Come On Home Boz

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Boz Scaggs Set To Perform At The Fraze Pavilion

Most people are familiar with Boz Scaggs music through his breakthrough album 1976 Silk Degrees album, which contained the chart topping hits, Lowdown, Lido Shuffle and Harbor Lights, yet his music has been an ever changing endeavor, delving into various genres and musical directions. His signature soulful voice lends itself well from American jazz standards to a deep gravelly Texas blues. Watching a performance recently of Lido Shuffle, one can see the evolution from the 1970's radio staple Lido Shuffle to a completely different creature altogether, replete with a building intro with a pulsating R&B rhythm and a soft edged bluesy back beat.

One of Scagg's recent releases, But Beautiful, opened the pages of the American Songbook and plucked from it such classics as Sophisticated Lady and Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, restructuring them into what is at once a new view yet is respectful of their place within pantheon of American music. Fade Into the Light brings us the remastered and remixed recordings from Scagg's own decades spanning musical catalog, delivering unplugged versions of Lowdown and Simone as well as a remix of I'll Be The One.

I was able to interview Scaggs recently as he arrived from a gig in Washington D.C. To Philadelphia. I was struck by his soft spoken voice, which held a slight Texas twinge and played in complete opposition to his deeply resonating singing voice. His answers came in a slow, contemplative manner, well thought out and eloquently delivered.

DCP: You were born in Canton. How long did you live in Ohio before you moved?

Boz: You know, it's not really clear to me. I think I was around three years old. My father was in WWII. My mother was from Canton and my mother and I lived with her parents in Canton while my father was away in the war. My father was from Arkansas, so we moved back there when I was about three. I have a vague childhood memory of being in my grandmother's house and, of course, we visited a fair amount for years thereafter.

DCP: With the But Beautiful album, you drew from the American Songbook. A lot of people treat it as sacred ground or are kind of daunted by it. Did you have any misgivings about it?

Boz: Well, it's definitely sacred ground, yet daunted: no. Challenged, yes. I started that project because I had been friends with some jazz musicians who were working in my studio in San Francisco, oh, eight or nine years ago and as a result of my meeting them, we did some shows and some benefit concerts. I just started exploring that music with the piano player, who I still work with, and we started going through the material and some three years after I had met them and we had started playing together, we made that record as a quartet. It was very well received and was at the top of the jazz chart. As a result of that, I've done a number of jazz festivals and traveled...a lot. It's been four years since that first one's been released and it's taken me that long to round up a number of songs and taken a new arranger. It's very challenging for me. It's given me another musical avenue.

DCP: Are there any of the songs that hold memories for you from your childhood?

Boz: Oh sure! Let's face it, I'm a musician! I've had my ear to the radio and everything around me since I was a little kid. So, it's all around us. My parents were record collectors, well, my father was, and there was always music around. These songs are part of our background for all these years. So, they're there and I've been listening to the great singers for a long, long time. It just seemed to be part of our background.

DCP: Well, they're still in the background. They pop up in movie soundtracks, television shows and advertisements. It's being introduced to a whole new generation.

Boz: It's really never stopped, you know. Every generation does it. Be it from old timers like myself. Bob Dylan does them...Joni Mitchell...I can't think of anybody who hasn't done one or two. They're beautiful songs and melodies as evidenced by the tens of thousand of people that have recorded them.

DCP: Out of the Boz Scaggs catalog, are there songs that hold a personal charm for you that may not have gotten the popularity that you would feel they deserved?

Boz: Yes, there are. There are a number of songs...actually, there is an album I made called Dig which came out on September the 11th, 2001, the day the of the World Trade Center tragedy. The whole advertising campaign and the whole release sort of went down the drain. There are a number of songs on that record that I consider some of the best I've ever written or performed. There are those odd songs that are in every record that I still have an attachment to, some of which I will get to bring out and try to re-introduce, explore and some will just remain personal and very, very close for one reason or another.

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