“No one gets out of here without singing the blues.” That threat may have initially kept Chris Parker (Elisabeth Shue) from leaving The Silver Dollar Blues Club in “Adventures in Babysitting.” But when Boz Scaggs performs, as he did on Friday night, June 21, 2013, to a sold out crowd at the Talking Stick Resort Grand Ballroom in Scottsdale, Arizona, you’d be wise to not let him out until he’s sung the blues as well.
Fortunately, Boz Scaggs enjoys singing the blues and then some. Forty four years after his first solo United States’ album release, 1969’s “Boz Scaggs,” Scaggs can still seduce the audience with his smooth voice. He can go high when required in “Lowdown.” He can be soulful on “Gone, Baby, Gone.” But he is uniquely Boz whether it’s singing “Georgia,” or his mesmerizing take on “Rainy Night in Georgia.”Scaggs wasted no time in showing off his blues chops as he opened with “Runnin’ Blue” taken from his 1971 album, “Boz Scaggs & Band.” Speaking of band, keyboardist Michael Logan, guitarist Drew Zingg, bass player Richard Patterson, drummer Lemar Carter and saxophonist/keyboardist Eric Crystal complemented Scaggs with strong performances all night long.
With Scaggs having recently released a new CD, “Memphis,” he was not shy in showcasing that album, even if the band was “just feeling their way through the new material.” All in all he played six selections from “Memphis,” some original tunes such as “Gone, Baby, Gone” and some covers like “Corrina, Corrina,” or the lesser known, “Mixed Up Shook Up Girl.” To paraphrase an “American Idol” judge, Scaggs made those songs his own.
Interspersed among the “Memphis” selections, Scaggs pulled out “Sierra,” from 1994’s “Some Change,” album. Easily the most beautiful song of the night, Scaggs voice was properly restrained, giving the song its emotional impact.
As good as the “Memphis” segment of the night was, Scaggs knows that he sells out venues due to the popularity of the 1976 multi-platinum selling album “Silk Degrees” and shifted the program into that era of his popularity beginning with “Georgia.” Now the crowd, still not standing, was at least swaying in their seats.
There is a cool factor that all the great blues, soul, jazz and rhythm and blues singers, such as Scaggs, possess. That cool factor is necessary when you dare share the stage with a showstopper such as Conesha Owens, the incomparable Ms. Mone’t. Look up “sassy and talented” and you’re bound to see her picture next to the definition.
Mone’t and Scaggs playfully bounced vocals off of each other during “Miss Sun,” Scaggs’ coolness being the only possible way to respond to the fire in Ms. Mone’t’s exchange. Then Scaggs handed off the night to Miss Sun herself. With Scaggs content to play some of his underrated guitar work, Ms. Mone’t began a soulful version of Sly Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).” When Ms. Mone’t told the audience to stand up for “I Thank You,” they did. You just don’t say no to Ms. Mone’t.
The audience was now properly energized and eagerly ate up “Lowdown,” and “Lido Shuffle,” which closed the regular set. “Lido Shuffle” had the audience singing along as well with more than a few fans leaving their seats and filling the aisles.
Scaggs’ encore started off with one more from “Silk Degrees,” “What Can I Say,” again, the audience reveling in the familiarity of the music. Ms. Mone’t strutted while Scaggs went back to “Memphis” with “Cadillac Walk.” But Scaggs had to get out of there, so one more blues song was in order.
For anyone that might have already left, they would have missed the best song of the night. Dedicated to his friend Duane Allman, Scaggs performed the lengthy, Allmanesque “Loan Me A Dime,“ found on Boz Scaggs self-titled 1969 album which featured Allman. The audience may not have been up and dancing as they had been previously, but you don’t dance to the blues, you sit and absorb them. With blistering guitar work by Zingg, great organ work by Logan, perfect vocals by Scaggs, it was enthralling.
With Scaggs having fulfilled his obligation of singing the blues, he left the stage. But he left those in attendance with memories of a voice and performance that can still deliver a hit song like “Lowdown,” a soulful, ”Miss Sun,” a tender, “Sierra,” or an epic blues number like “Loan Me A Dime.” Ms. Mone’t will give them something to talk about the next morning as well. Despite having heard the blues, we should have locked the doors and never let them go.
Set List: Runnin’ Blue | Dry Spell | Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl | Sierra | Rainy Night In Georgia | Corrina, Corrina | Gone Baby Gone | Georgia | Miss Sun | Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)/I Thank You | Lowdown | Lido Shuffle|
Encore: What Can I Say | Cadillac Walk | Loan Me A Dime