Now that he’s an established Napa Valley grapegrower and vintner, Boz Scaggs stays a bit closer to home these days.
Oh sure, he continues to perform around the world, even team up with fellow headliners to perform at festivals like Hardly, Strictly Bluegrass in Golden Gate Park last fall.
But when he’s in the area, he’s more than willing to call up the band and have them assemble at the beautifully restored Uptown Theater for an evening set aside for local fans. That was the case last June and once again last Friday night. Two Boz Scaggs concerts in Napa within six, seven months of one another — unbelievable!
Well, we’re indeed believers now, so much so that merely announcing a Scaggs date at the Uptown means a “sold-out” sign will be slapped across the promotional poster well before the band tunes up.
Yes, an enthusiastic crowd of Scaggsophiles turned out to kick off the weekend Friday night and to sing along, dance and bask in the glow of the hits from this sultan of blue-eyed soul.
Best known for his innovative white soul music during the 1970s, the very versatile Scaggs has recorded many other styles of music as well, ranging from rhythm ‘n’ blues and folk to slick urban pop and, yes, disco.
For his recent engagement, Scaggs returned to his earliest love, the blues, kicking off the affair with an agreeable “Running Blues,” a song from the repertoire that took us back to the early 1970s.
Incorporating Drew Zingg’s gut-wrenching guitar solos, the program paraded out Allen Toussaint’s “Hercules,” reacquainted all with the Broadway nights of “JoJo,” the honesty of “Sick and Tired” from the remarkable ’97 release, “Come on Home,” and returned to the blue-eyed soul of his late-’70s works with outstanding tracks such as “Desire” and “Thanks to You,” standouts from the classy “Dig” release of a decade ago.
The danceable Scaggs was represented by a pair of hits from “Silk Degrees” — “Lowdown” and “Lido Shuffle” — classics that had a majority up and dancing, the rest rockin’ their buns in the comfortable Uptown seats.
There was a giant singalong with the performance of “Harbor Lights; ditto for the warmy and fuzzy “Georgia.”
As always, one of the songs we look forward to on the set list is “Miss Sun,” a torrid, bluesy rocker that allows terrific band vocalist, Monet Owens, the pride of Oakland, to bask in the spotlight’s glow. The arrangement is tight and sassy and features the glorious saxophone of soulful Eric Crystal and dazzling keyboard stylings of Mike Logan.
Once “Miss Monet” plays musical patty-cake with Scaggs on “Miss Sun,” she gets an opportunity to solo. Once again, she showed off her considerable talents with a powerhouse rendition of Bonnie Raitt’s “Let’s Give ’Em Something to Talk About.”
This is the second show in Napa when the headliner neglected to include at least one of the songs from a pair of recent recorded salutes to the great American songbook. Maybe Scaggs feels Rodgers and Hart don’t mix with downhome blues. Maybe next time — because we know there will be a next time. Scaggs will be back. He doesn’t have to go far — he’s one of us.