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Boz Scaggs: "It's Like Magic, What We Do."

Leo Sidran By

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Just hearing the name Boz Scaggs evokes a feeling. It's a hip, laid back, soulful, approachable feeling. It's a southern thing. But it's a San Francisco thing too. He is, as his most recent record proclaims, Out Of the Blues. But he's played his share of rock and roll, r&b, and even jazz too.

When Boz hit it big in the late '70s with his record Silk Degrees, he was already knee deep in the swamp, with a half-dozen solo records to his credit, and plenty of pavement behind him too. He says, "I woke up every day for 10 years with a list as long as my arm of things to take care of." Until the success of that album, despite recording for the biggest labels in the world, he never had a manager. But he was determined, and with each new record he climbed just a little further up the mountain, searching for the next thing.

In fact he always thought of himself as more of a searcher or a traveler than he did a musician. "Music was my ticket," he says. Maybe that's why he has been known to take extended hiatuses from recording and touring. For example, he spent most of the '80s staying home in San Francisco, and avoiding the intensity of the road. (Although he did supplement a little by opening a club called Slims in San Francisco, where he has lived since the '70s.)

Still, he concedes that much of his life has been spent chasing that feeling that can only be found on stage. He tells me, "It's the most wonderful sensation there is. It's magic what we do. It's magic, what we feel. We are chosen, we get a hold of that live wire and we never want to let go."

Here, he is in turns philosophical, rhapsodic, nostalgic, and matter of fact about the 1960s, his solo career, success, ambition, rhythm sections, songwriting, performing, getting older, and what he's reading today.

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