Scott Boyer Talks About THE CAPRICORN RHYTHM SECTION
A lot has happened since Scott Boyer's days with Cowboy and Capricorn Records. Musically, he has been a stalwart on various stages, playing in groups such as The Locust Fork Band, The Cadillacs,and The Decoys. He also has been active recording with and producing several acts. Recently, he joined with fellow musicians Johnny Sandlin, Tommy Talton, Paul Hornsby and Bill Stewart, with side orders of Lee Roy Parnell and Bonnie Bramlett, to form Capricorn Rhythm Section. In a December 5, 2005 interview, here is what Scott had to say about this latest venture.
Q: Exactly how did the Capricorn Rhythm Section (herein referred to as CRS) come about?
SCOTT: About six or eight months ago, I got a call from Bill Stewart, the drummer for CRS and who was also in Cowboy for awhile. He told me he'd been speaking to Jack Hall, Jimmy Hall's brother, who was putting together some sort of all-star band from the Capricorn days. Jack had suggested to Bill that we do the same thing with the Capricorn Rhythm Section, so we talked the idea around for awhile and decided to explore the notion. The band ended up being myself, Tommy Talton, Bill Stewart, Johnny Sandlin on bass and Paul Hornsby on keyboards.
Q: Is this the same thing you were talking about when you said that you might reform Cowboy under a different name?
SCOTT: This is a similar take, although rather than it being Cowboy, it is CRS, plus Lee Roy Parnell who found out we were doing it. I found out a few years ago that he was a big Cowboy fan. He called Johnny and said I want to be in the band.
Q: So you couldn't say no?
SCOTT: No, really. I mean, what are you going to do? You say, okay man, you're in the band. Rehearsal's Monday at one. Be there.
We've done several rehearsals and we've done a few gigs. We did one gig four nights in a row. "Jam For Duane" was the official title of it. It's a thing they do over in Gadsden every year. It's kind of a central location. Paul has to come from Macon, and Bill and Tommy have to come from Atlanta. Johnny and I come from over here (the Muscle Shoals area). Johnny has a fellow who owns a club over there who got him to install a studio. It's a pretty neat little place.
Q: This was the place you've talked of before? Where they had Johnny's birthday party?
Q: Johnny doesn't own the whole thing?
SCOTT: He doesn't. Carl Weaver is the proprietor of the place (The 2nd Street Music Hall, Gadsden AL). Johnny runs the recording end of things over there. Anyway, we did four nights there and then the following Tuesday went over to Macon and played at the Georgia Hall of Fame. We had a great show there. Gregg (Allman) showed up and sat in with us, along with a couple of other people--- E.G. Kight, a blues singer out of Atlanta, and Oscar Toney Jr. The place was supposed to hold about 200 people, but there were more like 650. They came in from all over the place. Somehow, it got on the Allman Brothers' website that we were doing this thing, so a whole lot of people showed up for it.
Q: Did you meet any Cowboy fans there?
SCOTT: There were a good many. Our song list is comprised mainly of songs that somebody in the Rhythm Section had a hand in. Some of it is Cowboy stuff. We're doing a few songs off of the "Laid Back" album because Johnny produced it. We're doing a Marshall Tucker song because Paul Hornsby produced them. We're doing a song off of the Dickie Betts album that Johnny produced. And a couple of Eddie Hinton tunes because Johnny and him were good buddies, and we did do some recording work with Eddie. Plus, his stuff is just great.
Q: Any new stuff?
SCOTT: Not at this point. We're doing a song that I wrote maybe 10 or 12 years ago called "Don't Hit Me No More". It was on a Jimmy Hall album that we did at Johnny's back in the mid-'90s. And there's another tune called "She Cranks My Tractor" that's maybe seven or eight years old. I mean, you say new stuff. This is newer than the Cowboy things.
Q: What I'm saying are things that most people have not heard before.
SCOTT: We're only doing a few. There's a tune of Tommy's called "Watch Out Baby" that I don't think has ever been out on CD. But once again, it's a song he wrote like 15 years ago. It's just never been released before.
