Boz Scaggs Still Going Strong

Boz Scaggs’ voice, lauded in his early recording career for its soulful smoothness, has aged into something much more interesting.

Where before there was a sort of cool detachment in his vocals and a precision to his phrasing, there now is just a hint of gravel, a barrel-aged richness and a languorous effect that speaks to a man who has embraced his soulful-rock-elder-statseman role with uncommon grace. Last year’s “Fool to Care” album is as good as anything he’s done. And at 71, Scaggs, who plays The Capitol Theatre on Friday, has no plans to stop anytime soon.

“It’s what I do,” he said in a phone interview last week. “I’m a musician. It’s my profession, and it’s what I started out doing a long time ago. I’m actually working more now than I have in many years.”

That’s a result of an epiphany he had eight or nine years ago. Before that, he was doing short five- or six-week tours every year. And every time he started to really feel like he and his touring band were starting to really hum, the tour was over. So he decided to get back on the road for longer tours, and that made music more fun for him than it had been in years.

“The more I do it, the more I enjoy it,” Scaggs said. “I’ve got a great band. I’ve got a lot of material new and old. And I tour comfortably.”

Having the new songs from “Fool to Care” and 2013’s acclaimed album, “Memphis,” has helped keep things fresh. But even the old classics such as “Lowdown,” the No. 3 hit from his 1976 album “Silk Degrees,” are still fun for him.

“I’ve never played ‘Lowdown’ the same twice,” Scaggs said. “Fortunately, I still really like the songs I liked when I wrote them. And they’ve stood the test of time.”

So has Scaggs himself. His first album, a quickly forgotten solo release from 1965, didn’t make much of a splash. But, after gaining fame as the guitarist in the earliest version of The Steve Miller Band, Scaggs relaunched his solo career with 1969’s “Boz Scaggs.” That and the four albums that followed earned plenty of critical praise but didn’t sell well. Then came “Silk Degrees,” which hit No. 2 on the U.S. albums chart in 1976.

Though he never quite hit those highs again commercially, the momentum from that album (which still gets play on classic-rock radio) created a lasting fan-base that has stuck with him through another 40 years and 14 albums. Getting on stage in front of those fans now is “pure joy,” he said.

“It’s just a blast of energy and fun,” Scaggs said.

Posted: Friday 11 March 2016

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