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Love Blues: An interview with Keb’ Mo

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By Cameron Lord, for the Big SKy weekly

Big Sky Weekly columnist Cameron Lord sat down
with three-time Grammy Award winning musician
Keb’ Mo for an interview before his Sept. 2 headliner
performance presented by the Big Sky Arts Council.
The Nashville Blues artist philosophized about his
music, seeing beauty in everything, and about his
trademark fedora.
Big Sky Weekly: Your new album is a bit of an
evolution from your prior work. How do you think
you’ve evolved as a musician over the past few
Keb’ Mo: “Evolved” would indicate that I’ve done
something really different. Maybe “growth” is a
better word. Although I don’t think I’ve grown
very much lately. I’m just stretching out a bit. I’ve
really just gotten braver. I got more courage.
BSW: Some critics have commented that your latest
album is a bit softer, has less “edge.”
KM: “The Edge?” Isn’t he that guitar player for
U2 [laughs]. Seriously though, I just want my
music to feel good, you know?
BSW: Do you like touring?
KM: Yeah I like touring.
I like it all. I like recording,
touring, just hanging
out in the studio. I like
BSW: That’s not a bad
gig if you like it all.
KM: Not bad at all. It’s pretty good. When you
love doing what you’re doing, that’s a nice gig.
BSW: So have you performed with all of these
musicians before? Is this a new ensemble for you?
KM: We’ve already done a couple of runs in August
before this show, and we’ve all played together
at some point, either on stage or in the studio
back in Nashville. Our bass payer and organ player
are our newest folks.
BSW: And will you be playing mostly new stuff
on your tour? A mix?
KM: We’re playing some new things. Tonight
we’ll have four new things in the set list.
BSW: What’s it like getting back on the road after
spending two years in the
KM: Well, you gotta get
the lead out, you know
[laughs]. It’s pretty easy actually.
This time it was just
getting the band together,
rehearsal, getting the
people up on new songs,
up on the old songs. It can
be challenging sometimes.
BSW: What do like listening
to right now?
KM: I’ll probably listen
to anything. It’s not like
I’m listening to “this”
right now. Well, actually,
I started listening to the
new Robert Johnson reissue.
It’s really clean, really pristine. Also, Steve
Cropper’s got a new album out that I played on. I’m
listening to that. Coffeehouse on XM, that’s probably
what I listen to most, [laughs].
BSW: You all arrived yesterday afternoon, have
you had a chance to see or do anything here in Big
KM: Well, being on the road is work, not a vacation.
I just go to my room and start getting ready to
perform, start getting my ducks in a row.
Touring is not sightseeing. If I have a couple of
days off, I might go see something, but usually no.
BSW: What about back at home in Nashville? Do
you get outside there?
KM: I just go to my yard. I’m not very adventurous
– excitement is overrated, [laughs]. Where we
live is pretty nice, with the scenery and the trees,
but I’m that kind of guy, I see beauty everywhere.
A blade of grass, bugs crawling. There’s
beauty not just in special places, even though
there are special places, and some are more
breathtaking than others. There’s always something
to see, and I’ve seen some pretty spectacular
BSW: So do you always play wearing a fedora?
KM: Yeah, I guess I do. I’ve played with other
hats before. I’ve worn caps. One night in Seattle I
performed with no hat. A long time ago.
BSW: How’d it go?
KM: Scary. I wanted to see if I could do it. Everyone
was like, “Where’s Keb’ Mo?” They didn’t
see the hat.

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