Sunday, March 6, 2016

Touched by the Blues: Keb Mo Style

Late Wednesday afternoon I read online that Keb Mo (Kevin Moore) was playing Friday night at the Balboa Theater in San Diego. Fast, I checked with Ticketmaster and Dan, and purchased two seats for what promised to be our birth of the blues with Keb Mo, who is celebrating his twelfth full-length album and the twentieth anniversary of a musical career he launched as Keb Mo. Last summer, before a trip to Memphis and Nashville, I discovered the Blues Americana album on his website. On his home page was a YouTube video in which he played the guitar and sang a song from the album: "Old Me Better" with the California Feetwarmers. Instant infatuation took over. I was hooked on this singer/songwriter musician. Click here to see what I mean: Old Me Better

Photo: La Jolla Music Society

"I like taking it slow," the tall Los Angeles native in a casual suit and hat said in his low velvet voice. That was near the beginning of the show, which lasted nearly two hours straight. The tempo picked up as the night settled in. Half a dozen small square panels, each with a grid of bulbs, hung from the lower back wall of the stage to flicker and switch night club colors with each song. Newbies to a Keb Mo concert, we didn't know what to expect, but the easy-going style of this seasoned performer lulled us into blues euphoria. The music matches the man, a treasure to behold, with three Grammys and assorted awards for further proof.

Slower numbers dominated the first half of the show as he twirled on a low stool for guitar changes on the bare bones stage, except for additional instruments and equipment. Faster tempos picked up the speed for the second half as Keb Mo stood. The three musicians who complete his four-man ensemble joined him. At one point early on, he smiled and said, "now we're getting into my personal stuff." What you quickly learn about the artist is that he writes and sings about everyday life as he experiences and observes it -- relationships, people, challenges, and pursuits. When asked in an interview about his mix of blues with other genres, he explained that he only has two genres -- "what I like and what I don't like." He adapts whatever musical style works for the lyrics and melody. The storytelling comes from an authentic, honest place, which he shares in the introductions to lyrics printed for the Blues Americana album. The playful humor is irresistible in his songs and comes across in the asides to a grateful audience. His BIO describes Keb Mo's unique style and popularity best: his combination of masterful, anecdotal writing skills, distinctive guitar versatility and rich, resonant blues-soaked vocals are a testament to his longevity as a singer/writer.

Older songs in the Friday night program included (in no particular order):

"More Than One Way Home," about the people and places he knew growing up in Compton, California.

"She Just Wants to Dance," about a girl whose moves are for the music, not for hanky panky.

"Shave Yo Legs," about a guy who wants the girl to be herself, wild and free, not wear makeup or read the magazines (you already know how to get to me), and you don't need to shave yo legs for me. This song drew plenty of giggles from the sellout crowd.

"One Friend," about the need for that one person who stands by you and never lets you down.

"Suitcase," about baggage and complaints in a marriage, being shown the door, and begging to stay.

Newer songs from the "Blues Americana" album included: 

"Old Me Better:" about the humorous yearning for life before commitments to marriage and family.

"The Worst Is Yet to Come," about sticking with marriage when things get hard, and understanding the meaning of the words you heard at the wedding -- "for better or worse."

"Somebody Hurt You," reassuring the girl that she's been through a lot, but those hardships are behind her, she can let them go, because the guy's there to protect her now.

"So Long Goodbye," about the end of a relationship and the regrets that go with it.

The performance wound down with an encore of still more numbers, and closed with Keb Mo's rendition of "God Bless America," followed by the audience singing the traditional version to the accompaniment of the band. A fitting end to a thrilling concert that showcased the considerable talents of a gifted performer.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Providing for Pets of the Homeless

By Bailey Weber (Guest)

For my whole life, I've had a great passion for helping animals that are neglected or abandoned. Since this is my senior year in high school, I'm finally getting a chance to do something about it. I discovered the perfect service project and couldn't pass up this opportunity. I hope you'll join me in this effort, if not now, at some point in the future. 
By working with "My Dog Eats First," I've gained new awareness about a serious problem in our local area and around the country. I've learned that there's a lack of food and supplies to provide for animals, particularly the pets of homeless people. The mission of "My Dog Eats First" is stated on their website: 

Our mission is to provide pet food, supplies, basic vaccinations, and spay/neuter services for the pets of the homeless and underserved within our community. We provide this support in a judgement-free environment for individuals and families who are committed to the health and wellness of their pets and desire to keep them. In doing so, we believe we are:
  • Keeping the homeless united with what in most cases is the only living thing that provides  them with companionship, protection and unconditional love;
  • Reducing the amount of healthy pets surrendered to shelters because of financial burden; and
  • Saving healthy pets from unnecessary euthanasia by keeping them with their families.
I'm teaming up with this organization which works hand-in-hand with other nonprofit groups, volunteering in the community wherever they're needed to provide free pet food, supplies, veterinary care, and spay/neuter services without judgement.

For some, these animals are the only companions they may have. My goal is to gather enough items to help both this organization and the families and pets that benefit.
If you live in the Louisville area, 
you can help me by collecting some of the items needed by March 6. 
If you have any of these items and you no longer need or want them, 

Supplies that the "My Dog Eats First" often needs:
  • Dog/Cat Food – Wet and Dry
  • Heavy Duty Storage Bins (for their food bank, to keep the mice out)
  • Zip Lock Bags (1 or 2 Gallon and Sandwich Size Ziploc Bags)
  • Cat Litter
  • Animal Food Dishes & Water Bowls
  • Collars/Leashes & Harnesses of ALL sizes
  • Old Blankets
  • Toys
  • Treats
I am willing to pick up the items at your convenience. If you're a neighbor who lives nearby, feel free to drop them off on our porch. I've been amazed by the response so far. Many neighbors, friends, and co-workers of my parents have already contributed, so please join us in making this an even bigger success. If you're unable to contribute now, you can always contribute later by clicking on the organization's website:
If you live in other cities or states, google your area to find a pet delivery location that is serving homeless populations.

          Note: I will be accepting items until March 6th 
For each item donated, your name will be placed into a drawing for a chance to win one of two $50 Visa Gift Cards. 
Thank you to those who are able to help me help these pets.
Bailey Weber: