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Scott Boyer on Duane, Macon days and new Cowboy record

Delawhere
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Headline: Scott Boyer talks Eric Clapton, Duane Allman before show

BYLINE: Matt Wake mwake@al.com
Huntsville Times (Alabama)

Scott Boyer is looking through a manila envelope for a setlist he and Tommy Talton made a few days ago. The singer, songwriter and guitarist just got back to his Florence home after a six-and-a-half hour drive up from Grayton Beach, Fla. -- and a stop at a local KFC to pick up supper. He and Talton are playing a free show Sunday at the Furniture Factory. Keyboardist NC Thurman will accompany the long-running duo. Boyer's son, Shoals singer/songwriter Scott III, will open the show.

Well-schooled classic Southern music fans know Boyer and guitarist/singer Talton from their days with Cowboy, the '70s country-rock group they founded with bassist George Clark, multi-instrumentalists Bill Pillmore and Pete Kowalke and drummer Tomm Wynn. Capricorn Records, the Macon-founded Southern rock label that released classic material from Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker Band, Wet Willie and other acts, issued Cowboy's debut "Reach for the Sky" in 1971. That LP is full of chill acoustic, Neil Young-meets-Allmans tunes like "Livin' in the Country." Cowboy's follow-up "5'll Getcha Ten" was recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios and also released in 1971.

Even if you've never heard "5'll Getcha Ten" you've probably heard later versions of two gorgeous ballads from the LP by more famous artists. Namely, "All My Friends," which Gregg Allman covered masterfully on his 1973 solo bow "Laid Back," and "Please Be With Me," which Eric Clapton covered sleepily on his 1974 LP "461 Ocean Boulevard."

Boyer has found his Huntsville setlist. "We'll be doing mostly stuff from the old Cowboy days," he says via phone. "And some newer things too. Generally speaking Tommy doesn't discuss his songs very much when he plays them, and generally speaking I do."

At 68, Boyer is sharp witted and excellent storyteller. Below are excerpts from our conversation.

On the genesis of "Please Be With Me": "I was sitting in this motel room all by myself, and just for busy work I grabbed a pad and pencil and started writing freeform. ... About 10 minutes later I had, like, 10 verse and three choruses, but nothing rhymed and nothing made any sense. It was just right out of my head and onto the paper. And I started connecting things. Put the third line from the third verse with the fourth line in the eight verse. Not necessarily because they made sense but because they rhymed. And I put together like three verses and a chorus and I put the pad down and I rolled over and went to sleep.

"And Duane (Allman) came into town the next day and said, 'I want to play on this record with ya'll but I want to play something brand new.' We started tossing things around. And I said, 'Well I wrote this thing last night. There's nothing much to it." And I played the song for Duane and (producer) Johnny Sandlin was also in the room, and when I finished it they both went, 'Wow, you wrote that last night, man? That's beautiful.' It is? [Laughs.]"

The story behind "All My Friends": "We had to find someplace to live so we rented this old farmhouse outside this little town called Cochran, which was about 30 miles south of Macon. It was a great place. A three-bedroom house but each room was like 50 feet by 50 feet, so we had a bed in every corner of every bedroom and everyone had their own little area, curtains and whatever blocking you off from everybody else. A few months after we moved in some friends from Gainesville came up to see us, and maybe a month or so after them some people we knew from Tallahassee we knew came up to see us.

"After that some people Tommy knew from Orlando came up to see us. Then some people from Jacksonville came up to see us. And none of these people ever left. So pretty soon we had 50 hippies living in a three-bedroom farmhouse outside this little town. It was a very conservative little area. And the land lady came out after six months and knocked on the door and said, 'What do you guys think you're doing? None of my neighbors will talk to me. They're all mad at me for renting you the house. You guys got to get out of here.' And we moved into Macon proper and had to tell everyone else they had to go back to Orlando or Gainesville or wherever, and that was the basis for writing that song."

