The blues as glue in Beaver Creek
BEAVER CREEK – Blues artist Keb’ Mo’ and modern pop icon Lady Gaga seem to have about as much in common as Adolf Hitler and Henry Kissinger, but Mo,’ who’s real name is Kevin Moore, said there’s no other musician he’d like to sit down and jam with right now.”I like her. I would want to get inside her brain because I think she’s really smart and really good at getting what she want,” Moore said.It may seem like a surprising statement from the guitar-picking master of the Delta blues, but it shows his desire to learn from all types of music and musicians to better his own craft.Moore returns to the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek Thursday and according to the theater’s Executive Director Kris Sabel, he’ll have the distinction of playing the venue more times than any other artist in its history. “That’s a great place. That’s a really great venue,” Moore said during a phone interview from L.A. earlier this week. “It’s this exclusive, tight little room. It’s really cool.”
Anyone going to the show can expect a stirring mixture of Delta blues, gospel, jazz and even folk rock. There’s almost no limit to Moore’s ability to bend and slide his guitar strings to produce a profound musical backdrop for the stories that he tells through his simple, yet meaningful, lyrics.”Keb’ is an incredibly talented guitarist and singer/songwriter,” Sabel said. “His music speaks to a wide demographic of fans. I’ve seen people in their 70s as turned on by his music as people in their early 20s.”Profoundly influenced by blues predeccessors like Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters, Moore keeps the raw power of the blues in his music yet sounds completely modern at the same time. “Somehow he manages to make the blues work – with him solo on acoustic guitar and with a voice more velvet than gravelly,” Sabel said. “In some ways he’s created a folk/blues environment on stage that really grabs the audience. This is the blues but it’s his version that pays tribute to Robert Johnson and others who came before him.”
So what does playing the blues mean to Moore?”It’s the glue that holds me together,” Moore said. “It’s something real and true and honest.”Whether he’s singing about loving another man’s woman over a slide guitar in “It Hurts Me Too,” or his love of the blues as a cowbell bops in “Muddy Water,” Mo’ brings the genre to life in a way that still feels relevent. But though he sings the blues, he said he doesn’t want to live the blues.”You don’t want to hold onto it … I don’t want to embody all that misery and all that pain. I don’t want that in my soul,” he said.
Instead Moore wants to pay his respect to the people who went through the hard times, paid the dues and who first sang the songs that showed us how to be honest through music. Moore said he feels joy when he plays and wants to tell a story that he and the audience can connect with.He’s got the Grammy Awards that prove his ability to connect with his fans. He’s won Grammys for Contemporary Blues Album in 1997, ’99 and 2005, as well as a handful of various other music awards. He’s got more than 10 albums under his belt, the latest being 2009’s “Live & Mo,'” but his live show is still what he’s still known best for.Moore is a clear modern link to the musical tradition of the blues and a window into the soul of music and its power to touch our hearts.