There is some talk about going into a studio and actually doing an album, which will depend upon the situation. We're doing another gig on the 30th (30 Dec 05) down in Gadsden. After that, we're kind of shopping for a booking agent to put together some dates that we can do. The general plan, although plans change, is to have everybody in the Rhythm Section open themselves up for six weeks or two months, to make this band the priority during that period. So any gigs we book, we'll go do them. Any other time, if a gig comes up and everyone can do it, we'll go do it.
(As regards recording), we have some pretty good stuff on tape. Johnny has an excellent studio situation at the club in Gadsden. Everything goes on a multi-track hard drive so it can be worked with after the fact. So if we want to, we can take it back to Johnny's and mix it.
Johnny did record five shows in four days. So I've been listening to all of these tapes--- CDs, rather--- trying to figure out what to do with them and I finally came to the conclusion last week, after driving myself and everybody around me crazy, that we should just take the last show that we did, on Saturday, when we had the biggest crowd. I don't know if those are the best performances of the songs that we did, but the energy was really good onstage and the crowd really responded. I want to go into Johnny's and mix that whole show. Johnny's mixed five or six things from some other shows, what he thought were the best versions of some songs. But to me, the energy of that last show was really good. It was the fifth show in a row and we got better as we went along. So what I want to do is just mix that whole last show and possibly release it as a live album, at some point. We did about 22 or 23 songs and we could pick the best 12 or 15 of them.
Q: If it sounds good, are you thinking about shopping labels?
SCOTT: At this point, we're just talking.The solid plans are to go out and do some gigs. What we're looking more for now is a booking agent. Somebody who gets up in the morning and works at booking bands all day long. I could do it, but I write and perform and work in the studio. Booking is something I don't do every day. I don't get up in the morning and read the trades and find out who's signing bands and who's fixing to go out on tour and might need an opening act. I'm just not in the know on the mainline stuff.
Q: I used to listen to "Opening" and "Living In the Country" over and over again. Are you planning on doing more Cowboy songs?
SCOTT: We're doing "Living In the Country".
Q: You are?
SCOTT: Yeah. I changed the key. I actually moved the key up. Most people as they get older, the key comes down because they can't sing that high anymore. But, God, I listened to it. It was originally in E on the record and I can't sing that low. (laughs) I moved it up to G and I think at the very least, my vocals sound better. I'm more comfortable singing it in that key. We're doing "Living In the Country", "Please Be With Me", "Where Can You Go?", "Time Will Take Us", and "Long Ride".
Q: "Message In the Wind"?
SCOTT: No, we haven't done that one yet. Right now, we have about a 30 song playlist. Paul had never played any of the Cowboy stuff before and Johnny had never really played any of it before, either, even though he produced it. They're having to learn all these songs as we go along. We pick up a few every time we rehearse. Like I said, we have a playlist of about 30 songs and we made up a list of 60 or 70 possible songs to do.
Q: That many?
SCOTT: Yeah, but I doubt that we'll get around to all of them. Tommy and Johnny and I just got together and said, well, should we do this song and we say, yeah or no. We tried to prioritize it. We're doing a couple of Lee Roy's tunes. He's a damn good songwriter and singer and slide player. We're doing "Ought To Be a Law" and "Love Without Mercy". He's singing "Queen of Hearts" and singing the shit out of it. And Dicky Betts' tune, "Rain".
Q: It is so weird to think of Lee Roy with the band. I just never connected him to Capricorn.
SCOTT: Well, I met him in the '80s down in Panama City when he was hanging out down there and I didn't see him again until six or seven years ago. He was up here for a benefit show and he reintroduced himself to me and told me then what a huge Cowboy fan he'd always been. He's come to the Shoals a few times since then doing shows and I've sat in with him. We got onstage one night and we did a bunch of Cream songs and called the band Sour Cream. Because we didn't do them all that good.
Lee Roy's a joy to work with. It's been great so far, but he has his own agenda. He has his own band and his own gigs and the label (Universal) obviously wants him to go on the road and support his album. So we're just trying to figure out the timing on this CRS thing.
The way I'm looking at it, and I think the way everybody else is looking at it, from the middle of May to the end of June, let's open ourselves up for booking.