On Cowboy being the backing band for the 'Gregg Allman Tour' live album: "I'd go pass Gregg's dressing room and I'd see him in there and he'd be sitting in there partying with somebody doing I don't want to say what and I'd go, 'That guy is never going to be able to do a show' and five minutes later he would walk onstage and play great. Every night."

On Clapton covering "Please Be With Me": Three or four years after the ('461 Ocean Boulevard') record came out, Clapton did a show at the University of Alabama and I was in town for the weekend. One of the roadies came out and met me at a club downtown the night before the show and said, 'Why don't you come out to the show tomorrow night and I'll introduce you to Eric Clapton?' I said, 'Man, that's great because I had three or four people (tell me) how Eric Clapton came to get 'Please Be With Me.' One said it was them that played it for them. Another said it was them that played it for him.

"So I thought, 'Cool, I'll meet Eric Clapton and get the real story.' I went out there anticipating this great story of how he got my song and we sat down and discussed some guitar that had just come out, just making small talk. Finally I had to ask, 'Tell me the story, man. How did you come to record 'Please Be With Me.'' And he looked back at me and said, 'I don't remember really. Somebody played it for me and I liked it.' I was like, 'That's it?'" [Laughs.]

On Cowboy reportedly being Duane Allman's favorite band: "Cowboy wasn't Duane's favorite band. The Allman Brothers was Duane's favorite band. I guarantee you. He put that band together with a passion I haven't seen out of many people. Once those guys got out on the road and started playing they were not going to be denied. I knew Gregg and Duane both as just guys. I didn't know Duane as the greatest guitar player in the South, which he was at the time. He was just another guy that played music for a living when I hung with him. So I suppose if I know anything anybody doesn't it's that he liked meat-and-threes and could have a regular conversation with anybody you sat down with. There were no airs."

On recording at Muscle Shoals Sound: "The bathroom was in the middle of the playing room. So if somebody was in the office or control room and had to use the bathroom you had to stop recording and because the bathroom was in the playing room. a lot of people cut vocals in there. ... The back of the door in the bathroom had everybody's signature on it, Linda Ronstadt, Mick Jagger, just everybody. It was a great door, but somebody took it off the hinges and took it home at some point and I guess I can't blame them for that"

On a new Cowboy album: "We started recorded an album several years back and the project fell to the wayside. We ran into some technical difficulties and we are trying right now to finish that album up. All we lack is a few vocals, a few harmony parts and a few guitar parts, and we will have a new Cowboy album out, probably sometime next year."

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Topic starter Posted : September 13, 2015 11:31 pm
Rusty
(@rusty)
Peach Extraordianire

Thanks for posting this! Great to hear that Scott is doing alright! I hope to see him playing somewhere soon!

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Posted : September 14, 2015 6:51 am
MartinD28
(@martind28)
World Class Peach

Thanks for posting this! Great to hear that Scott is doing alright! I hope to see him playing somewhere soon!

I second that.

I found this recently on youtube. This is for the old dedicated fans.

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Posted : September 14, 2015 8:45 am
Charlesinator
(@charlesinator)
Extreme Peach

Thanks for posting. It's funny that Clapton couldn't remember who turned him on to "Please Be With Me". Scott told me something similar when I asked him about the Boyer and Talton LP, my favorite Cowboy record. He told me he didn't remember making it!

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Posted : September 14, 2015 11:13 am
steadyhorse
(@steadyhorse)
Peach Master

Thanks for the read, love anything by Tommy Talton and Scott Boyer.

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Posted : September 14, 2015 2:30 pm
BrerRabbit
(@brerrabbit)
Universal Peach

good read. like most fingerpickers of that time , cut my teeth on Please Be With Me.

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Posted : September 15, 2015 11:06 am
TuffJew
(@tuffjew)
Peach Master

THKS for posting this

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Posted : September 22, 2015 6:29 am
Drummy
(@drummy)
Peach Pro

Aw man, I can't believe I missed that show! I live near Huntsville and would have loved to have been at that show. I had not heard a thing about it in the papers...... 🙁

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Posted : September 24, 2015 7:57 am
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