Michael McDonald remembers driving into Cleveland while on tour with Steely Dan and listening to Donald Fagen regale band members with his own version of “Rock ’n’ Roll Capital” history.
“He was explaining how the Earl of Cleves founded the city,” McDonald recalls with a chuckle. “If none of it was true, none of us would know.”
The Doobie Brothers frontman-turned-solo artist will perform at Tower City Amphitheater Sept. 3 during Taste of Cleveland. Though McDonald admits his knowledge of local history hasn’t grown over the years, the 53-year-old married father of two teenagers says his love of performing has.
“In some ways, I really enjoy it more at this point in my life than I did when I was younger,” he says. “I don’t grow tired of playing live or traveling. There are just certain points in a family’s evolution when it’s more important to be home than out with the band.”
McDonald promises a longer show with “more of a cross-section of everything I’ve done over the last few years,” including his two albums of Motown covers, than the last time he was in town. Don’t expect to hear new material, though. His two new tunes will appear on an album of holiday music, “Through the Many Winters: Songs of Christmas,” which will arrive in Hallmark stores later this fall. McDonald won’t be performing his Cajun romp, “Christmas on the Bayou,” or Cuban-samba-style title track over Labor Day weekend. He confesses that recording Christmas songs during the middle of June in his Nashville studio was more than a little strange.
“I found myself going into stores and saying, ‘Happy Holidays,’ ” McDonald explains. “You’re in such a mindset while you’re doing it, you actually forget that it’s not that time of year.”