Between the traffic, the parking and the crowds, “Tuesday’s in the Park” at Lewiston’s Artpark can be generously described as challenging to navigate. But those who made the trek on Tuesday were treated to one of the finest evenings of music imaginable.
Singer-songwriter Boz Scaggs made a stop in Lewiston and brought along his six-piece band and a mix of folk rock and blues in a lively 90-minute set.
Before the sun went down, singer Don McLean took the stage. Best known for his 1971 hit, “American Pie,” which became the anthem for a generation, McLean showed a depth to his music for fans who might have seen him as a one-hit wonder.
From “Jerusalem” to “Crossroads” and “Vincent,” his quirky tribute to Vincent van Gogh, McLean strummed his guitar and eased through a 30-minute set capped off with an extended version of “American Pie” that got the crowd to its feet, dancing, singing.
It segued perfectly to the arrival of Scaggs, who stepped out precisely at 8 p.m. and opened a 13-song set with “Runnin Blue,” a smooth, sax-infused song he co-wrote and released in 1971.
“We’re gonna move it around the musical map tonight,” Scaggs promised the crowd. His set list ran the gamut of his career as well as the careers of some of music’s more iconic names.
Accompanied by his longtime back-up singer Monet, Scaggs delivered many of his better-known songs including “JoJo,” “Georgia” and “Miss Sun,” one of his last singles to chart, reaching No. 14 in the U.S. in 1980.
But, as often is the case, Scaggs was at his best when he dug deeper into the catalog. “Harbor Lights” took fans back to 1976 and his most commercially successful album, “Silk Degrees.”
The man who came of age playing guitar as a member of the Steve Miller Band in the late 1960s showed he could still handle the axe, playing on nearly every song of the night.
Monet took to the mic mid-set and offered a stirring rendition of the Stevie Wonder song, “Until You Come Back to Me.” Scaggs returned with a string of crowd favorites including “Look What You’ve Done to Me,” a song popularized in the 1980 John Travolta film, “Urban Cowboy” and “Lowdown.” He closed out the set with easily his most recognizable song, “Lido Shuffle.”
Returning to the stage for a double encore, Scaggs rounded out the show in style, launching into a lengthy instrumental that afforded each of his band members a moment to enjoy the spotlight before finishing a wonderful evening of soul-stirring music with the Fats Domino hit, “Sick and Tired.”
With the sun lost behind the horizon and a cool breeze drifting across the hill at Artpark, it was the perfect scene for a mellow evening of folk, rock and blues delivered by a man who genuinely seemed appreciative of the crowd and happy to be on stage performing for the sixth decade of his career.
In an era filled with far too many entitled, marginally talented musicians, Scaggs and McLean offered a refreshing evening of music from a pair of septuagenarians who love what they do, appreciate the ticket-buying public and showed, like a fine wine, showed their voices and their music has gotten better with age.
Boz Scaggs and Don McLean
Tuesday evening at Artpark in Lewiston.