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Concert Reviews:
Boz Scaggs, Los Lobos deliver a big night of music at Freedom Hill

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Friday, August 14, 2015

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STERLING HEIGHTS -- Early during his concert Wednesday night, Aug. 12, at the Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, Boz Scaggs promised to "move it around the musical map a little bit tonight."

He was speaking for the whole evening, too.

The pairing of Scaggs and opener Los Lobos made for an impressively broad stylistic palette on Wednesday, with strokes from rock and smooth R&B to disco, blues, jazz, Tex-Mex and South American Cumbia -- all well-rendered by the two acts. It was a sonic smorgasbord for music lovers, a much more rewarding experience than those who came simply to hear Scaggs' hit singles.

Los Lobos certainly set the bar high with 65-minutes of gritty eclecticism. The sextet from East L.A. started with something new -- "Made To Break Your Heart," the opening track from its upcoming new album "Gates of Gold" -- but quickly settled into more familiar fare such as "That Train Don`t Stop Here No More," "Will the Wolf Survive" and "Evangeline." There was a deceptive looseness and rough 'n' tumble to the performance as the group jammed its way through most of the songs, tossing in bits of the Temptations' "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" and Elmore James' "One Way Out" before bringing things to a blazing conclusion with "Mas y Mas" and its version of Ritchie Valens' "La Bamba," which also incorporated a bit of the Young Rascals' "Good Lovin'."

Scaggs took his time getting to the stage -- a full 45 minutes after Los Lobos finished, perhaps to let things cool down a bit for his more restrained and stylish set. But the 71-year-old singer-guitarist and his seven-piece band breathed its own kind of fire, one that simmered rather than burned but still had enough heat to make things cook.

Scaggs and company delivered the hits during its 14-song, 90-minute show -- an impressive retinue of 70s fare such as "Jojo," "Harbor Lights," "Georgia," "Lowdown," "Lido Shuffle" and "What Can I Say." But many of the best moments came from lesser known gems, whether it was the opening "Runnin' Blue" or soulful covers of Willie DeVille's "Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl" and "I'm a Fool to Care" by Ted Daffan's Texans. The shuffling title track from Scaggs' 1994 album "Some Change" was extended with plenty of room for soloing, while backup singer Monet Owens deftly covered Bonnie Raitt's duet part on "Hell To Pay" from Scaggs' latest album, "A Fool To Care" -- before she delivered her own glass-shattering rendition of "Until You Come Back To Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)."

And there could have been no better ending than "Loan Me a Dime," the blues epic from Scaggs' self-titled 1969 album whose nearly 15 minutes gave ample room for plenty of extended guitar excursions -- and sublime finish to a full-night showcase of rich musical accomplishment.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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