In support of his most recent release, Memphis, Boz Scaggs brought his band to the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno. The new CD is a mix of soft standards, blues, and jazz. As with everything that Boz Scaggs puts his name on, it is impeccably well done both in musicianship and in recording quality. The concept was to record the album where ‘the vibe’ was, rather than create the vibe in an L.A. studio, so they ended up at Royal Studios in Memphis where producer Willie Green pioneered the Memphis sound and recorded Al Greene’s monster albums. Memphis was recorded in the same room. The one with ‘the vibe’.
The opening number, Runnin’ Blue(s) from his 1971 album, Boz Scaggs and Band, had great organ and sax solos in it that emoted the blues as well as anything could. This choice instantly set the pace for the rest of the show. Then they switched up the instrumentation a bit and his long time female vocalist, Miss Monet (Monet Owens) joined the band on stage and they shared four selections from the new CD, Mixed Up Shook Up Girl, Dry Spell, Rainy Night in Georgia, and Gone Baby Gone.
From here they moved into more familiar territory with Georgia from his astronomically successful 7th album, Silk Degrees (it really was that successful, spending 115 weeks on the Billboard Top 200, and being certified platinum five times by RIAA). He’s still able to hit the high harmonies perfectly as required in Georgia.
Later in the show the crowd really responded well to Fats Dominos I’m Sick And Tired Of Fooling Around With You. It has that funky jazzy New Orleans sound to it, which it should considering the origin. The crowd was clapping along to guitar, saxophone and piano solos. Everybody loves a good solo! Very cool song.
Mid-show Miss Monet took center stage to lead the audience in a sort of sing along. This was a version of I Thank You, with Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) by Sly Stone, mixed in. She worked the crowd and got them on their feet clapping and signing along. She even slipped in a little of Tina Turners Left A Good Job In The City (actually it’s John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s song, Proud Mary). This was the most enthusiasm the crowd displayed during the entire show. It was a very well done moment to remember.
Silk Degrees (1976) supplied the final pair of monster hits leading up to the climactic end of the show (except for that encore we all know is coming). The songs that worked everybody in to a sedated frenzy were Lowdown (nice keyboard flute and very jazzy sounding) and Lido Shuffle. It’s kind of predetermined that the crowd at a Boz Scaggs show is going to be laid back, but it was very apparent when during this last song of the set everybody was mildly grooving with barely visible body movement except for one couple front and center who were up and down waving their arms in the air like they just didn’t care.
After a short 30 second exit they returned to the stage and played What Can I Say, another song from Silk Degrees, and then they finished the evening on another iconic blues song from Boz’s vault, Loan Me A Dime which the crowd had been hollering for, from his second album, Boz Scaggs (1969). This is a long slow, very bluesy number that was originally recorded by Boz Scaggs with the yet to me well known Duane Allman. This song was my favorite of the evening and put a fine cap on the show. It was wonderful.
At one point a couple months before the show I was approved to interview Boz. I was very excited about this. As usual I did my research to learn more about the man I was going to interview. As the date of the show drew near Boz was unavailable, out of the country in Morocco, so I waited. As the final days prior to the show ticked by his publicist was unavailable so the interview never happened, and for the first time ever when covering a show I was not approved for photos. As much as this was a bummer, it did not take away from my appreciation of the show.
…and the beat goes on.
Here's a link to my photos of Boz Scaggs playing in Reno in 2012. Click here.