Bay Area rock veteran and nightclub impresario Boz Scaggs doesn’t take any routes when he’s making a record. For his latest Nashville-recorded disc “A Fool to Care,” he and producer Steve Jordan combed through roughly a hundred obscure compositions to select covers like Al Green’s “Full of Fire,” The Spinners’ “Love Don’t Love Nobody” and Huey “Piano” Smith’s “High Blood Pressure.” For his own original “Hell to Pay,” he enlisted his old friend Bonnie Raitt as a duet partner, and pieced it together from random scraps of lyrics and guitar-part demos he’d been saving. “I don’t really keep a formal notebook – I just have bits of paper that I put in a box, where they pile up,” he says.
You have your own Napa winery, Scaggs Vineyards. And it all started when someone gave you some grape vine cuttings?
Well, my wife and I bought some undeveloped land up in the Napa-Sonoma area. And in the course of building a little cabin, we put in some fruit trees and some olive trees. And a friend had some grape vines left over, and asked if we would like to have those planted. So after a couple of years, the grapes started appearing. And then you wonder what it might taste like if those grapes were harvested, and then at some point you end up with a bottle of grape juice in your hand, and you take it from there. So it came about quite by happenstance.
You’re even served at Chez Panisse. How much do you produce, annually?
Yes, we’re on the wine list at Chez Panisse from time to time. But it’s just a little sideline, something that we’ve been doing now for 15 years. And we’re very, very small – we generate around 350 to 400 cases of wine a year, which is meant to serve family and friends. And then we sell the excess. So it’s more a gentleman farmer’s hobby, but wine is just part of the conversation where we live. So to have our own is an immense pleasure — it really connects us to the land that we live on.
Do you choose songs the same careful way you do grapes?
It formally started seven years ago, when I began to do this in earnest in a project I did with Michael McDonald and Donald Fagen, called The Dukes of September. We spent months on the Internet, going back and forth, looking at material. And in the course of that, we reviewed hundreds of songs, and that process goes on to this day, really. I consider a lot of songs before we narrow it down to a short list of 15 or 16.
IF YOU GO
Where: Masonic, 1111 California St., SF
When: 7:30 p.m. May 16
Tickets: $50 to $75
Contact: (800) 745-3000, www,livenation.com