“If the blues disappears, then it’s supposed to,” said Keb’ Mo’, the stage name of blues innovator Kevin Moore, speaking to us via phone last week. “I know a lot of people are [worried], though.” Moore is a lover of all music, as his 2011 R&B record The Reflection proves, but he isn’t worried, because the music in and of itself isn’t really the point anymore. “It’s for the people,” said Moore. “It tells people’s stories — from Appalachia all the way down to the Louisiana Delta.”
Working as a professional musician for nearly half a century, Moore has learned firsthand how music can inspire and relate to an audience. “These songs are about people who are trying to better themselves. It’s about keeping your mind on prosperity.”
No matter your current ailment — heartache, failure, tragedy, or sickness — the blues has always had imparted a sense of empathy. With his latest, BLUESAmericana, Moore sought to focus the songs on subjects that speak to everyday worries — things like regret, pride, and romantic complexities.
Musically, BLUESAmericana seems an appropriate product from an artist in Keb’ Mo’s position, both in terms of his career and within the culture. It may lack the unrefined, gritty edge that we tend to associate with the blues, but that doesn’t make it any less earnest. In fact, it’s that permeating sincerity that tends to carry over from the project’s original concept: an intimate, acoustic, man-and-his-guitar record.
“I much prefer collaborating,” says Moore, when I ask whether he anticipated drifting so far from his original goal. “I didn’t used to like to drive, but now I only like to drive,” he went on, adding that he’s as confident musically now as he ever has been. “I just rather work around other people.”
It seems that it’s always been about the people for Moore. He’s the three-time Grammy winner who’s working harder than ever to make something for us to live with.
Keb’ Mo’ headlines the Lobero Theatre (33 E. Canon Perdido St.) on Tuesday, May 13, at 8 p.m. Call (805) 963-0761 or visit lobero.com for tickets and info.