BY CHRIS COBB
Boz Scaggs started on the dot at 8:30 p.m. in the fading light with a pumped-up version of Runnin’ Blues and proceeded to give a performing master class around – as he put it – the “musical map.”
That “map” included the old, new borrowed and quite definitely the blue and the blue-eyed soul – Rainy Night in Georgia, Sierra, Dry Spell, Corrina, Corrina were some of the highlights in the early going of his well-ordered set.
Scaggs’ distinctive 69-year-old voice is in great shape. His soulful renditions of Rainy Night and Corrina, Corrina were just a couple examples of how he can still hold his notes.
Down the many years since he left the Steve Miller Band to pursue a solo career, Boz Scaggs has had significant commercial success with studio work that has often shrouded his deeper, grittier side.
Production of some of his biggest hits have been loaded with cascading strings and a kitchen sink of affectations that have, at times, seemed at odds with the emotional intent of his lyrics.
There are slices of Christopher Cross – whatever happened to Christopher Cross? – and to a lesser degree his buddy and ex-Doobie Michael McDonald and McDonald’s former band mates Donald Fagen and Walter Becker – aka Steely Dan.
They are all connected, musically and personally.
As Thursday evening’s TD Ottawa Jazz Festival audience would testify, the true strengths of Scaggs’ work come together best when he performs live.
The evidence is there in his biggest, Grammy-award winning hit Lowdown from the 1976 multi-million seller ‘Silk Degrees. On disc – or whatever – it sounds dated and overcooked. Played live, it takes on new life.
And after 40-plus years in the upper reaches of the music business, he remains a consummate pro and a superb, versatile guitar player.
Scaggs’ set was a mix of his hits – Lowdown, Lido Shuffle among them – and half a dozen pieces from his latest album Memphis.
And for the first 45 minutes it was laid back and soulful enough to suit the lawn-chaired masses in front of him.
Then his sidekick Miss Monet took over and demanded a higher level of enthusiasm and involvement.
By sheer force of voice and personality she prised almost everyone from their seats and launched into high-octane, blistering version of Thank You.
From there Scaggs took over with Lowdown and Lido Shuffle, always a crowd pleaser.
For the encore it was a trio of tunes culminating in Scaggs’ traditional closer Loan Me A Dime released in the year of Woodstock.
Scaggs fans would have left well satisfied and the neutral festival listener would likely have felt it had been time well spent.
Posted: Saturday 29 June 2013