Scaggs Shuffle

A master of his unique craft, in whatever way that craft may be defined

Boz Scaggs
Boz Scaggs

It’s likely that the moment little William “Boz” Scaggs met a new friend, Steve Miller, at their highfalutin Dallas boys’ preparatory school, neither knew that a page was turning in American rock history.

Each of them, 15 years old, had messed around with guitars throughout their little-boyhood, and they found they shared an impassioned interest in the blues — a trait rare amongst their demographic that would inform their musical trajectories.

Scaggs and Miller, as we know, went on to play the blues along with everything but, trying their hands at blue-eyed soul and jazz rock before following the San Francisco psych-rock gold rush of the late ’60s, ending up with discographies composed mostly of straight-ahead rock singles.

Scaggs, however, conducts himself as a master of his unique craft, in whatever way that craft may be defined.

Exhibit A: An interview with Scaggs, according to his management’s website, requires a minimum service fee of $10,000. When I asked if he’d suffer to answer some questions over email instead, I was pretty much blown off.

Yeah, I listened to Silk Degrees when I started getting into ’70s music and was beguiled by groovy, funk-forward singles like “Lowdown” and “Lido Shuffle.”

But later, to me, these songs started sounding like Bruce Springsteen, or Van Morrison (definitely Van Morrison) — generally unoriginal and generally general. Cue their relegation to soft-rock radio.

Still, it’s true that Scaggs and Miller were among the first to synthesize black-dominated genres the way they did. Scaggs, in particular, has kept the spirit of the blues boiling beneath his bravado-laced façade. Take the almost stupidly poignant ballad “We’re All Alone,” for example, or “Look What You’ve Done to Me.”

Fortunately, much of Scaggs’ live sets nowadays feature classic jazz and folk standards as well as his originals, and the tunes — performed by a highly talented white man from wealth — are, of course, executed perfectly.

Boz Scaggs plays 7:30 pm Tuesday, Sept. 29, at the Hult Center; $23.50-$69.