The Wizardry of Boz

Greenville Online

Scaggs brings a ‘mixed bag’ of music to the Peace Center

[By Donna Isbell Walker - Entertainment Writer - June 27, 2008]

Since Boz Scaggs began playing music more than 40 years ago, he has performed an eclectic variety of songs. His repertoire includes several staples of the classic-rock world, along with jazz-flavored tunes and an album of pop standards.

But the song that most encapsulates who he is as a performer is the song that introduced him to many fans back in 1976, “Lowdown.”

The soulful song anchored his best-selling album, the quintuple-platinum “Silk Degrees,” and it still resonates for fans and for the singer, Scaggs said recently.

That particular song, Scaggs said, chatting over the phone from Philadelphia, “has probably served me in more situations than any song I’ve ever written. It’s a very natural song to my vocal range. It’s really easy for me to sing (and), it draws from the blues, it’s got a little jazzy influence. It’s something that just probably is the most satisfying of all the songs that I do. ... It was the first big hit off that record, and it connected me to a type of music and a style more than anything.”

Famous songs like “Lowdown” are the kinds of things fans are likely to hear at the Peace Center on Tuesday, along with a little bit of blues — a “mixed bag,” he calls it.

While Scaggs has branched out into many musical directions over the years, he’s concentrating on the familiar stuff for this tour.

The standards and his jazz-flavored material, which are more challenging to Scaggs as a vocalist, are better suited to a music festival setting than a headline tour, he said, adding that his eight-piece band offers a good showcase for the more popular material. And, Scaggs adds, while he is performing songs that are 20 or 30 years old, they aren’t exactly the same pieces of music that they were when he wrote them.

“There’s to some degree a literal reproduction of those songs, but they’ve evolved over time. They’ve evolved with each new musician I get in my band. They have a life of their own. I work with great players, and the songs just have a vitality that I think people like,” he said.

Next up for Scaggs is another album of pop standards, due out in September, and after that he hopes to put on an R&B disc. But the singer said he is always working on songs, and on becoming a better musician all around.

During the 1980s, Scaggs took a long hiatus from the music business, which continues to rejuvenate his work, even 20 years later, he said.

“It’s like when you go on vacation. You get away from your routine, your daily life,” he said. “That separation allows you to get rid of some old habits and perhaps you’re inspired to try something new. That time away for me was probably invaluable in that I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today if I hadn’t had that time to get away from it all. I didn’t know whether I had a place in music anymore. There wasn’t any music in me. ... And then it started to come back, it started to creep back. “The passion I had for music as a kid started to come back, and I was inspired to play it again and write it again.”

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