…with one thing in common – a love for Steely Dan.
DAVE ADLERMUSICAL DIRECTOR, KEYBOARDS, VOCALS
“Steely Dan’s Aja was a seminal album for me.”
Dave received the Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) award for Pianist of the Year in 2023. He’s co-leader of Steely Dane, a member of the Willy Porter Band, and plays frequently throughout the Midwest.
As leader of his own trio, sideman with The Tony Castaneda Latin Jazz Band, (which has been voted Madison’s favorite jazz group for four years in a row) and participant in numerous other regional bands, Dave Stoler is one of the busier musicians in the area, and a first-call if you’re looking for a jazz keyboardist.
As a young kid, while visiting a local library, he discovered recordings by Count Basie and Oscar Peterson. That event was a catalyst which motivated his curiosity to master the piano. After studying both classical and jazz idioms, he began playing professionally as a teenager, eventually studying music formally at UW-Madison and the University of Miami in Coral Gables. Along the way, he was also a semi-finalist in numerous international jazz piano competitions. In 2011, his interest in the music of Steely Dan motivated him to transcribe enough of that group’s music to begin the vision of what is now Steely Dane.
“I first heard Steely Dan over an AM car radio from a local station.While at the time, I didn’t know why it was good or different, I knew it was music I had to keep checking out. Later, I realized that it’s combination of pop, rock, funk and jazz made it one of the better examples of popular music. Many decades later, my interest culminated in the creation of Steely Dane.”
Dave has a critically acclaimed album, “Urban Legends”. You can keep up with him via his Facebook page.
Photo: Dan Kazinski
“I memorized the drum parts for the entire AJA album when I was in High School”
Joey B. Banks is a performer, music producer, music educator, 2010 and 2011 Grammy nominated drummer, and the 2014 and 2015 Madison Area Music Association Drummer/Percussionist of the Year.
He is a graduate of the Musicians Institute of Technology in Hollywood, CA and is a Madison Scout Drum and Bugle Corps Alumnus.
Joey B. has performed and recorded drums with more than 100 artists and performance groups locally, regionally, and nationally for over 25 years and has played on over 50 albums over the last two decades.
Some notable artists Joey B. has performed with include: Clyde Stubblefield (James Brown), Luther Allison, Koko Taylor, Cynthia Robinson (Sly and the Family Stone), Skyler Jett (2005 Grammy winner), Cowboy Troy (Big and Rich), Barrellhouse Chuck, Billy Flynn, Wayne Baker Brooks, Tom Holland, John Primer, Linsey Alexande, Roscoe Mitchell, to name a few.
JAMES PIE COWANPERCUSSION
“As a percussionist I was drawn to Steely Dan’s iconic hit “Do It Again.”
2023 WAMI Award winning Percussionist James “Pie” Cowan first became aware of Steely Dan in 1973. Their album “Can’t Buy a Thrill” was released the previous year. I was going to school at NTSU in Denton, Texas during this time and the band performed a stadium gig which was not very good.
Pie has been performing, recording, producing, staging and promoting music for over 40 years with local, national and international artists. In 1969 he started working crew and production in Cleveland, Ohio for Belkin Productions. He worked numerous Rock Festivals in the early 70’s. The 1970 Atlanta International Pop Festival and 1972 Mar Y Sol in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico to name a few. My experience working on stage in front of up to 200,000 – 300,000 people in attendance was an epiphany. The energy projected at the stage was overwhelming and I knew I had to perform.
In 1974 James moved to Amsterdam for a year performing a duet with guitarist James Alred as The Visionary Indian Angel. “We performed at numerous venues including the Milkyweg and Paradisio.” We also operated and performed in are own coffee house until we were displaced by a fire in 1975.
Pie returned to the States in 1975 moving back to Madison, WI where he met Tony Brown and united as The Tony Brown Band performing and recording reggae and cajun blues as a quartet throughout the Midwest. In 1976 he joined with Michael Stone to found The Roots Band, an original band playing a variety of styles including Blues, Reggae, Calypso, Latin Jazz and Funk. This entity performed throughout the Midwest until 1979 culminating with the band going to Ocho Rios, Jamaica for 2 months to perform.
