Boz Brings Bluesy Soul to Dover Downs
Former Steve Miller Band guitarist and prolific solo artist Boz Scaggs is back on the road with a brand new record.
He recently answered several questions for GO! magazine about recording the bluesy “Memphis” at the legendary Royal Studio and what fans can expect from his new tour.
What was the atmosphere in the studio like while you were making this record?
I’ve been in that studio before, and it has not changed a bit. It was very familiar.
It’s a pretty low-key and unadorned space. There’s a lot of cotton cloth and insulation stuck all over the room — stuffed in the ceiling and on the walls — in a pretty odd, primitive fashion, and there are various areas cut out where the drums go and the guitars go and the vocals go. It looks like it’s been there for a while — and it has.
It’s well-used and comfortable and everything’s in its place, and you feel like you’re in a room that’s meant for business.
How much does that kind of atmosphere help you make a record?
Oh, it helps a lot. It was just so unpretentious; when you sit in that corner where they usually put the guitars, you just feel like you belong there. You put on the headphones and start playing, and it’s all right there. I think that’s just part of the unpretentiousness of the room; it’s kind of dark, and it feels like you can’t hurt it and it can’t hurt you, so you go play.
How do you go about translating that vibe when you take a new set of songs on the road?
I have a great band of very versatile musicians who can move around a lot of different styles, and we transcribe it or study it carefully, then we start playing it. Usually we start off by rehearsing it verbatim as we hear it on the recordings, and then it begins to evolve and take on a life of its own as we play more often, and certainly when we get in concert. It responds to where we are on a given night, and takes on a life of its own. But it’s really the magic that the studio musicians put into it in the first place that determines where it goes.
What do you want the audience to take away from a Boz Scaggs concert?
Well, I like to give them a thrill — I like them to really feel like they’ve seen some great musicians.
I was very much influenced by one of the first concerts I ever saw. I think I was about 14 years old and growing up in Texas when I saw Ray Charles play. I didn’t really know what to expect; I had just heard Ray Charles songs on the radio and had a couple of records, but when I saw the show, the first thing that impressed me was the spontaneity and the energy of the musicians. It just filled me with that thing that only music can bring you; you can feel the rhythm and the energy of the music and the live aspect of it.
And then Ray came on, and he started playing some things that I wasn’t necessarily familiar with, and then he moved into some stuff that I was familiar with. By the end of the show, it was just a great, satisfying evening and people had connected with the songs like they never had before.
They get to see a little more of where the music really comes from; everybody knows we go into the studio and put it together, but I think when you get a real sense of what the music is and how we were inspired by it, it kind of makes another sense. That’s the way I like to leave an audience, feeling like they discovered something, you know? They really got to enjoy some great music and some great players.