There aren’t a lot of people who can say they’ve been doing the same job for more than 40 years and still feel like they’re improving at it, but Boz Scaggs can.
Scaggs, 69, brings his Memphis Tour to Belly Up Aspen tonight at 9 for one performance.
“I’m feeling really good, both physically and mentally,” he said. “I’m not 20 anymore, but I’ve been lucky health-wise. My voice is better than ever, and I’m a better guitar player than any time in my life. I feel vital, and I’m still growing. That’s what it’s all about to me.”
Playing in Aspen brings back many memories for Scaggs, who remembers playing just about every venue Aspen had to offer in the mid 1960s through the ’70s.
“Aspen is an old stomping ground of mine,” Scaggs said. “I had a lot of friends here, including Hunter Thompson. We were friends in the ’70s and I can’t come here without thinking of Hunter. In fact, I got married in Aspen. I love being here.”
The veteran musician has 21 recordings in his discography that span many different styles, from rock ’n’ roll to jazz to blues, R&B and American roots music.
Raised in small towns in Texas and Oklahoma, Scaggs began playing guitar at age 13 and had strong influences from the variety of early radio stations he listened to in the ’50s.
After leaving the University of Wisconsin at Madison and honing his musical skills with several bands, Scaggs traveled to Europe and performed for several years abroad. When he returned to the U.S. in 1967, Skaggs went to San Francisco and became immersed in the hippie-psychedelic scene there, rejoining his longtime friend Steve Miller and recording two albums as bandmates.
In 1976, Scaggs recorded the album “Silk Degrees” with a group of studio musicians who would later form the band Toto. The album reached No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and topped the charts in a number of countries. Included on the album were four hit singles - “It’s Over,” “Lowdown,” “What Can I Say” and “Lido Shuffle.” It also included the song “We’re All Alone,” which became a crossover hit in several radio formats.
“I still enjoy playing most of those songs,” Scaggs said. “I can’t say that about all my music. ‘Lowdown’ has always been easy for me to perform. I still connect with the song. When I’m on stage, I love playing the hits. You can feel the crowd with that musician sixth sense, and you know when those songs are getting a strong reaction.”
The current tour features music from the 2013 recording “Memphis,” a mix of original material and classic recordings from different artists. It’s his first studio album in five years and led to a tour of the U.S., Canada and Japan. He’ll also perform several hits from his expansive music catalog.
Scaggs’ current band is composed of Richard Patterson on bass and Mike Logan on keyboards, both veteran musicians from the Chicago scene. They’ll be joined by Lamar Carter, of Los Angeles, on drums and a crew of San Francisco musicians that include Drew Zingg on guitar, Monet Owens — or Ms. Monet — performing backup vocals and Eric Crystal playing saxophone.
Scaggs will sing lead vocals and play his familiar custom guitar that looks similar to a Gibson 335. The show has no opening act.
“I’m enjoying performing more so than ever right now,” Scaggs said. “I’ve got a great band and the music sounds wonderful. This tour reminds me of why I became a musician in the first place.”