“In 1980 I returned to Kingston, Jamaica with Michael Stone, as Stone Foundation, to record. Our concept was a multicultural exchange with some of the best reggae musicians in the industry, including such reggae luminaries as Ernest “Daddy” Ranglin, Pablo Black, Earl “Bagga” Walker, Uziah “Sticky” Thompson, LeRoy “Horsemouth” Wallace and Earl “Chinna” Smith. All were members of the legendary Studio One Band. Between 1980 & 1995 we recorded numerous projects at Harry J, Dynamic, Coxsun and Tuff Gong Studio’s.”
In 1980 Pie moved to Aspen, CO, performing with numerous musical entities for the next 11 years. “During this time I was fortunate to open for, and perform with many musical legends including Joe Walsh, Steve Winwood, Kenny Loggins and many others sitting in with our 7 piece band KT and the SailKatz. I also performed with legendary jazz pianist Dave Schappert (Miles Davis) in a jazz quartet as well as every musician in the Roaring Fork Valley at one time or another including Starwood and Bobby Mason.”
In the 90’s I moved back to Madison full time and continued to perform and record with Michael Stone, The O’Bros, Tony Brown, The Gibraltar Rockets and many other great musicians.
In 2000 Pie joined The Know It All Boyfriends with Freedy Johnston, Jay Moran, Butch Vig and Duke Erickson who I have known and worked with since 1975.
Jim Doherty can not only rip off a blazing trumpet solo, he can also build you a beautiful deck. As the resident band carpenter, Jim spends his days building things with his hands, and then swaps the hammer for some brass at night.
He has performed as both sideman and leader, most notably as a member of the Clyde Stubblefield Band, Janet Planet & the Urban World, the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, Madisalsa, Phat Phunktion, Arturo Sandoval, Don Rickles, and the Brian Setzer Orchestra. Jim studied trumpet at UW-Madison and the Eastman School of Music in addition to studying jazz with the renowned tenor saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi. Jim directed the big band at UW-Madison for a decade and directed the Madison East High School Jazz Orchestra for four years, and currently teaches trumpet privately.
AL FALASCHITENOR SAX, VOCALS
“WIth two older sisters that controlled the stereo, I have fond memories of cleaning the house on Saturdays listening to Steely Dan.”
Born and raised in a musical family in the middle of Milwaukee and Chicago, Al must have fell in love with music in the womb. His father taught himself how to play drums and piano and had Al holding drum sticks as soon as he was able. His two older sisters sang and played the piano.
They also controlled the stereo while cleaning house on the weekends. A steady dose of funk and r&b, on top of the solid jazz foundation provided by his father gave a young Al a unique musical perspective for someone his age. To the dismay of his father, he picked the saxophone during 5th grade band tryouts. They already owned drums and didn’t need to “buy” anything. There was a sigh of relief as the saxophone was at least a “jazz” instrument.
Al is the co-founder of Phat Phunktion, a nine-piece tour de funk, based on his love of old school funk and r&b, like Earth Wind and Fire, Tower of Power, and Steely Dan. The band was born out of the music school at the University of Wisconsin, but quickly grew out of control. Under the writing and production Al, and his partner in crime Tim Whalen, Phat Phunktion has recorded and released four full length albums that have been released internationally, and has successfully toured the United States and Japan.
Al is an active member of the Wisconsin music scene, playing and recording saxophone and drums with many other groups, including Bon Iver, Clyde Stubblefield, The Jimmys, The Gomers, Moses Patrou, Johnny Chimes, Tim Whalen, and many others. He is also actively organizing an event called Funk Out Cancer, which is a concert series and silent auction that raises funds for cancer research in memory of his late wife Kate Gates Falaschi. The event has donated over $150,000 to the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center.
NICK BARTELLALTO SAX
“The best part of Steely Dan– and I say this objectively– is the badass horns.”
Nick is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and arranger, performing professionally on saxophones, flute, clarinet, piano, keyboards, and steel drums. After growing up in Madison, he moved to New York City to study saxophone at the New School. He lived in New York for 8 years, and Chicago for 4 years.
