Boz Scaggs and "The Memphis Tour" will come to the Anderson Center for the Performing Arts at 8 p.m. July 29. Scaggs' latest album is a collection of mostly classic R&B covers.
Boz Scaggs to bring a little of ‘Memphis’ to Binghamton
July 23, 2014Tweet
With the release of “Memphis” in 2013, singer/songwriter/guitarist Boz Scaggs found himself on the Billboard Top 20 album chart for the first time in 33 years.
“I haven’t really done a mainstream album since 2000,” Scaggs said. “It’s great to be back in focus. I have been working a lot and touring a great deal over the past five to six years. Whenever you have a record that people are paying attention to, it’s a great feeling. It goes hand-in-hand with live performances. One enhances the other.”
Scaggs will bring “The Memphis Tour” to Binghamton University’s Anderson Center for the Performing Arts at 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 29. The show will feature songs from “Memphis,” along with selections from Scaggs’ 45-year catalog of music.
“The ‘Memphis’ music meshes in very well with songs we’ve done in the past,” said the 70-year-old, who is touring the United States and Canada through October. “We mix it up depending on the venue. We get a feeling for where we are when we arrive at the hall. Then you go for it.”
William Royce Scaggs came to prominence in the late 1960s as a guitarist for The Steve Miller Band. Scaggs went solo in 1969 and released five acclaimed albums that combined pop, R&B, blues and rock. In 1976, Scaggs unveiled the pop/R&B powerhouse “Silk Degrees” and earned superstar status. The multi-platinum album hit No. 2 on the Billboard chart and produced hits such as “Lido Shuffle,” “It’s Over,” “What Can I Say,” “We’re All Alone” and the Grammy-winning “Lowdown” (all written or co-written by Scaggs).
Scaggs followed that success with “Middle Man” in 1980. The Top 10 album netted two more hits: “Breakdown Dead Ahead” and “Jojo,” while Scaggs’ contribution to the soundtrack of “Urban Cowboy” – “Look What You’ve Done to Me” – was another big hit. Scaggs re-emerged eight years later with “Other Roads,” which produced a Top 5 adult contemporary single, “Heart of Mine.”
During the past 20 years, Scaggs offered albums in a variety of styles: jazz, blues-rock and standards. He also toured with Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers and Donald Fagen of Steely Dan as The Dukes of September.
“Memphis” saw Scaggs travel to the city’s Royal Studios to record a collection of classic R&B covers, including “Rainy Night in Georgia” by Brook Benton; “Love on a Two Way Street” by The Moments; “So Good to Be Here” by Al Green; “Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl” by Mink DeVille; “Can I Change My Mind” by Tyrone Davis; and “Pearl of the Quarter” by Steely Dan.
The songs, recorded in a mere three days, were a mix of personal favorites and tunes developed in the legendary studio once owned by the late R&B producer Willie Mitchell.
“’Love on a Two Way Street’ was something (‘Memphis’ producer) Steve Jordan said: ‘Hey, that’s a great song! Why don’t we give that a try?’” Scaggs recalled. “We gave it to the musicians and it just felt good. It was an ‘oh yeah!’ moment. That’s how a lot of things happen: You think you have a good idea and you go for it.”
The album features some guest musicians from the city, including the Royal Horns, the Royal Strings, trumpeter Ben Cauley, pianist Spencer Oldham and others.
“I was very excited to see them all walk through the door,” Scaggs said. “Some are great friends and some are heroes of mine.”
Scaggs praised the core group of musicians who make “Memphis” sound like it came straight out of 1972: Jordan on drums, Willie Weeks on bass, Ray Parker Jr. on guitar, Charles Hodges on organ and Jim Cox on piano.
“We’ve worked with each other over time on projects,” he said of the band that he is recording a new album with. “They are all very special.”
“Memphis,” which also features two original Scaggs songs called “Gone Baby Gone” and “Sunny Gone,” was not only praised by critics, but reached No. 17 on the Billboard chart.
Scaggs said he is looking forward to writing more original music in the future.
“It’s cyclical with me,” he said. “I’m not someone who writes all time, keeps a notebook and always has songs at the ready. But I’ve got some ideas and hope to complete more original material.”