Photo: La Jolla Music Society
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.