Since moving back to Madison in 2012, Nick has performed with a very long list of professional groups in Wisconsin and around the Midwest. He performs with and manages The Neophonic Jazz Orchestra, a 25-piece big band in the tradition of the Stan Kenton Orchestra. Along with his brother Chad, Nick helped found and performs in Panchromatic Steel, a 12-piece professional steel drum ensemble, performing continuously in Madison and the surrounding areas. He performs regularly with funk/rock/reggae group Primitive Culture and with David Hecht & the Who Dat, alongside Steely Dane bassist Phil Lyons in both bands.
When not performing music, Nick is a part-time mortgage advisor, works on video/web projects, and enjoys traveling, the outdoors, DIY home improvement, brewing kombucha, and spending time with his family, especially with his 10 nieces and nephews.
Photo: Molly FreeSpirit Leimontas
COURTNEY LARSENTROMBONE, VOCALS
“What can I say? I always wanted to tour the Southland in a traveling minstrel show.”
Being the youngest of three who was born in the mid 70s, Courtney was destined for a life filled with the music of her older siblings. “I actually have to credit them with my musical tastes” she would say. Her family is filled with entertainers.
Her father was the funniest person everyone knew and he also taught himself how to play guitar. Her mom plays piano, sings, acts and directs; brother acts, sings, and plays French Horn; and her sister plays trumpet and guitar and was once herself in a band based out of Nashville.
When Courtney was eight, her mom forced her into piano lessons saying, “You’ll thank me one day,” and boy was she right. In fifth grade came the biggest decision of her life…picking an instrument to play in the school band. Her two older siblings said they’d disown her if she didn’t pick a brass instrument. Courtney’s no dummy and she wasn’t about to live in anyone else’s shadow so that left the baritone, trombone, and tuba. The tuba was way too big to drag onto the school bus. The baritone seemed sort of “meh” so she thought to her ten-year-old self, “at least the trombone had that cool slide thingy.”
Courtney attended UW-Madison participating in numerous musical groups from jazz to symphony band and even one athletic group, the UW Marching Band. In 1997 her childhood pal, Al Falaschi, told her Phat Phunktion was looking to add a trombone to the lineup and the rest is history from there with the band producing four full-length albums and touring throughout the United States and Japan.
In addition to Phat Phunktion and Steely Dane Courtney has played with a variety of other groups including The Tim Whalen Nonet, The Darren Sterud Orchestra, and various trombone ensembles. She is also an active participant in Funk Out Cancer, a concert series and silent auction that Phat Phunktion puts on bi-annually to raise funds for cancer research. Our the past four events, Funk Out Cancer has donated over $150,000 to the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center. Courtney believes this is one of the most important things we can do for our community. None of us hasn’t been affected by this lousy disease at some point in our lives.
“Before Steely Dan I was always running out of petrol. Now I’m excited that yes, there’s gas in the car!”
Bassist “Philbourne” has performed or recorded with Freedy Johnston, Firetown, Clyde Stubblefield, The O’bros and Emmettville. In addition to Steely Dane, Phil plays trombone with The VO5 Disco-Funk All Stars and Primitive Culture.
featuring keyboardist Paul Hastil, bassist John Christensen, saxophonist Eric Koppa and drummer Michael Brenneis. The Quintet has performed at top regional venues and events including Madison’s Jazz at 5, Milwaukee’s Third Ward Jazz Festival, Isthmus Jazz Festival, as well as at Monona Terrace, the Brink Lounge, Jazz in the Park, Memorial Union, Opus Lounge, and a host of other venues—anywhere jazz is heard and played.
In 1992, Tom earned a Bachelor of Music degree from UW—Madison and moved to Brooklyn, New York, to further his training in Afro-Caribbean percussion at The Harbor Conservatory. He studied timbales, piano, composition, and arranging with Johnny Almendra, José Madera, Victor Rendón and Francis Rodriguez. In 1996, he formed Grupo Latin Vibe with Anibal Tito Rivera. GLV became one of the most popular salsa bands in New York, recording three albums and touring the US, Italy, and the UK.
