If Boz Scaggs’ classic 1976 album, Silk Degrees, was aptly named for its silky blend of pop, rock and R&B, then his new release, A Fool to Care, comes by its name in a far less descriptive manner.
Scaggs is stumped during a recent phone chat from Nashville to come up with a pithy word like “silk” to describe A Fool to Care’s soulful blend of the sounds of Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma that fuel this bluesy pop/R&B collection of covers.
“This one is not unlike Silk Degrees as it’s all over the map. There’s rock and Latin and some ballads, some R&B, and it’s not unlike what I’ve done a number of times, but this one I had trouble naming,” Scaggs, 70, said.
Recording the album was considerably easier. Scaggs and producer Steve Jordan and some top-shelf musicians, including guest duet partners Bonnie Raitt and Lucinda Williams, gathered songs by Al Green, the Spinners, Huey “Piano” Smith, The Band and one new Scaggs original (Hell to Pay, sung with Raitt) and recorded them in a sprint at Blackbird Studio in Nashville.
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“I like to say it may have taken us three to four days to record it but four decades to make it,” Scaggs says of the experience. The result is one of Scaggs’ better efforts in a career that dates back to the 1960s when he was a guitarist in the pre-Joker Steve Miller Band.
“It’s a different motivation now than when I was starting out,” the Ohio-born musician said. “I have a distinct style. I know my voice better. I know my musicality better and know how to get where I want to go and am not stabbing into the dark and running full-tilt like when I was 20 and 30 years old. I have a very mature band of musicians who can play the variety of material I recorded over the years.”
Scaggs will perform two concerts in South Florida to support A Fool to Care: Monday at Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale and Wednesday at Kravis Center in West Palm Beach.
Scaggs is in a particularly prolific mode. The new album follows the similar Memphis (2013) and two well-regarded standards albums and frequent tours. A far cry from the 1980s when Scaggs only released two albums, the hit Middle Man in 1980 and the obscure Other Roads in 1988.
“I just got away from the business for 10 years doing other things,” he said. “I sort of wore myself out. But I built it up again for the last six or seven years, touring quite a bit, and it’s that touring that got me immersed in music again. It used to be about selling records. … and it’s a different ballgame now. I’m not in that contemporary pop hit mode. I’m doing things I love.”
Scaggs kills one bit of lore from his past. Word had it that his manager turned producers of Saturday Night Fever down when approached to place his single Lowdown on the 1977 soundtrack.
The lack of foresight was said to have cost Scaggs and cowriter David Paich of Toto millions in royalties when Fever became a pop culture game-changer.
“To tell the truth … I wasn’t aware that the song was pitched for the movie or that anyone in my circle had declined,” Scaggs said. “That sounds unlikely that we would have declined the offer. Part of what you do as a songwriter and publisher is to get your songs in projects. That’s one of those urban legends.”
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If you go
What: Boz Scaggs in concert
Where: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday
Information: 954-462-0222 or Ticketmaster.
Second show: Scaggs also plays at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach