Reading Eagle Boz Scaggs Interview

By Tracy Rasmussen - Reading Eagle Correspondent - July 1, 2010

Hit-maker Boz Scaggs performing in Reading
The musician will take the spotlight at the Sovereign Performing Arts Center on Wednesday.

Boz Scaggs has always appreciated quality over quantity and substance over style.

So it's no surprise that Scaggs is hoping to get an album (his first with original music in nearly a decade) out next year and that he's not exactly sure what musical path his muse will take.

"I don't really have a process," he said of writing music. "I wait until I've got a few songs more firmly in the works and then (the album) starts taking its own direction."

Scaggs originally intended to begin recording that album in the fall, but that idea was usurped by a tour with Michael McDonald and Donald Fagen that immediately follows his current solo tour that brings him to the Sovereign Performing Arts Center on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

He said the solo date will include all the different faces of his music, showcasing not only his hits, but also the depth and breadth of his discography.

"I'm doing songs that have been hits that people have heard on the radio," he said. "And then some R&B that they may not have heard. Some of it I have recorded, and some of which I have not."

He said he'll likely toss in some blues and some of the songs from "Speak Low," his 2008 send-up to the Great American Songbook.

"It's a high-energy show," he said. 'It's musicians and soloists, and it's about an hour and a half to an hour and 45 minutes of music."

The hits he's likely to feature include "Lowdown," which charted at No. 3 and "Lido Shuffle," which peaked at No. 11 on the charts, both from his very popular "Silk Degrees" album released in 1976.

Scaggs has released several albums since then, but the last CD of original music was "Dig," which came out in 2001. Since then he has been occupying himself with re-interpreting pop music, R&B and standards.

So, even though the plan has been delayed, he's excited to get back into the studio with some original music.

"The material can take a long time," he said. "I've been at this for a year and a half. I start by taking stock of what's there, what I have. I have riffs that I play on the piano or bits and pieces of music."

Scaggs usually collaborates on his songs, too.

"I work with a co-writer or an arranger," he said. "And usually a keyboard player. We pull together the bits and pieces and start putting things in song form."

The lyrics come later.

"We write the lyrics around the musical ideas," he said. "Then it starts taking its own direction. I just follow that one step at a time."

Scaggs moves slowly, making sure the music says exactly what he's feeling.

"I'm into the music first," he said. "It's the music and rhythm that gets me first, so I have an idea. It could be a melody or a chord structure."

The words come later, inspired by the music.

Scaggs knows that this isn't always an easy process for his fans, who remain loyal and open to the twists and turns of his muse.

"I just don't try to have a preconception," he said of the music he creates. "The only thing that really defines my music is that I generally use a rhythm section."

The next CD is starting to take a little shape in his mind, but he's not sure if what he's feeling now will be what ends up on the CD in 2011.

"I was keeping it sort of early Americana range music that comes from the heartland," he said. "But now I've found some material and also have material that I've written, and it's not from there, so it's all over the place. I won't really know until I actually get into the process."

And that can be frustrating - but also satisfying - for fans.

"Anyone who has gone the whole way with me has to be pretty flexible," he said, "and we appreciate that."

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