Friday, July 20 , 2018, 12:46 am | Overcast 66º


Jeff Moehlis: The Lowdown on Boz Scaggs at The Granada

Early in Boz Scaggs’ delightful concert at The Granada Theatre Tuesday night, he promised, “We’re going to move it around the musical map tonight.”

That map would include songs that the audience “heard on the radio or CDs or 8-tracks,” the latter drawing a lot of chuckles. And move it around he did, quite nicely, with a diverse set of highlights from his nearly 50 years as a solo artist.

Before this, the evening began with an engaging opening set by Jeff LeBlanc, a singer with a smooth enough voice to do a knock-out cover Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” which he said he learned for a friend’s wedding.

His amusing banter and original songs were also a treat, and it was especially cool when he looped his acoustic guitar and vocals to build up a rich outro to his song “What Do You Got to Lose.”

Boz kicked off his set with the tasteful, swingin’ “Runnin’ Blue” in which he laments that “This runnin’ round life / Ain’t doing me no good.” 

Next up was the first of several choice covers: Mink DeVille’s “Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl,” which Boz had recorded for his 2013 album Memphis.

Then it was back to Boz’s songbook with “Jojo,” maybe — and I invite readers to correct me — the first hit pop song about a pimp. A small gripe, Boz’s vocals were buried a bit in the mix, so I found it hard to hear him singing about Jojo diggin’ the spinning lights and the Broadway nights.

After “Some Change” with nice bluesy guitar, Boz made his first visit to his classic album Silk Degrees — which is (yikes!) 40 years old — namely the smooth yacht rock song “Harbor Lights,” which included a great keyboard solo by Michael Logan and no doubt brought some people back to 1976.

Next up was another cover, which Boz said he heard growing up, “Rich Woman” by Li’l Millet and His Creoles, an amusing song with a swampy groove.

Then it was back to Silk Degrees for “Georgia,” a cheerful-sounding love song with the twist that the singer is singing from prison for an unspecified offense, perhaps getting involved with Georgia when she was too young?

A different sort of cover followed, with background vocalist Ms. Monét stepping into the spotlight for an amazing cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Until You Come Back to Me.” 

Ms. Monét has a truly impressive range, from lower notes that can be as gritty as is called for to super-high notes a couple octaves above middle C. which she can summon seemingly effortlessly.

Boz then went from a love song, “Look What You’ve Done to Me,” to the more cynical “Lowdown,” a highlight from Silk Degrees that is arguably a perfectly crafted song.

The evidence? Consider that little bass flourish, the background string sounds, the simple but effective high keyboard part, the subtle background vocals, the chord changes for the instrumental solos and, perhaps most importantly, the blend.

The main set ended with another Silk Degrees gem, “Lido Shuffle” with the impossibly catchy chorus, “Lido... Whoa oh oh oh-oh-oh.”

The encore kept the Silk Degrees train going with “What Can I Say,” and then Boz went back to an earlier era with the epic blues workout “Loan Me A Dime.” 

While it’s worth tracking down Boz’s original recording of this song on his solo debut album because of the smokin’ guitar solo by Duane Allman, the live version didn’t disappoint with a tasty guitar solo by Boz, followed by a cool organ solo by Logan and then fellow guitarist Michael Miller bringing it home.

The show concluded with a cover of the Fats Domino song “Sick and Tired” and the “Last Tango on 16th Street,” a Jack “Applejack” Walroth song about San Francisco’s Mission District from Boz’s latest album, 2015’s A Fool to Care.

Boz definitely moved it around the musical map, showing range and taste that makes it clear why he can still delight an audience 40 years or more since his songs first rode the airwaves or graced their 8-track tapes.

— Jeff Moehlis is a Noozhawk contributing writer and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his web site, The opinions expressed are his own.

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