Boz Scaggs happy to play the great outdoors at Syracuse Jazz Fest Mark Bialczak/The Post-Standard June 24, 2010
Boz Scaggs says his arrival in Seattle has been quite the shock to his system, what with climbing out to 50-degree temperatures after a stop in Las Vegas, where it was 109 degrees.
The veteran singer and guitarist is ready to go, weather be damned.
Audiences are out there and want to hear us, says Scaggs, who will be traveling east this week for a Saturday night headliners slot at the Syracuse Jazz Fest.
And, for the most part, Scaggs says, he loves summertime outdoor shows.
Indoor rooms, you have more acoustic stuff to deal with, Scaggs says. Outdoors, the world has good acoustics.
Miss Sun Video Courtesy of backpackdavid
Scaggs, 66, is thoughtful as he answers questions with the insight of a man whos been entertaining the world since his days in the Steve Miller Band and recording with the likes of Duane Allman in the 1960s.
Hes been at the top, winning a Grammy Award for best R&B song in 1977 for Lowdown, from his hit-filled album Silk Degrees.
Hes seen record sales and mainstream popularity roller-coaster after that and kept on doing things his way.
Right here, right now, today, are you a jazz singer, blues singer, pop singer or something else entirely?
Im doing the hits of rhythm and blues with my band now. Thats generally what the audiences like from me. Thats what I like to do in this situation. Were playing hits from the radio, some R&B songs Ive done over time. Some are new. We have a good repertoire. Theres big energy, some known stuff and some surprises.
Will you slip in some of the songs from your jazz album (2003s But Beautiful)?
It will not be from the Great American Songbook. I really would like to go out and do a whole tour of that and have in the past. But thats a different situation and different group of musicians and technical setup. Thats not what Im doing. Yet there are some very, very strong musicians in this band. My music director (Richard Patterson) was Miles Davis bass player for several years. They are some high-level players, and well be doing complex material.
Is there more or less room in the music world today for somebody who wants to sing all of the above at one time or another?
I think thats a two-sided answer. Theres a lot more music accessibility from a standpoint of a singer or performer in jazz or any genre these days, and theres potentially a wider audience for it. Because of the changing nature of the way we get music to people, its more difficult to start out, it seems to me. Theres such sophistication to music.
From an early age any kid can have access to music from anywhere in the world and genres that were not around in my generation.
It was a big deal for me (at) 15 years old to hear James Brown live at the Apollo Theater. Now any kid with the Internet can listen to more far-flung styles of music. To get it out effectively and make a life or career of it, though, is in some ways more difficult. Theres not the record company structure anymore.
What are the best times of your career to you, the days of the hits of Silk Degrees or now?
Now, youve gone and answered it for me, havent you?
OK, cut out the last phrase, about Silk Degrees.
I dont mean to be evasive, but this is a continuum. There are sort of high spots and career moments and awards and treat shows that happen. But I cant remember a greater thrill than the first night I got to play at a Holiday Inn and sat in for a bass player who couldnt make it that night, and got paid $15 or $20. That gave me greater joy than winning a Grammy.
OK, Silk Degrees that was the joy of playing with a trio of studio musicians, really playing some great songs. And then came the success we had in sales and follow-up tours. It was obviously a big deal, what people strive for. I had that lucky hit.
But up to now, the real key is being a working musician. Thats really all I ever got into this for.
Lido Shuffle, What Can I Say, Harbor Lights, Were All Alone, Its Over ... all have been on the radio over the decades. Do you like the hit songs from Silk Degrees as much as the fans like them?
They just wear very well. The arrangements are really good. The song Lowdown is as close to a signature song as I have. The old saying is, you cant go into the same river twice. Lowdown is never the same. It keeps revealing itself to me, and, I can say, I keep revealing myself to it.
I like that material a lot. Its worn very well.
The details What: Boz Scaggs headlines second night of Syracuse Jazz Fest. When: 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Where: Campus of Onondaga Community College. Admission: Free. Parking is $5 per car.