The Tribune - Boz Scaggs Interview


Singer samples Jazz/R&B Style For Aug. 2 show at Mid-State Fair, Paso Robles

[Author: Andrew Castagnola - July 26, 2002]

Boz Scaggs' musical career stretches back to his 1960s prep school days in a band with Steve Miller.

Dozens of albums later - including his latest, "Dig" - something growls within the soft-spoken Scaggs to keep making music.

"I'm still looking to get that one or two songs right," he said during a phone interview. "There's still a voice inside of me that keeps trying to write 'that' song."

The soul-searching singer-guitarist will bring his unique R&B/jazz blend to the Mid-State Fair at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 2, part of An Evening of Music and Wine.

The fair scene is new to Scaggs, which prompts some apprehension, but he's comfortable in the wine-and-tunes setting.

"I've played wineries in the Bay Area and Washington state. The audiences are great; they're comfortable. ... Wine and music have always gone hand in hand," he said.

The show will reflect Scaggs' current fascination with the standard jazz style. Although most of his songs hang on recognizable riffs and hooks, he's ready to improvise a bit.

"The jazz style is entirely improvised every night. ... I'm going to try some of that; it's part of what I'm looking for this time out," he said.

Scaggs has dabbled in a melting pot of styles over the years. He played in blues bands with Miller, his college buddy, and later helped launch the psychedelic Steve Miller Band in 1967. After a couple albums, he opted for a solo career, which he's been refining ever since.

Scaggs broke into commercial success with the single "Lowdown" from the "Silk Degrees" release in '76 and the song "Love, Look What You've Done to Me" from the film "Urban Cowboy." He slipped into retirement for most of the '80s. Now, Scaggs makes and performs music on his own time.

"Mostly I'm in work mode these days with several projects. ... I'd rather be really busy than kind of busy, or really away from it," he said.

Scaggs' projects include recording demos with a jazz quartet and studying the standards.

His occasional performance lets him test that studio work.

"There's no connection with the audience while I'm recording," he said. "When I'm doing a show, I'm getting to try out those words on the outside. I'm wondering as I sing how they're connecting and finding a different nuance in those words than when I was sitting alone at my desk writing them."

At 58, Scaggs is still discovering what works and what draws emotions from listeners. "Every once in a while, I've happened on an original point of view, and it's very satisfying," Scaggs said. "That's why most of us do what we do - we get a sensation, and we want to find it again and again."

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