” I know she’s a good girl… but at that time I just didn’t understand….” – Boz Scaggs, ” Loan Me a Dime ” (original lyrics by Fenton Robinson)
The gravelly voice came over the squawkbox overhead the pre-show crowd milling about Forsyth Street outside the historic Florida Theatre, sounding a cautionary alarm to those about to be rocked: ” No cameras or recording of any kind will be permitted during the show”. What a concept! You mean, no incredibly annoying cell phones pointed at eye level throughout the show? No hopelessly self-absorbed patrons endlessly twitting, posting, and preening as if the show were in their pants, instead of on stage? No shameless Rudees standing to shoot low-resolution video that even they will never watch? ( Hint: some of us came to watch the artist, not take part in your streaming Reality of One). Flowers, hugs, and kisses to the pioneering new artist taking such bold strides in laying down the law against this tide of …. what’s that you say? You mean the guy thrusting this groundbreaking shovel into the social media landfill has been around since playing with Steve Miller in 1967 ???
Striding onstage just behind his band, Boz recoiled in mock Dracula fashion as the center spotlight flooded over him. No opening act, no stage props, no laser light show, not even a banner behind the band. Or a merch table in the lobby! This would be a night focused on the music and the players, befitting a veteran singer/songwriter/guitarist never known for drawing attention to himself; a guy who basically took the 80s off and walked away from the business because the muse had left him and he refused to simply recycle the 1979 multi-platinum ” Silk Degrees” like a prison inmate stamping out license plates. ” We’re trying out some new material ” , he explained, cranking out selections from his latest CD, ” Memphis “, recorded in the Cradle of Rock at the original Royal Studio of now-deceased Willie Mitchell, where those great Al Green records of the 70s were created. Introducing numbers with short vignettes about the songwriter or the selection of the tune to cover, Boz hit the highlights of the current release, including Willy De Ville’s ” Mixed Up Shook Up Girl “, the traditional ” Corrina, Corrina “, and a tender version of Tony Joe White’s ” Rainy Night in Georgia “. Boz was in fine voice, able to find his upper register without strain, and his guitar playing was tasteful and bluesy.
Yet the crowd of aging Boomers rendered only polite applause and muted approval until Boz stepped back from the mike to let ” the shy one “, the dynamic Los Angelino singer, Ms. Monet, whip the crowd to its feet with a medley of Sly Stone’s ” Thank You ( Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again) “, and Isaac Hayes and David Porter’s Memphis classic, ” I Thank You “. The fiesty Ms. Monet’s gospel-flavored scatting and call-and-response to Boz’ solos immediately kicked the show up a notch. Scaggs didn’t miss the momentum change, stepping on the gas to segue into his most popular, infectious material from ” Silk Degrees”, firing off ” Georgia”, ” Lowdown”, and ” Harbor Lights” before closing with a pulsating ” Lido Shuffle ” that had the crowd yearning for the glory days of 1979, when they “could do all night what now takes all day to do”, as Billy Wirtz says. He even dropped down a mirror ball from the ceiling to create an 80s disco feel to the end of the set.
At that point, all of the AARPs in front had either stood or been helped to their feet, and the applause was deafening for the first time all night. Boz returned for a rollicking ” What Can I Say? “, and seemed sincerely amazed to be brought back for a second encore, wondering aloud, ” Tuesday night? ” No doubt knowing that the Allman Joys started here before Gregg’s fateful call to Duane, Boz noted that ” we’re in Allman Brothers territory here “, and dedicated the closer, Fenton Robinson’s ” Loan Me A Dime “, to the memory of Brother Duane, who played on the 1969 studio version of the song when Boz had the incredible good fortune to be backed on his first major release by the legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. The song’s slow organ lead simmered through two verses before the tempo and volume began to build, and able guitarist Drew Zingg ripped through a credible version of Skydog’s solo crescendo to finish off the show.
As the lights came on and the band finished their bows, the patrons scrambled to whip out their IPods, Droids, IPads, and cameraphones, desperate to show proof to their followers that they had, indeed, been present. As if the moments were not enough!
—– with love from your Luddite correspondent, Nanker Phledge