A casual listen to the Boz Scaggs discography makes one thing obvious: Boz Scaggs is both a musical seeker and a man of sizeable 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 him acclaim worldwide. Best knows for Silk Degrees with a swag of hit singles including Lowdown, Lido Shuffle and We’re All Alone, Scaggs continues to reinvent himself releasing Memphis, his latest offering last year.
‘I made Memphis with producer Steve Jordan, who is a drummer and friend, and we have been talking about getting together for about a dozen years. We talked and had a clear schedule and had decided to meet in Memphis, and we met at a studio that is a favourite of ours and called a handful of musicians together and gave ourselves about 10 days to get it down. We recorded at Royal Studios and in the end we did it in three days! We weren’t trying to rush through it – things just came up so well. We started and before we knew it was done and you know, it just felt good. It was one of those projects that was a combination of good luck, good timing and good balance. It’s a good album,’ said Scaggs, who laughed, ‘I could say it took a lifetime to make that record in just three days!’
‘The only criterion was that it had to be a song that lent itself to my voice and we wanted to give it our own treatment and to give my voice a platform, I didn’t want to be a guitar player or a co-producer; I didn’t want to do anything but sing this time. I said: ‘Steve, lead the way!
‘We talked about songs and then I let Steve make the decisions. He’s a very good producer. The material was chosen to match my voice. I did a couple of Willy DeVille songs, one Al Green, a Steely Dan, Tony Joe White, songs like Rainy Night in Georgia, a classic folk song, a few R&B songs, an old Tyrone Davis song, and I also wrote a couple of original songs for the project.
‘We had 14 songs on the list and we ended up with 14; we used 12 on the album and two for bonus tracks. Once we got started, we realised everything was working.’
Scaggs has been playing music for nearly five decades. It’s been intense, tumultuous, but somehow music always called Boz back.
‘Well, you know from 1970 to 1980 I worked really hard. I released five or six albums. It was a constant affair, and in 1980 I had a new album, a greatest hits album, and a world tour, and I needed to take some time away to deal with other things. I took 10 years, and if I hadn’t had to take that 10 years away, I didn’t have any music in me. I changed gears. I came back slowly, at a different pace, with a different motivation. I feel like I had career. It was very re-invigorating; it was fresh and free. I did a couple of jazz standards albums. I did things in a more organic way and I made what I think was the best album released in 2001, called Dig.’
As for how he’s travelling as a singer?
‘I’d say my voice is better than it’s ever been, more relaxed – and taken it from a different approach.’
Boz Scaggs is one of the legendary artists appearing at Bluesfest this year.
For ticketing and program information go to www.bluesfest.com.au.