A casual listen to the Boz Scaggs discography makes one thing obvious: the man is both a musical seeker and a man of sizable talent as a singer, songwriter and guitarist. His explorations in Blues and R&B, Rock and Jazz have produced lasting work and a career that has brought with it acclaim, a loyal following, and an enduring respect among musicians.
With Memphis (429 Records), his first studio album in five years, Scaggs looks back musically and biographically. His father and grandparents are from Memphis, as is his wife. “I had been thinking about a record that involved going back into my past and finding songs that match my style and my voice,” Scaggs says. With producer Steve Jordan and a crack band he puts a distinctive touch on classics like Rainy Night in Georgia, Corinna Corinna, and Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl, as well as on a couple of originals. Thirteen tracks were recorded in three days at the city’s landmark Royal Studios, where the late Willie Mitchell produced so many of Al Green’s and Anne Peebles’ legendary albums.
“The project just fell out naturally,” Scaggs says. “It didn’t require working over takes or a lot of revising. We’d considered hundreds of songs over the last three years so a number of these had been spinning around in my head for a while. Then when I sounded Steve Jordan about producing the record, his reaction gelled so completely and instantly with mine.”
William Royce “Boz” Scaggs started playing in bands during high school in Dallas in the Sixties. He entered college at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and soon after decided instead to devote himself to journeyman playing around campuses and various clubs and resorts. Scaggs’ guitar and voice provided his self-described ‘ticket to ride’ as he left the States to travel in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. He developed a club following in Sweden and began his recording career there in 1965 with a solo album for Polydor. Curiosity along with yearning for a Blues and R&B band brought him to San Francisco in 1967.
After a stint with fellow Texan Steve Miller on several albums, he signed a recording contract with Atlantic Records and debuted with Boz Scaggs, produced by friend and Rolling Stone founder, Jann Wenner. That record featured the renowned Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, Duane Allman and the slow-burn-to-high-heat track, Loan Me a Dime.
In addition to touring extensively with his own band, Scaggs continues to work with Donald Fagen and Michael McDonald as The Dukes of September, most recently playing a 47-city tour to rave reviews, performing their own material along with R&B and Soul classics. Within that collaboration, throughout his career and especially evident in Memphis, Scaggs’ unique voice and trademark sound make plain his abiding respect for a wide spectrum of American roots music.
Boz Scaggs will be performing at The Centre on Sunday, September 28 @ 8PM.