Boz Scaggs reflects on his 'rock star' moments prior to upcoming Cleveland performance
By Jeff Piorkowski, Sun News July 19, 2011 PHOTO BY JOYCE GOLDSTEIN Boz Scaggs will perform on a double bill with Michael McDonald July 26 at Playhouse Square.
After a 40-year career that has frequently taken forays into blues, jazz and rhythm and blues, this time around Boz Scaggs is focusing on the hits sort of.
Scaggs, currently on tour with another big hit maker, Michael McDonald, was asked what it is like to have that rock star moment when he unleashes on audiences those hits Lowdown, Lido Shuffle, Were All Alone, Breakdown Dead Ahead, and others and the crowd goes wild.
Its very satisfying, I must say, replied the low-key Scaggs, calling recently from North Carolina.
But, ever the diversified performer, he quickly added, There are songs I do during the set that are not hits that a great majority of the audience may not know. But I use the hits to make sure audiences are hearing what they want to hear.
The shows with McDonald will feature a set of each man performing his own repertoire, then a third set in which they will share the stage and sing R&B favorites first recorded by the likes of Sam & Dave and Joe Simon, as well as perhaps a Leonard Cohen tune.
We havent decided what were going to do yet, Scaggs said. It can be that we decide at the last moment what well do.
William Royce Scaggs began life in Canton, moved from the Pro Football Hall of Fame City at age 2, then lived in a couple of other locales, as his father worked as a traveling salesman. When the family landed in Texas, in Scaggs teen years, it proved to be fortuitous move. Thats because Texas, like Scaggs, is known for its musical variety.
I grew up at a time when we could tune in to radio stations that were playing early rocknroll, said Scaggs, 67. But we also had radio stations that played solely R&B or blues.
With that musical melange in his background, Scaggs grew into a recording artist who mixed all of these elements, along with a sprinkling of jazz, into his sound. The result has been a multicultural fan base that most artists dont enjoy.
Its not an easy niche to fit into, he said, but Ive been fortunate.
Another experience helped shape Scaggs sound, as well.
I was a junior in high school and he was already going to the school when I met him, Scaggs said, speaking of his bandmate at the time, guitar slinger Steve Miller. After attending college in Wisconsin with Miller, Scaggs went on to join the first incarnation of The Steve Miller Band, playing on its first two albums.
Songwriter/guitarist/singer Scaggs ventured to Sweden to record in 1965, but said it was only after he recorded his first album for Atlantic Records in 1969 (titled Boz Scaggs, it featured a version of the blues Loan Me a Dime that still gets airplay on classic rock stations), that he decided to make music his career.
After a series of albums that rendered the occasional minor hit, the big time came calling in 1976 when Columbia Records released Silk Degrees. When asked if he thought at the time that the album might be his breakthrough, Scaggs said, I had a feeling, but Id had that feeling before and was wrong. But I knew it was a special record.
Things didnt start off too promising when the albums first two singles What Can I Say? and Its Over, didnt take off.
It was only after the third single came out, that was Lowdown, that things started happening, he said. R&B stations started playing it on their own, because it wasnt, initially, released as a single. We didnt release it as a single until after the R&B stations started playing it.
Scaggs hit in 1980 with songs like JoJo, Miss Sun, Breakdown Dead Ahead, and from the soundtrack of the blockbuster film Urban Cowboy, Look What Youve Done To Me.
In 1981, he took a seven-year break from the business and worked in establishing a San Francisco restaurant with his brothers.
I was just burned out, he said.
He returned in 1988 with the album Other Roads, and has issued albums regularly since, including 2003s But Beautiful (a collection of standards), and 2008s jazz-flavored Speak Low.
Hes also been spending the last 12 years with wife, Dominique, at the couples Napa Valley vineyard, which he calls not really a big business, but a big part of my life.
Music, however, is a constant to Scaggs.
Im touring now more than I ever have said Scaggs. This is like my second career. Theres more music in me.
http://www.bozscaggs.org/thelowdown.htm Boz Scaggs Official Fan Site & Archives