Boz Scaggs has played several concerts at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez in recent years, but his Sept. 12 show was a very special one in many ways. The concert comes on the heels of his first new recording in five years, Memphis. The album — recorded at the legendary Royal Studios in Memphis (Scaggs' father and grandparents were from Memphis) — may be his finest R&B recording since his first solo studio album, a monumental album that featured guitar legend Duane Allman on lead guitar.
Scaggs' latest concert featured a set list full of R&B classics mixed with his biggest hits in a consummate performance of American roots music. Backed up by a five-member team of veteran musicians and a truly talented R&B singer, Ms. Monét, Scaggs delivered a 100-minute set full of timeless classic hits. The show started with several of Scaggs' most well-known hits mixed with some of the new material. He then switched the mood with a set of American classics on acoustic guitar, before returning to one of the many electric guitars he played during the set.
At this point the crowd was allowed to swarm the stage to get close to the band, evoking a festive dance fever. The opening of the stage at midconcert continues to be one of the great features that makes the Santa Ynez venue such a fun and exciting place to see a concert. This unique stage access, combined with the near perfect lighting, sound and video production, makes the Chumash Casino the best place to see live music on the Central Coast.
While the audience moved forward, Ms. Monét (Conesha Monét Owens) took over lead singing duties, performing a medley of hits from R&B legends Sly & the Family Stone, James Brown and Sam & Dave. Ms. Monét belted out the songs to the delight of the surging crowd while Scaggs led the band in an intense R&B jam.
Of course, to the delight of the audience, Scaggs played most of the slick hit songs like “Lowdown” and “Lido Shuffle” from his biggest hit album in 1976, Silk Degrees. But it was his frequent sojourn into the Memphis Blues that made this a special night of music for the near-capacity crowd.
Click here to read a recent all-encompassing interview with Scaggs by Noozhawk's Jeff Moehlis.
— L. Paul Mann is a Noozhawk contributing writer. The opinions expressed are his own.