CONCERT REVIEW: UPTOWN THEATRE, NAPA, CA 2011
L. PIERCE CARSON Napa Valley Register | Sunday, May 29, 2011
Explaining the reasons for his third appearance at Napas Uptown Theatre in less than a year, bluesman Boz Scaggs told Thursday nights packed house:
Its an easy commute ... (and) I like playing for this audience.
The expected response the roar of a loyal crowd gave way to a familiar intro to one of the singer/songwriter/guitarists enduring hits, JoJo, which eventually trots out the mean street escapades of the songs protagonist. Weve heard Scaggs perform this composition on numerous occasions and never tire of his mellow brush with the high life.
Now that Scaggs grows grapes, makes wine and lives here in the valley, we look forward to hearing a lot more often about JoJo and the other characters who inhabit the entertainers world.
Ohio-born, Texas-raised Scaggs started out as a guitar-slinging lover of raw blues. His first musical success came as a member of the Flower Power-era Steve Miller Band. But he made his greatest impact as the San Francisco purveyor of slick and elegantly executed white rhythm and blues, reaching his commercial peak with the multi-platinum Silk Degrees album of 1976. That recording spawned the disco-era megahits Lowdown and Lido Shuffle, both of which brought the major portion of the one-hour-40-minute show to a close the other night.
But the early 70s bluesman was present as well, amply displayed in a gut-wrenching rendition of Fenton Robinsons Loan Me A Dime that incorporated guitarist Drew Zinggs blistering guitar solos during one of three encores. Not only that, Scaggs provided fans with a rocked-out rendition of the title track from his outstanding blues recording, Some Change.
A composition that hes not performed for local audiences, King of El Paso from the classy Dig release of a decade ago had the headliner reliving youthful escapades in Texas. Recalling the Fats Domino era, Scaggs gave us yet another opportunity to soak up the honesty of Dave Bartholomews Sick and Tired, underscored by the soulful sax of Eric Crystal. Crystal and Michael Logan, who plays a mean Hammond B-3 organ, provided added texture and oomph to one of Scaggs favorites from the early 70s, Running Blues.
A song this fan looks forward to on every Boz Scaggs set list is Miss Sun, a bluesy, in-your-face rocker that brings out the best in the band and turns the spotlight on nonpareil backup vocalist, Monet Owens. Miss Monet is a vocal powerhouse, whos as adept at singing soul as she is rockin the house. We love her rendition of Bonnie Raitts Lets Give Em Something to Talk About; although wed love to hear her do something new the next time around.
Scaggs also reassured all hands including wife, Dominique, who was on hand for the show hes still a romantic at heart, crooning in dulcet, late-night tones a couple of enduring ballads Love, Look What Youve Done to Me, from the soundtrack of Urban Cowboy, and the very poignant Slow Dancer, which had headliner trading solos with the organmeister.
To round out the evening, Scaggs reached back to 1980s Middle Man for the third and final encore, a driving rocker that had everyone dancing, Breakdown Dead Ahead.
As Scaggs gets ready to celebrate his 67th birthday next week, hes also gearing up for an East Coast summer tour, returning to the Pacific Northwest and California in September.
Maybe he could fit us in again in the fall. After all, it is a pretty sweet commute. But next time, lets hope he includes a few of the songs from the great American songbook that he compiled on his two newest CDs. Thats a side of Boz we havent heard live for a few years. The withdrawal pangs are beginning to show. You can only shoot up iTunes so long.
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