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Lone Star Sounds: Boz Scaggs brings ‘Memphis’ home

Posted 12:00am on Wednesday, Apr. 17, 2013

Boz Scaggs can still hear the sounds of his youth.

“I was a child of early rock and roll,” says the Plano-raised singer-songwriter. “In the mid-’50s, there was a [radio] station called WRR that had a wonderful roots music program every night called Cat’s Caravan. There was a great R&B station, KNOK. At night, I could get WLAC in Nashville, which was a deep South R&B station. At midnight, a station out of Chicago called Music ‘Til Dawn came on, and it was jazz, a little more progressive music. ”

The 68-year-old musician’s formative experiences with radio stations unconstrained by genre helps ground his latest album, the just-released Memphis. In support of the new record, Scaggs will perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Annette Strauss Square in downtown Dallas.

Produced by acclaimed drummer Steve Jordan (who has performed with stars like Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and John Mayer), the 12-song collection was recorded, as the title would suggest, at the legendary Royal Recording Studios in Memphis. The facility has hosted some titanic talents over the years - Al Green, Ike and Tina Turner, the Staples Singers and Chuck Berry have all cut albums at Royal - and Scaggs himself previously recorded there (which resulted in his 1997 LP Come On Home).

Memphis took a leisurely route to realization, according to Scaggs, who says he’d been “thinking about it for some time,” and first pitched the idea to Jordan a couple years ago. Schedules took some time to align, but once both men had openings, they convened at Royal Recording Studios, a antique space Scaggs says is tough to find these days.

“It’s a style of room that there used to be a number of,” Scaggs says. “Record companies used to have their own recording studios ... there were places like Muscle Shoals, Ala. or Sun Recording ... the room was already dialed in, it was all set. ... [Royal] hasn’t changed; there was a sound already there, you could go in with the right players ... and it’s got a feeling already.”

He’ll bring that vintage vibe to North Texas, where he graduated from St. Mark’s School of Texas in the late ‘50s. Scaggs says, “It’s nice to come back and see a few friends, and feel the local vibe.” And just maybe, he’ll help the audience hear the sounds he’s never forgotten.

Quick hits

Congrats to Fort Worth pop-rock foursome the Unlikely Candidates, which, as first reported by music industry website Kings of A&R, has signed a deal with Atlantic Records. (This makes them the second DFW act, after rapper Snow Tha Product, to ink with the major label.) The band is currently writing material for its debut album, and will perform Friday at the Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge as part of the Paste Untapped Pre-Party. ... Dallas choral art-pop collective the Polyphonic Spree has pushed the release date of its first album in six years, Yes It's True, from May 28 to Aug. 6. The Spree is scheduled to perform at Dallas’ HomeGrown Music and Art Festival May 11 and Arlington’s Levitt Pavilion May 25. ... Billy Bob’s Texas opened a retail outpost at Dallas’ Love Field earlier this week. The store, which sells everything from the Live at Billy Bob’s CD series to T-shirts and shot glasses, features elements of the famous Fort Worth honky tonk, including a wall of famous hand-prints.

Preston Jones, 817-390-7713 Twitter: @prestonjones

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