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Keb’ Mo’ on Tour: Playin’ It Twice Is Oh So Nice

Review by Holley Dey; Photography by Louise Uznanski and Richard Uznanski

“Whoa, you gotta hold something back!”  The audience had been told to offer thirty seconds of polite applause, followed by thirty seconds of moderate enthusiasm, and then to let it loose during the final thirty.  Instead they were on their feet early, whistling and hollering; there was no dampening this crowd’s enthusiasm.

It was all caught on tape.  When the special airs on Connecticut public television next summer, take note of the audience.  The recorded smiles and applause were real, and climbed to a new height when Keb’ Mo’ took the stage.  Mr. Moore looked surprised by his warm welcome, but quickly returned the favor with a broad smile, joking “I’m not wearing any make-up or underwear.”

Well, alrighty then!  Strip down, sit down; it was time to get down with Keb’ Mo’ and his band at Infinity Hall.  The music began, a mix of new and older songs, heavily weighted toward selections from the just released album, “The Reflection”.  To the delight of the audience, technical difficulties at the taping required that nearly every song be played twice during the two and one-half hour show.

Twice wasn’t enough.  The audience would gladly have stayed for more.  The same was true the following night at Tarrytown Music Hall, New York.  A two hour show including a multi song encore had the audience on their feet and dancing to the end.

Standout performances from both nights included The Whole Enchilada, the lead single from “The Reflection”, We Don’t Need It, also from “The Reflection”, Henry from 1998’s “Slow Down” and The Door from the 2000 album of the same name.

We Don’t Need It is a poignant song about job loss, sacrifice, and love.  This was one of the songs that required a redo at the September 12 Infinity Hall show, and Keb’ Mo’ paused for a long drink of water between takes; “This one gets me.”  The emotion was in his face and in his performance.  More than any vocal gymnastics, it was the phrasing and timing of his delivery that brought home the song’s message of family unity.

There is a sincerity and honesty to Keb’ Mo’ that is clear in his live performance, and that also shines through his recorded music.  The storylines often focus on love and romance, but the lyrics go deeper and to a more soulful place than is usual.  So tell me, now thatcha’ got her The whole cnchilada Now thatcha’ got her Whatcha’ gonna do Whatcha’ gonna do Are you gonna be Any better Than the man you had to be to get her.  Reinforced by a strong beat and the natural rhythm of the words, these songs flowed easily from the stage into the audience, enveloping both in a  shared musical contentment.

The performance of The Door concluded with brief vocal solos from three of the band members, keyboardist Michael B. Hicks, keyboard/guitar player Kevin So, and guitarist/mandolin/harmonica player Jeff Paris.  The audience’s collective jaws dropped.   When asked if the band members are also solo artists, Mr. Paris quipped “Oh yeah, we’re all rock stars”, but in fact each member of this band has a strong individual resume.  Jeff Paris, for example, is a recording artist with several albums to his credit who once sported the ‘fro to prove his rock cred.  Since 2000 he has played and recorded with Keb’ Mo’ and co-wrote the fan favorite Shave Yo’ Legs that appears on Moore’s album “Keep It Simple”.  Kevin So is a touring and recording folk artist, as well as songwriter.  Mr. So wrote Crush on You, found on Moore’s  new album “The Reflection”.

The multi instrument versatility of the members and their gentle harmonies contributed significantly to the band’s sound.  So did Keb’ Mo’s skilled guitar play, showcased on tunes including Henry and Am I Wrong when the dobro style guitar gleamed and sang in the spotlight.

Both the Infinity and Tarrytown Music Hall shows ended as they had begun, with the audience begging for Mo’.  Twice just wasn’t enough.

Gallery of photos from the Infinity Hall Show:

From left to right: Vail Johnson on bass, Les Falconer on drums, Keb’ Mo’, Michael B. Hicks on keys, Kevin So on keyboard

Jeff Paris on guitar, Vail Johnson on bass

Les Falconer on drums

Kevin So on keyboard

Rock star Jeff Paris

He just wanted to dance, and so did the audience. The next evening, Keb would do the “Dave Matthews”, a one footed hop and twirl.

Gallery of photos from Tarrytown Music Hall:

Keb’ Mo’ with Michael B. Hicks on keys

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For more on Keb’ Mo’, including tour dates: http://www.kebmo.com/site/

Visit Kevin So’s blog for daily updates on the Keb’ Mo’ fall tour, including photos and commentary: http://thatsexyasian.wordpress.com/

“Friend” Michael B. Hicks on Facebook for tour updates/photos as well: http://www.facebook.com/michaelbhicks

Read more about Jeff Paris here: http://www.hohner.eu/index.php5?2235

Les Falconer on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/les.falconer

Read more on Vail Johnson here: http://www.vailjohnson.net/

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Really enjoyed the review of Keb’s concert. I haven’t had a chance to see him play live yet. Photography is stunning as usual. 🙂

    September 15, 2011
  2. ontapblog #

    Thank you for reading, Tish! Looks like Keb’s fall tour only gets as far west as Arkansas. Hopefully, he’ll venture a little farther soon. I know you’d enjoy the show.

    September 15, 2011
  3. Linda T #

    This was a fantastic review and photo gallery. I was pleasantly surprised that Kevin So is the keyboardist — have heard some of his solo work and he is quite good! Fabulous photos really capture the essence of the shows — thanks!

    September 15, 2011
    • ontapblog #

      Thank you, Linda. Yes, we were floored when Kevin began to sing, and look forward to seeing him on a future solo tour. He’s a talented songwriter as well.

      September 15, 2011
  4. Great review! Keb is the best!!!

    September 16, 2011
    • ontapblog #

      Thanks, Michael! We really enjoyed both shows; you haven’t seen the last of us! Also looking forward to hearing more of your solo work.

      September 16, 2011
  5. Louise #

    Keb’ Mo’ has just been nominated for a Grammy in the R&B category for ‘The Reflection.’ And, his Christmas song ‘Shopping on Christmas Eve’ is one of the most played holiday songs on the radio! Congratulations to Keb’ and his band. Looking forward to the Grammy show!

    December 9, 2011

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