Boz Scaggs has covered a lot of territory during his 41-year music career. “Silk Degrees,” his sparkling Grammy-nominated album from 1976 (“Lowdown,” “Lido Shuffle” and “What Can I Say”) brought him the most attention, but over the years, Scaggs has consistently produced music that stands up, and that people enjoy.
Later this summer, Scaggs will embark on a nationwide tour with old friends Michael McDonald and Donald Fagen. The talented trio – they call themselves the Dukes of September Rhythm Revue – will bring their smooth sounds to the Citi Performing Arts Center on Aug. 31. Before then, you can see Boz and his band at the South Shore Music Circus tonight (Thursday) in Cohasset, and at the Cape Cod Melody Tent on Saturday.
We caught up with Scaggs last week for a quick conversation about his music and career.
Q: You’ve been at this a long time now and it wasn’t so easy in the beginning. Do you ever stop and think, “Hey, this music thing worked out pretty well?”
A: Well, I feel very fortunate to do what I have loved to do for all these years. And, sometimes I do look back and feel proud of the work that I have done.
Q: Before going solo, you were in San Francisco playing guitar with the Steve Miller Band. What was that time like for you?
A: I just kind of dropped in after the so called “Summer of Love.” It was a bit of a cultural shock to me; I didn’t entirely relate. I liked some of the music (Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, etc.), but I already had some ideas of my own, and just continued on my own. I think for many people who were part of that scene, it was formative, but to me it was just part of a transition.
Q: Are there any periods, perhaps the “Silk Degrees” time, that you enjoyed the most or think were the most important?
A: No. ... Oh, I don’t know. ... It’s a continuum. It (the late 1970s) was a formative time in my career. It was a very busy time. (The early years) are a busy time in everyone’s career. It’s when you’re out hustling to find your audience, your sound, your style and your voice. And then after a while, you hit the next plateau, so you think, “OK, now I’ve developed a style, I have some strengths. I know what my weaknesses are. I have some ambitions and things I want to explore within the music.” So, you just move on to another year, another phase, another area. So, I don’t see one (phase) as more important.
Q: You are known for playing rhythm and blues, rock, pop, soul, jazz and even more recently, standards from the American Songbook. Can you talk a little about how you chose to explore those styles?
A: That’s just what I grew up with and those are my areas of interest. As a singer, I am influenced by a lot of different styles and a lot of different people. That is the way I relate to the world around me. For instance, when I heard a piano player named Brad Mehldau play ballads and standards, it really made me want to try and sing in that genre. So, I did. I like blues and R&B, some pop music. I like jazz. So, I just go there.
Q: Do you try to work all those styles into your live performances?
We create a set each night depending on where we are, or what we feel like doing and what we think an audience will like. So, we’re kind of all over the place. But, it’s an energetic set consisting of about 30 to 35 songs, stuff that people like to hear from me.
Q: Do you still enjoy touring and performing?
A: Yeah, that is what I do. I’ve got a great band. We travel very well with our traveling party. I have been touring a lot the last few years, and I am enjoying it more than I ever have. It’s a lot of work, but that’s what it takes, and I like it a lot.
Q: Before you go, can you tell us a little about your upcoming tour with Donald Fagen and Michael McDonald?
A: Well, we’ve worked together before (New York Rock and Soul Revue), and I don’t know whose idea it was (to do it again now), but it was a pretty good one. It’s been fun putting material together and trying to fine-tune a set list. We hit the road at the end of August. Yeah, I’m very much looking forward to that.
Copyright 2010 The Patriot Ledger. Some rights reserved
http://www.bozscaggs.org/bozinterviewpatriotled.htm Boz Scaggs Official Fan Site, Info and Archives