By Bob Doran The North Coast Journal Humboldt County, CA July 30, 2009
First time I heard Boz Scaggs he was playing guitar and sharing vocal duties in the seminal '60s version of the Steve Miller Band - Children of the Future was one of my favorite records, particularly side 2, where Boz reigned.
Raised in Oklahoma and Texas, Scaggs met Miller in 1959; they played in bands together in high school in Texas then at U. Wisconsin-Madison before Scaggs struck off on his own to explore Europe and the British blues scene. Around the time of the Summer of Love he showed up in San Francisco to rejoin Miller and work on his first albums, Children of the Future and Sailor. Boz then once again went solo starting with an underappreciated eponymous blues disc with a band that included Duane Allman and a cadre of Muscle Shoals soul men.
It took until 1976 for Scaggs to break through to a mass audience with the smooth-as-silk Silk Degrees. He'd found his niche. He's recorded a long string of albums since, mostly along smooth soul lines, but venturing back to the blues and, more recently, into jazzy takes on standards - still, suave soul is his forte.
I spoke with him a few years back when he was coming to play in Eureka. We got to talking about the common "areas of expertise" of the musicians he was working with. I asked him what he saw as his own area of expertise. "I don't know how to define myself really," he told me. "I guess I have a certain vocal signature, and there's a particular kind of song that I write, although I wouldn't know exactly how to describe it. I guess I've begun to develop a personal style."
I suggested that part of that style was a heart-on-the-sleeve honesty, a realness that makes his songs ring true. "I know what you mean and I'd have to say that when I write I sort of go to that emotional well. That's where it comes from. I try to isolate myself and set the words to some musical platform that reflects something that's happening to me. And that's how I get to it. I don't find writing easy, it doesn't come to me the way it comes to some songwriters who are in a technical sense more purist than I am. A lot of it comes from my own personal emotional landscape."
You'll get a view of that landscape when Boz Scaggs returns to Eureka Monday, Aug. 3, for a show at the Arkley Center. Not sure who's with him, but I'd expect a set including his hits and probably a bit of blues.