The band consisted of five musicians: Bob Turek on bass, Rob McIldowie on keyboards, Bob Ranaudo on lead guitar, Mark DePaula on drums and Andy Jarcho on saxophone, flute and additional percussion. On the band's press handouts they rather arrogantly used a Becker and Fagen lyric as the band's motto: "Close your eyes and you'll be there/It's everything they say."
Despite many critics' initial warranted skepticism, they attracted some glowing reviews on America's East Coast throughout their existence. (They broke up about four years ago.)
"Beau Bolero is everything the ad says and more. Turek and McIldowie alternate on vocals and, though both have a style that is distinctively different, they capture the sound of Steely Dan," Mary Lou Sullivan wrote in the Hartford Advocate. Apparently on Babylon Sisters, Turek even capture the high-pitched female background vocals perfectly! She concluded by saying that Beau Bolero were definitely an act worth seeing.
but being able to execute Steely Dan's sometimes difficult progressions didn't come easily to them. When interviewed, guitarist Ranaudo admitted that it hadn't been easy teaching themselves Becker and Fagen's songs. "We spent countless hours, days and weeks learning the music, and the difficulties we encountered were unbelievable." One road crew member said that it was not unusual for them to spend a full month learning just one song!
There was no shortage of people willing to pay to hear these renditions of Steely Dan's material live (curiosity is a potent weapon), and Beau Bolero were attempting to exploit this advantage by including in their set some of their own original compositions. However, even their own songs displayed a strong Steely Dan influence, which "Only a diehard Steely Dan fan would know the difference."
Joe Cannavo of Inferno wrote: "We have been told in the past that Steely Dan don't go out on tour. This is because they hire studio musicians and feel the quality of the music will be lost if played out of the studio. Well, even if they didn't want to try it, Beau Bolero did, and with great success. With the help of the Zagoa talent agency, the band is making it way to the top in terms of the New England club scene."
Describing a concert at Eastern Connecticut State College, Jim Konrad explained how they received tumultuous applause, opening with FM and performing at least one song from each Dan album in their hour-and-a-half set, interspersed with their own tunes. He likened their original songs to "Dannesque-type things, with similar instrumental style but simpler lyrics." The token audience participation number was Hey Nineteen, with the students being encouraged to sing the chorus. Requests were also invited, and one very popular choice at this particular gig was Don't Take Me Alive. "Superb and near-perfect reproductions of Steely Dan's music and vocals were handled with ease. The audience responded with a standing ovation when they left the stage."
McIldowie, however, never tried to disguise their real motives. He said in 1982, "Right now we're doing Steely Dan to draw people, then (hope to) gain popularity by putting our own songs in the show."
The critic of the Waterbury Republican described Beau Bolero's original material as a cross between Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, and maintained that they had the potential to be really big. He said they captured Steely Dan's sound in a tight, classy and sophisticated way.
Despite the acclaim they received, they much sought after commercial success didn't come Beau Bolero's way and they were never really able to progress beyond their New England roots. Very probably they would have been much better advised to have discreetly used their Steely Dan influences as a launch pad for their own material rather than simply copying Steely Dan songs exactly not for note. It was a bold attempt, though.