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Interview:
Boz Scaggs at Soundboard, 6 things to know
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

» See more SOUND CHECK

Boz Scaggs has been making music long enough that every year is some sort of significant anniversary.

This year is a big one, though.

It's been 40 years since Scaggs released "Silk Degrees," the 1976 monster that hit No. 2 on the Billboard 200, went five-times platinum and launched enduring hits such as "Lowdown," "Lido Shuffle" and "We're All Alone." But you won't find Scaggs celebrating that at the expense of the rest of his catalog.

Scaggs did, after all, have a new album out just last year -- "A Fool To Care," the second installment of a roots-exploring trilogy. And with another 15 albums to draw from, Scaggs says he's much more interested in presenting an overview than focusing on any one aspect or era of his lengthy career...

Since last year's concerts were pushing the "A Fool To Care" album, Scaggs' new tour is shooting a wider. "We're moving it around the map a little bit more this year," Scaggs, 72, says by phone from Cleveland. "We do a different set every day and try to figure out the best way to thrill and amaze and make people comfortable and enjoy the music. We're probably working 35 or 40 songs; There's a few songs that people definitely have to hear and we do those, and then we're sort of moving around another 20 or 25 songs. And we're doing a little more R&B/bluesy set this year, I think."

Scaggs is still pleased with the reception "A Fool To Care" received. "I was very surprised and pleased," he says. "Sometimes you do a piece and you're not quite sure what it was about in the end. I had a feeling that some of the material was going to hit a nerve. I got reviews from Europe, from England in particular, about this being a breakthrough record for me -- as if I need a breakthrough or know what that means at this stage of the game. But it was in some ways sort of primal stuff for me, some very basic music that I heard when I was growing up. that's what we were reaching for, and I think that connected with people who heard it."

Scaggs says he thought about doing something special for "Silk Degrees'" 40th anniversary this year but didn't get to far with it. "I'm not much for that stuff, that commemoration," he says. "I'm impressed by it, when I think about what that piece of work meant in my life, but that material is still very alive to me. We play it, still. It's gone through some changes; Every group of musicians I work wtih changes the style of that material a little, but it's held up really well. People still want to hear it and I like to play it, so I'm just glad to have it in my repertoire."

Scaggs does have fond memories of recording "Silk Degrees," working with a new, urban-oriented producer (Joe Wissert) and with young studio musicians-- David Paich, David Hungate, Jeff Porcaro -- who went on to form Toto. "We were hitting some new territory there, and it felt great," Scaggs recalls. "Those musicians were younger than I was and they had probably more intuition than I did that something was up. I didn't really allow myself to go to that space and think, 'This is gonna be a big one.' I didn't expect anything. But it was thrilling."

Scaggs is already eyeballing the third album in the trilogy that includes "A Fool To Care" and 2013's "Memphis," which he expects to start working on later this year and take him to another part of his musical roots. "I think it might be logical to go to Louisiana," he says. "That's really the heart of a lot of music to me. I grew up with some access to New Orleans radio and I went to New Orleans first when I was 11 or 12 years old on a Sunday School trip. Something went deep in me with New Orleans -- things like Fats Domino and Little Richard and Huey Piano Smith and the Clowns. It just really set my nervous system up for a long time, so that might be the natural third step."

As a short-term member of the Steve Miller Band during the late 60s, Scaggs was amused by his former employers' contentious induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year. "It was fascinating, wasn't it?" Scaggs says with a laugh. "That's Steve. He really knew how to become a big star, a big commercial success and high profile and all that stuff. He's a really clever guy and he has had an illustrious career that lends itself to things like the Hall of Fame."

Boz Scaggs

8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16.

Soundboard in the Motor City Casino Hotel, 2901 Grand River Blvd., Detroit.

Tickets are $44-$60.

Call 313-309-4700 or visit soundboarddetroit.com.


Web Site: www.soundboarddetroit.com

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