Four-time Grammy award winner Keb’ Mo’ gave a masterful solo performance at The Birchmere recently. The opportunity to cover this show is one of the best treats thus far in my eight months with Parklife DC.
Dressed smartly in a white button shirt, dark jeans and vest, and a brown fedora, Keb’ sat center-stage on a vintage stool, surrounded by a myriad of acoustic, electric, and steel guitars — and a banjo thrown in for good measure.
With the confidence of someone who’s spent the better part of his 66 years of life on stage, Keb’ seized the intimacy of The Birchmere’s setting and engaged in jocular banter with several audience members, this photographer included.
After taking his photo from stage-right at the beginning of the performance, Keb’ quickly turned his head toward me with fake annoyance and asked, “Did you just take my picture?” I nodded yes. “Do I look good,” he asked? When I gave a thumbs up, he broke into a huge smile and said, “Cool!” To which the audience applauded.
At one point, between songs, a member of the audience shouted, “Play ‘More for Your Money,’” although the way the audience member pronounced it, it sounded more like, “Mo for Yo Money.”
Keb’ said, “I like the way you say that,” and he mimicked the audience member. He explained that he wrote that song in 2014 for his album, BLUESAmericana, and since then, “No one has ever requested to hear it, but we’re gonna play it right now.”
He sent his guitar tech backstage to get a big binder with the lyrics so he could refresh his memory and then announced, “Ladies and Gentlemen, one of my least requested songs, More for Your Money.”
As a bluesman now living in Nashville, the country music capital of the world, Keb’ joked, “I live in Nashville because it’s too cold in Chicago.” Keb’s musical style is steeped in the Delta blues, country blues, and Americana. Though born in Los Angeles, Keb’s parents were from Louisiana and Texas, and they reared him with strong infusions of Delta blues and gospel music.
Keb’ Mo’, born Kevin Roosevelt Moore, won his fourth Grammy Award earlier this year for TajMo, his collaborative album with legendary bluesman, Taj Mahal. The pair won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album.
Listen to TajMo by Keb’ Mo’ and Taj Mahal on Spotify:
More Than One Way Home
Life Is Beautiful
More for Your Money
Just Like You
Soon as I Get Paid
I’ll Be Your Waiter
Shave Yo Legs
The Worst Is Yet to Come
Old Me Better
Hand It Over
A Better Man
America the Beautiful
Check out some photos of Keb’ Mo’s solo performance at The Birchmere on Aug. 25. All images copyright and courtesy of Ari Strauss.