Keb' Mo'
@ The Fine Line, September 17, 1996

I've been waiting for the past 2 years to see Keb' Mo' in concert. Ever since I first heard his self titled CD I couldn't wait until he played the Twin Cities. Unfortunately I was out of town in July when he opened for Taj Mahal at the Guthrie so I was very pleased when he was booked for the Fine Line. His show was everything I expected and the sell out audience was equally rewarded with one of those rare gems of a performance.

The evening started off with an unexpected surprise. Singer Jonell Moser opened the show and literally blew everyone away with her extraordinarily powerful voice. She is one of those exceptionally talented vocalists that grabs you from the very first note. Along with her partner, guitar player Tom Britt, Moser demonstrated a superb mastery of her voice with songs from Robert Johnson to Sam Cooke as well as some very good self penned material. It won't be long before she returns headlining her own show.

Keb' Mo's performance, lasting 2 hours, was one of the finest displays of warmth, stage presence, distinctive voice and acoustic blues guitar that this area has seen in a long time. He has an engaging humor and stage presence that the audience identified with immediately. He apologized for not having a band with him, but he sure didn't need one. He had his foot tapping on an amplified wooden plank that provided the rhythm section while he played multiple guitars and harmonica. To the total delight of the audience, I think he played every song from his two Okeh CD's (Keb' Mo', 1994 and Just Like You, 1996). Including two of my favorites Tell Everybody I Know and Angelina. Towards the end of his show he stood up and said that if he didn't play this next song the ladies in the audience will be mad at him -- then he launched into the jaunty She Just Wants to Dance played on his national guitar.

As an introduction to his song You Can Love Yourself he talked about the "harsh environment" he was under when he wrote the song. He said he was sitting on the beach in Hawaii with the burning sun beating down on his head and the thunderous waves crashing in on him and he felt soooo bad.

Keb' Mo' (Kevin Moore) has been playing different types of music in the L.A. area for years including a stint with Jefferson Starship. It wasn't until he was offered a part in a local theater production of "Rabbit Foot" that he had to learn the part of a Delta blues (Robert Johnson-like) guitar player that he really discovered traditional blues. Four years later, after immersing himself in the traditional blues style, he won the Handy award in 1995 for Best Acoustic Blues album of the year. Lucky for us he was offered that role which led to this great music.

For the finale he had Jonell Moser back up and they did a great version of America, swapping and making up verses with the audience joining in (one member of the audience was given the microphone and sang a soulful verse that tore up the place). What a great show! What a great time we all had! Thank you Keb' Mo' for a wonderful evening of acoustic blues.

Copyright 1997 by Ray M. Stiles. All rights reserved. All reviews are copyright protected. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, or any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.