Keb' Mo' keeps it bluesy
September 10, 2014
Paul Hyde, [email protected] 10:56 a.m. EDT September 10, 2014
After 12 albums and three Grammy awards, Keb’ Mo’ doesn’t have to tour as furiously as many singers and musicians these days.
The bluesman has even taken six months off at a time, although he still performs about 100 concerts a year.
“I like being at home, being with my friends and family,” he said. “I try to make sure I’m actually living a life — so that I have something to write about.”
Keb’ Mo’ comes to the Peace Center’s Concert Hall with his four-piece band on Tuesday. He’s touring on the strength of a new album, “BLUESAmericana.”
“I only make albums when I’m inspired to and these songs come from a very honest place,” the 62-year-old singer/guitarist, speaking from Louisville, Kentucky on a tour stop. “‘BLUESAmericana’ is the beginning of the next phase of who I am.”
Does the album, his 12th, mark a departure in any way from his past material?
“It’s not a departure,” Keb’ Mo’ said with a laugh. “I can’t depart from myself because I’m always myself.”
The album, at its core, is about love and understanding, Keb’ Mo’ said, and reflects a tough patch — successfully overcome — in his marriage with his wife Robbie.
“Do It Right” and “For Better Or Worse,” for instance, muse on devotion and marriage.
The thorny, comic “The Worse Is Yet To Come” is about hope, despite the humorous laundry list of pitfalls the song’s protagonist endures as he searches for a silver lining.
“Somebody Hurt You,” meanwhile, is “where the blues meets the church,” Keb’ Mo’ said.
“My first intention was to make a stripped-down acoustic album, just me and my guitar playing some songs,” he said. “But I couldn’t do it. I love ensembles so much.”
Actually, though, Keb’ Mo’ played most of the guitars on the album and several of the bass guitars, keyboards and percussion.
“I wanted everything on the album to be as pure a statement from me as possible,” he said. “Even when I called another musician to play a part, I had already recorded a template of what that part should be to guide them.”
His favorite number is the energetic “I’m Gonna Be Your Man,” a song that starts with a steel resonator guitar and powers through a bluesy refrain.
“It’s about chasing what you want,” he said. “I used to be the kind of guy who lived in fear of the ‘smack-down,’ but I’ve realized that it is very romantic to pursue a woman and be willing to accept rejection.”
It was in 1994 that Kevin Moore changed his name to Keb’ Mo’ and released his first album under that name. “Keb’ Mo’” earned gold-record status while his second album, “Just Like You,” won the Grammy Award for Contemporary Blues Album — a feat he has repeated twice since then with 1999’s “Slow Down” and 2005’s “Keep It Simple.”
“I never set out to be a ‘blues guy,’” Keb’ Mo’ said. “But the blues is very powerful and fuels what I do. The blues puts the realness in it for me.”
“BLUESAmericana,” released in April, has received raves from fans, Keb’ Mo’ said.
“I’m really happy about the way people are receiving it,” he said. “I just want to be entertaining. I want people to leave feeling like they had a good time.”
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YOU CAN GO
What: Keb’ Mo’ in concert
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Peace Center Concert Hall
Tickets: $35 to $45
Information: 864-467-3000 or www.peacecenter.org