In the expansive world of blues music, few musicians have managed to marry tradition with modernity as seamlessly as Keb’ Mo,’ who performed at the Noorda on Sept. 9.
Born Kevin Roosevelt Moore on October 3, 1951, in Los Angeles, California, he adopted the moniker “Keb’ Mo’” as a nod to his roots and as an emblem of his blues identity. Today, he stands as one of the torchbearers of the genre, infusing contemporary sounds while paying homage to the giants who came before him.
Keb’ Mo’s musical journey is as rich and varied as the history of blues itself. He began his career in the early 1970s, performing in various calypso and R&B bands.
However, it was in the ’90s that Keb’ Mo’ truly found his voice in the blues realm. His self-titled debut in 1994 was a masterclass in acoustic Delta blues, marking him as a key player in the modern blues scene. This album featured a refreshing mix of original songs and covers, showcasing his unique ability to reinterpret classics with a modern sensibility.
As the years progressed, so did Keb’ Mo’s acclaim. He won his first Grammy Award in 1997 for “Contemporary Blues Album” and has since garnered three more, reinforcing his place in the blues pantheon. His 1998 album, “Slow Down,” not only won him another Grammy but also spotlighted his songwriting prowess, addressing socio-political issues alongside personal narratives.
Collaborations have been a significant facet of Keb’ Mo’s illustrious career. He has worked with a bevy of legendary artists, including Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, and Buddy Guy, highlighting his versatility and respect among his peers.
His concert at the Noorda served as a significant tribute to the music of the Delta blues. It showed that after more than half a century of experience, his musical talents have matured like fine wine.
He opened with the hopeful song “Government Cheese,” in which a man promises his friends that he’ll find a job. It was a great opening, setting the tone for the rest of the performance. He performed other songs like “Am I Wrong?” and “I Remember You.”
He closed off the concert with the memorable piece “The Worst is Yet to Come,” which was quite the contrast of tone to the first song. The song portrays a man going through a barrage of trials, seeing no end in sight. Throughout the performance, each song was met with applause and cheers. The crowd was intensely engaged throughout the whole event.
Keb’ Mo’s performance was a tribute to blues, a music style that is forgotten by many, yet deserves a resurrection in today’s music culture. His talent showed not only his love for the art of music but also his passion for storytelling that blues inevitably brings.