Boz Scaggs Brings His Everyman Blues Rock To Celebrity Theatre

Hiding behind the shades of soul, Boz Scaggs is a musician with a mission.EXPAND
Hiding behind the shades of soul, Boz Scaggs is a musician with a mission.
Chris Phelps

"Lido, whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh …”

Since 1976, the “Lido Shuffle” has been earworming its way into people’s consciousness with the subtle charm shared by every genius pop jackhammer. The decade was full of excellent pop tunes, but for Boz Scaggs, “Lido” was his most memorable hit by far, although “Lowdown” charted eight places higher, topping out at No. 3 that year.

The album, Silk Degrees, that came out that bicentennial year was also Scaggs’ biggest and best-selling record. It spawned the aforementioned “Lido Shuffle,” released a year later as a single, as well as a slew of other memorably soulful, bluesy rock songs especially the sappy, yet achingly melancholy “We’re All Alone,” which was famously covered by Rita Coolidge on her Anytime … Anywhere album from 1977. A fun fact about Silk Degrees is that three members of Scaggs’ backing band — bassist David Hungate, drummer Jeff Porcaro, and keyboardist David Paich — went on to form the band Toto that spawned the hit song “Africa.” That means there’s really only a short leap from Boz Scaggs to Weezer, who covered “Africa” just this year.

The now 74-year-old musician hasn’t had a charting hit in 30 years, but has managed to crank out a successful career that has been spent more in the shadows than the spotlight. Scaggs had some mild success in the early ’80s with a track on the soundtrack of the delightfully hokey 1980 John Travolta-Debra Winger film Urban Cowboy (“Look What You’ve Done To Me”) as well as a couple of charting songs from his 1980 record, Middle Man. After these, the well ran dry in terms of commercial hits, but Scaggs has recorded and toured off and on ever since.

Scaggs got his start in the mid-1960s with a poorly-received debut album. Featuring no original compositions, Boz was released in 1965 on the Swedish label Karusell Grammofon AB after the singer-songwriter spent some time gigging around Sweden as a solo performer. Luckily for Scaggs, the album was never released in the United States, so when he made his way back home and connected with old friend and former high school classmate Steve Miller (of future “Fly Like an Eagle” fame) in San Francisco, he ended up playing on Miller’s first two records, Children Of The Future (1968) and Sailor (1968) as a backup singer and rhythm guitarist.

After splitting with Miller, though the two have remained close over the years, Scaggs put out his first U.S. solo release, Boz Scaggs. The late Duane Allman of The Allman Brothers Band provided the lead guitar and the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, who also backed up a gal named Aretha Franklin on a little song called “Respect,” helped with the bottom end. Scaggs garnered some polite reviews on this but remained out of the spotlight until 1974’s Slow Dancer hit the charts at No. 81.

The Canton, Ohio, native still puts on a commanding show, though, and tours fairly constantly, playing shows around the U.S. throughout the year. Scaggs regularly changes up the set list, so you never know what you’re going to hear when you see his show. Nevertheless, there’s one song that is always on the list: The “Lido Shuffle.”

The song is so sneaky and simple and deceptively good. It grabs you in the all the right places, and no matter what kind of music you typically like, you can’t help but nod your head and smile.

“Lido … Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh.”

Is the song in your head now? “Lido Shuffle” just oozes a simpler, happier time. Listen to it again and see if sticks in your brain for a while.

Boz Scaggs. 7:30 p.m. Monday, October 22 at Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street; 602-267-1600; celebritytheatre.com. Tickets are $47.35 to $101.65 via celebritytheatre.ticketforce.com.

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