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Reinventing the blues in Beaver Creek

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily
ALL |

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” The Vail Valley, with our Disney-esque resort towns, is all about the worry-free lifestyle.

So it’s interesting how we’ve embraced a genre that grew out of the sweat and heartache of the cotton fields in the Deep South.

Every time the blues wail into town, the sound always draws a formidable crowd.



Blues singer-songwriter Keb’ Mo’ returns to the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek Wednesday night, less than a year after selling out the venue.

“He has an amazing, rich, deep, blues sound, and his blues guitar chops place him at the top of the genre,” Vilar marketing manager Sarah Dixon said.



Keb’ Mo’ (slang for his real name, Kevin Moore) grew up in Los Angeles, a world away from the blues’ rural origins. But his family had roots in the South and he was exposed to blues and gospel music at a young age.

Inspired by blues legend Robert Johnson, Keb’ Mo’ has cobbled together a unique sound that borrows from pop, rock folk and jazz.

His breakthrough album, “Keb’ Mo'” burst on the scene in 1994 with a focus on “acoustic, country-style blues and gospel,” according to “Putumayo Presents the Blues.”



He has since picked up Grammy awards for “Just Like You,” “Slow Down” and “Keep It Simple.” Most recently, Moore plays a blues musician in “Honeydripper,” a film scheduled for wide release in February.

Edwards resident Tricia Swenson said she saw Moore in concert when he first arrived on the scene in 1999.

“It was just neat to see someone of his caliber at the Vilar and then hear him kind of exploding all over the radio,” she said.

When Swenson saw Keb’ Mo’ on the lineup at the Vilar this year, she thought, “This is definitely a must-go-to show.” Swenson wants to see how the guitarists’ music has evolved.

“It’s just really kind of mellow,” she said of his sound. “It’s a nice, easy listening kind of music. He has a really powerful, low voice.”

Keb’ Mo’s personal manager, John Boncimino, said the upcoming performance is not part of a larger tour. It will be a solo performance with songs from Keb’ Mo’s entire catalogue, he said.

Tom Robbins, owner of Eagle Valley Music in West Vail, said he’s overheard some buzz about the upcoming concert.

“I’ve heard people say, ‘Oh, Keb’ Mo’s coming and be very excited about it and they’ll talk to their friend and their friend will be like, ‘Who’s Keb’ Mo’?'” Robbins said. “Just last year, I had some people here that were here from England and they didn’t know Keb’ Mo’ ” this was actually like two years go ” and they bought three of them (his albums), and they came back last year and bought the other three. They were really into it.”

Robbins cites Moore’s early works as his favorite.

“I like the earlier stuff more than the newer stuff because it’s a little less polished and more bluesy,” he said.


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