Music Where Your Heart Lives: The Mighty Keb' Mo' Headed Toward BergenPAC

Keb' Mo' is peaking once more.

Keb' Mo' performs with his band at the Charleston Music Hall last month.
Keb' Mo' performs with his band at the Charleston Music Hall last month. Photo Credit: Jerry DeMarco

Playing with a stellar backing trio -- a nimble-fingered keyboardist and a rhythm section tighter than a clam -- he's shredding again, picking deftly again, melding sexy blues, bounce, swing and just-plain-funky licks with that sweet-sweet roots music that hits that warm spot where your heart lives.

And he's bringing it all back to BergenPAC in Englewood on June 16.

It's always a party with Kevin Roosevelt Moore, but his latest tour is much more. The setlist sequencing is superb (even when he goes rogue) and his soulful combo is equally effective in adding accents or showing out.

The man himself arises mightily when the moment calls for it, confidently tapping those exquisite chops, in command even when he flubs a line or two, enjoying himself to no end.

Mr. Mo is terrific as a solo performer, as strong in his early 70s as he's ever been. But when he's got support, especially of the caliber of this particular combo, he really lets loose, and his art is even more beautiful.

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Born and raised in Compton, Moore got his start working behind the scenes as a guitarist, songwriter, and arranger.

He broke out internationally with the release of his 1994 self-titled debut, then followed it with an even more seasoned sophomore package.

Moore has received five Grammy awards and 14 Blues Foundation Awards. He got a Lifetime Achievement in Performance award from the Americana Music Association in 2021.

He's in demand for most tribute shows and, since moving to Nashville, has popped up -- at times without notice -- at the Ryman Auditorium and other venues where some of the better-known performers play.

Keb' Mo' has collaborated on recordings and live dates with blues master Taj Mahal, performed with country stars Vince Gill, Willie Nelson and Bonnie Raitt and dueted with James Taylor on an exquisite version of Hank Williams's "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" during a special performance celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act at the White House in 2015.

His onstage collaboration has Moore playing more guitar again -- so much so that a good portion of the set goes by with only one number featuring the dobro. That soon changes, though, and then THAT SOUND rings clear and mournful through the room, as the spotlight's reflections dances through the theater.

What began with Robert Johnson and Elmore James -- and was later filtered through Taj Mahal and Buddy Guy -- has brought us a wondrous and wonderful, more-than-complete entertainer, a showman who's as good as (if not better than) those of his kind.

He's a figure akin in some ways to the man he describes in the transcendent "Henry":

"I can hear the Delta callin' / From the light of a distant star / I can see my future and I can feel my past / When Henry plays his steel guitar...."


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