Boz Scaggs Music Community


Boz Scaggs shines, shares limelight

June 24, 2009 at 11:36 am by

By Michael Eck
Special to The Times Union

ALBANY — Boz Scaggs has one of those special voices that you can identify by its shape. Before he’s even finished singing a note, much less a phrase, you know the owner of the sound.

Scaggs brought that voice to The Egg Monday night, for a long overdue Albany debut that found the singer bouncing back and forth from smooth ’70s hits to the earthier R&B of his roots.

After a decade of journeyman work, Scaggs finally scored big in 1976 with the multi-platinum selling hit-factory, “Silk Degrees.”

At The Egg he drew heavily from the album, culling classics like “Georgia,” “Lowdown,” “Harbor Lights” and the strutting “Lido Shuffle.”

Only on the latter did Scaggs’ voice seem a little older and wearier than before. The tune was pitched lower and delivered a bit less aggressively, but the same couldn’t be said of the bright “Georgia” or the still-funky-after-all-these-years “Lowdown.”

Scaggs’ very talented band delivered “Lowdown” note for note, but their boss also gave them room to roam on other tunes.

Vocalist Monet, for example, was given a solo turn on Aretha Franklin’s “Until You Come Back To Me” that, by its end, had some in the sold-out crowd asking, “Boz who?”

She meshed wonderfully with Scaggs on “Lowdown” and “Miss Sun.”

Other hits included the opening “Jojo” and “Look What You’ve Done To Me,” but Scaggs seemed more interested in deeper tracks like Allen Toussaint’s “Hercules” and the title track from the 1974 chestnut, “Slow Dancer.”

Perhaps Scaggs was feeling wistful about his early days.

Introducing “Slow Dancer,” he recalled working at Muscle Shoals Sound Recorders and the great feeling he had at the Alabama institution.

Then, introducing his encore, he gave a nod to Muscle Shoals founder and keyboardist Barry Beckett, who died earlier this month. As a swirl of organ (courtesy of Deron Johnson) arose it became evident that Scaggs was reaching back to his eponymous debut album for his burning slow-blues take of Fenton Robinson’s “Loan Me a Dime.”

That’s when things went from simply impressive to transcendent.

“Dime” — due in large part to Duane Allman’s scorched earth lead guitar — was an early ’70s FM radio staple, and given the fact that Scaggs topped it with his later hits it came as a surprise.

A glorious surprise. Steely Dan guitarist Drew Zingg (CQ) burned on the tune, Johnson shone and even Scaggs let loose with some serious Texas blues.

It was — and I had vowed not to use this phrase anymore — worth the price admission.

Albany songwriter Sean Rowe has a voice just as distinctive as Scaggs. He opened the show with a set that surely garnered him a number of new fans.

Rowe largely ignored his brilliant new album, “Magic,” in favor of wowing the crowd with stellar renditions of Richard Thompson’s “1952 Vincent Back Lightning” and Leonard Cohen’s “Bird On A Wire,” but his own tunes were delivered just as confidently.

He’s one to watch.

Michael Eck is a freelance writer living in Albany and a regular contributor to the Times Union.

BOZ SCAGGS, with Sean Rowe
When: 8 p.m. Monday
Where: The Egg, Empire State Plaza, Albany
Length: Rowe, 30 minutes; Scaggs, 1 hour, 45 minutes
Highlights: A blazing take of “Somebody Loan Me A Dime.”
Boz Scaggs Official Fan Site

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