Boz Scaggs Back on Track

Boz Scaggs Back on Track

By: Paul Hyde, Arts Writer

The Greenville News

Boz Scaggs’ first studio album in five years, “Memphis,” features classics like “Rainy Night in Georgia,” “Corinna Corinna” and “Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl.”

“I had been thinking about a record that involved going back into my past and finding songs that match my style and my voice,” Scaggs said in a recent interview, speaking from Chicago during a tour stop.

Scaggs will bring some songs from that latest album, released in March, to his Peace Center concert Wednesday night.

He’ll also feature the big hits that first put his name on the charts in the 1970s — songs like “Lowdown” and “Lido Shuffle.”

“It’ll be a mixed bag, representing the music I like to do — some ballads, some rock ‘n’ roll, some R&B and some jazzy stuff.”

Scaggs, who has long had the reputation of being one rock’s cool characters, is casual and soft-spoken on the phone.

He’ll bring his six-member band to Greenville.

“Several musicians are out of a jazz background,” Scaggs said. “These are very high-caliber players, extremely versatile. We can go from Jimmy Reed to Bobby Bland to Steely Dan to my original compositions and everything in between.”

Scaggs has a very personal connection to the Memphis sound. His father and grandparents are from the city, as is his wife.

Scaggs said “Memphis” was one of the easiest albums of his career. Thirteen tracks just flowed in three days of recording at Memphis’ landmark Royal Studios, where the late Willie Mitchell produced so many of Al Green’s and Anne Peebles’ legendary albums.

“The project just fell out naturally,” Scaggs said. “It didn’t require working over takes or a lot of revising. We had given ourselves 10 days but things just went our way from the beginning. The material was well-chosen. It sounded great and felt great.”

Raised in small towns in Oklahoma and Texas, Scaggs took up the guitar at age 13.

“As a kid in the ’50s I was swept away by music and radio,” Scaggs said. “It seemed there weren’t enough hours in the day to keep up with that first wave of rock ‘n’ roll. At night I had WLAC Nashville with deeper blues and R&B out of the greater South, and jazz from Chicago’s WLS.”

William Royce “Boz” Scaggs started playing in bands during high school in Dallas in the 1960s. He entered college at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and soon after decided instead to devote himself to music.

Scaggs released his multi-platinum album “Silk Degrees” in 1975, featuring hits like “Lowdown,” which won the Grammy Award for “Best R&B Song,” “Lido Shuffle,” “What Can I Say” and the ballad “We’re All Alone,” which became a worldwide hit for Rita Coolidge.

Scaggs sat out most of the 1980s, touring sporadically and releasing one album in 1987, “Other Roads.”

“In 1980, I decided to take a hiatus from the music business,” Scaggs said. “I had intended it to be a six-month break, but I found when I got away from it that I wasn’t ready to jump back in. I had family matters to attend to. And at the bottom of it all, I just didn’t have any music in me, no creative urge at all. Music had become a routine.”

The 1990s began what Scaggs calls Chapter 2 of his career.

“I rediscovered why I started doing this in the first place, when I was a teenager — because I love music,” Scaggs said. “I feel very fortunate that I was able to get away from it in the 1980s because it recharged my batteries.”

An invitation by Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen to join his New York Rock and Soul Revue teamed Scaggs up with Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker, Michael McDonald and Charles Brown among others.

In addition to touring extensively with his own band, Scaggs continues to work with Fagen and McDonald as The Dukes of September, most recently a playing a 47-city tour, performing their own material along with R&B and soul classics.

Posted: Tuesday 16 April 2013


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