to the be one of the most reliable touring acts of the past decade. Settling in for multi-show residencies that focus on entire albums and greatest hits has been part of their touring success, and this year’s nine-night run at New York’s Beacon Theatre continues the tradition in the post-Walter Becker world.Wednesday night’s featured album was Countdown to Ecstasy, the Dan’s 1973 follow-up to the surprising success of their 1972 debut, Can’t Buy a Thrill. Sales expectations were initially high for Countdown, and so many copies were produced that discounted cutouts were available in record bins for most of the ‘70s. It was a fine effort that demonstrated a step forward from their pop-infused debut, but the album failed to produce the monster radio hits that the era demanded. Fortunately, Countdown has aged well, featuring familiar favorites such as “Bodhisattva” and “My Old School” alongside once-lesser tracks like “Pearl of the Quarter”, “The Boston Rag”, and “King of the World”, which have since emerged as standouts.Fagen and Becker once shuttled studio players in and out for specific riffs, but the current lineup of stellar musicians has remained steady for many years. Guitarist Jon Herrington and drummer Keith Carlock are joined by a four-piece horn section, three backup singers (including Catherine Russell, who’s a noted jazz singer in her own right), Jim Beard on keys and Freddie Washington on bass. Though not exactly Walter Becker’s replacement, the only new member of the band is Connor Kennedy, a superb young guitarist whom Fagen initially recruited for his Nightflyers band.In addition to the complete Countdown to Ecstasy, Wednesday’s show featured multiple selections from Aja, including “Black Cow”, “Josie”, “Peg”, and the title track. “Kid Charlemagne” from The Royal Scam and “Hey Nineteen” from Gaucho rounded out the evening.Upcoming shows through October 30th will spotlight Aja and Gaucho as well Fagen’s The Nightfly solo album. For more information on the upcoming Steely Dan shows at the Beacon, head here.You can check out a gallery of photos from the performance below via photographer Lou Montesano.Steely Dan | Beacon Theatre | New York, NY | 10/24/18 | Photos: Lou Montesano
While federal negotiations continue on raising the U.S. debt ceiling, Vermont’s State Treasurer is cautioning that the seeming impasse could negatively impact Vermont’s hard-earned Triple-A bond credit rating. ‘Yesterday, we learned from Moody’s Investor Services that even the highest-rated states, including Vermont, would have their ratings reviewed next week in light of the continued U.S. debt ceiling debate,’ said State Treasurer Beth Pearce. ‘However, I’m confident Vermont’s track record of fiscal responsibility will serve us well in any rating review. Vermont has the highest credit rating in New England, one of the highest ratings in the country, a strong cash position and healthy reserves.’ Pearce said such disappointing news concerns her because the State’s high bond rating enables Vermont to borrow funds for critical infrastructure needs at very low rates and save taxpayers millions of dollars in interest payments. On July 13, Moody’s placed the U.S. government’s debt ratings on review for possible downgrade. Moody’s informed the Treasurer’s Office that it also was concerned that states would be negatively impacted by disruptions caused by the failure to raise the U.S. debt ceiling. State and federal governments sell bonds to investors to borrow money to make investments in areas such as public infrastructure. In Vermont, money raised by a bond sale funds a wide range of capital purposes, including State building construction and maintenance, health and public safety, and pollution control projects. The higher such bonds are rated, the more creditworthy a rating agency evaluates the bond issuer to be. Vermont bonds are rated Triple-A by Moody’s and Fitch Ratings and Double-A+ by the Standard & Poor’s Ratings Service. ‘The debate in Washington is a painful reminder that even though Vermont is fiscally sound and we are responsibly managing our finances through this economic downturn, we also are affected by national public policy decisions. It would be regrettable if all of the hard work and sacrifice that State government, employees and taxpayers have made to earn Vermont’s excellent ratings is put at risk due to events beyond our control,’ said Pearce. Vermont’s next general obligation bond sale is not scheduled until mid-October and Pearce said the State has sufficient cash balances and receipts to delay that sale even further if necessary. ‘We are fortunate that we can get through any short- or even medium-term bond market disruption,’ explained Pearce. ‘Many states are not in such an advantageous position. If a resolution to the debt ceiling issue is not forthcoming, debt markets will be volatile. States and municipalities with lower credit ratings may have difficulty accessing the market at affordable interest rates, if at all. I remain hopeful, however, that a resolution will take place before the deadline.’ The Treasurer’s Office has worked closely with State officials to review rating agency concerns and to develop contingency plans. Vermont has sufficient liquid cash reserves to manage delays in receipt of federal funds, and all of its existing debt is fixed rate and long term, which protects it from both rising interest rates and ‘rollover’ risk.