Tom has been an adjunct percussion instructor at Hunter College in Manhattan for the past 20 years. He also leads Rico Vibes, a Latin jazz group, and The Vibrojets, a surf rock/exotica band. Currently Tom is transitioning his home base from Brooklyn back to his Madison roots and plays with Steely Dane, Tony Castañeda’s Latin Jazz Sextet, and Mambo Blue.
JAY MORANGUITARS, VOCALS
“To me Steely Dan’s music is the ultimate in musicianship, sly lyrics and amazing melodic content.”
Jay Moran is a very active Madison-area musician/singer/songwriter and producer. He is a music geek well versed in the 70’s and early 80’s rock-soul-jazz world. He is a founding member of The O’bros, Emmettville, Know It All Boyfriends, and an accomplished solo artist.
Jay has been one of the primary songwriters with The O’bros for well over 30 years now, but he is a guy who likes to play and write in many musical styles. He formed another band, Emmettville in 1994 to explore a more folk, country/rock vein. Emmettville released two critically acclaimed albums and has shared the stage with Los Lobos, Sonia Dada, Willy Porter, Peter Himmelman, and Marshall Crenshaw, to name a few.
Another venture of Jay’s is the Rocksteady band Mad Rocksteady, a 10-piece band paying homage to the music genre that originated in Jamaica around 1966 as a successor of ska and a precursor to reggae. Mad Rockstead has one eponymous album and performs around Southern Wisconsin occasionally with several members of Steely Dane fortifying the group including Clay on saxes and Courtney on trombone.
If that’s not enough, Jay also is a solo artist, writing a deep book of music that he has recorded and performs live. Jay has also lent his guitar, vocal and production skills to many projects for other artists including Freedy Johnston, The Gibraltar Rockets and many others.
Jay picked up Steely Dan’s Can’t Buy A Thrill soon after it came out in 1972 and has been a fan of the Dan every since. “To me Steely Dan’s music is the ultimate in musicianship, sly lyrics and amazing melodic content. To be part of this band has made me a better musician. You can’t suck when playing Steely Dan.”
MEGAN MORANBACKING VOCALS
“I got to know Steely Dan during family vacations in my Dad’s mini van, where I sang along with the background vocals and excelled at misunderstanding the lyrics.”
A Madison native, Megan studied voice and music education at Lawrence University. In 2004 she was awarded a Downbeat Magazine Student Music Award for Outstanding Solo Singing in the College Vocal Jazz category.
These days, she performs with the Paul Dietrich Jazz Ensemble and the Darren Sterud Orchestra. Offstage, you can find Megan singing and dancing with her elementary music students (the next generation of Steely Dan fans!).
DENNIS SHEPHERDGUITARS, VOCALS
“My eccentric friend introduced me to the deep cuts of Steely Dan when I was about 15 years old.”
Dennis earned his first professional gig in his early teens with local variety favorite Strange Brew. Throughout late ‘80’s and ‘90’s Dennis performed with Wisconsin favorites At Large, Kidd Gloves, famed WAPL and Green Bay Packers radio parody The Wedgies,
The Marc Golde Band, and Blues Artist Bruce “Groove King” Koenig, among others.
In 1990, Dennis won the Best Young Guitarist (ages 17-21) award for Henri’s Music Company by showing his mastery of several different guitar styles.
In 2002, Dennis moved to Chicago to work for world renowned amplifier manufacturer Hughes & Kettner. While there, he also joined the Steely Dan tribute band Reely Dan. He performed “The Night Belongs to Mona” and “What I Do” from Donald Fagen’s “Morph the Cat” album onstage with Harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy (Bela Fleck) who played harmonica on both cuts for Fagen. Dennis moved to Nashville in 2005 where he played with Bobby Keys (Rolling Stones), Phil Kenzie (Al Stewart), Michael Fair, The Scat Springs Band featuring Joseph Wooten and a host of some of Nashville’s top musicians. From 2008 to 2010, Dennis toured the Southeast with Eclipse: Recreating the Music of Pink Floyd, painstakingly recreating the brilliant tones and phrasing of guitarist David Gilmour.
Dennis now lives in Appleton, WI and we’re glad to have him bring his considerable skills to Steely Dane!