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Keb’ Mo’ Brings Blues, Larry Carlton to Suburbia: Review

Keb' Mo' during the Robert Johnson At 100 Centennial in 2012. He performs tonight in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and at Westhampton Beach tomorrow. Photographer: Jason Kempin/Getty Images
Keb' Mo' during the Robert Johnson At 100 Centennial in 2012. He performs tonight in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and at Westhampton Beach tomorrow. Photographer: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

April 26 (Bloomberg) -- Grammy Award-winning blues guitarist Keb’ Mo’ brought the sound of the Mississippi Delta to the Hudson River Valley last night.

At the Tarrytown Music Hall 25 miles north of Manhattan, the man born Kevin Moore in Los Angeles played rootsy material with a twist.

If Lead Belly had been forced to eat cold pizza at his son’s wild arcade birthday party, he might have sounded something like “Perpetual Blues Machine,” which had the audience laughing with its overdue bills and marital boredom.

“Suitcase” was the evening’s highlight. It’s an endearing love story in the vein of Rupert Holmes’s “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)”: “I met a girl, fell in love/Ooh our love was true/Well and I found out, Lord,/She had a big old suitcase too.”

Moore joked that his songs come from marrying 16 times. In reality, it was three times. That was still too many for the musician.

“Nothing challenges you more,” said Moore, 61, in a phone interview earlier yesterday; he uses his real name in conversation. Marriage “is just so interconnected. You begin to lose your identity, and then the whole relationship becomes the struggle of getting yourself back.”

Moore’s recording and performance collaborations go back to Jefferson Airplane in the 1970s and continue through Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt and many others. Martin Scorsese selected him to play on his 2003 PBS documentary “The Blues.”

Carlton Harmonies

In Tarrytown, Moore was joined onstage by guitarist Larry Carlton, bringing the total number of Grammys represented to seven. Their first duet was “Closer,” a charming song replete with elegant guitar weaving and harmonies.

Carlton also sat in for “The Whole Enchilada,” a soulful tune with a culinary metaphor for a husband who vows to recommit.

The first two encores were crowd-clapping singalongs: “She Just Wants to Dance” and a slow, stripped-down version of the Don Henley hit “Gimme What You Got.”

The true closer was his take on Robert Johnson’s 1937 classic “Love in Vain.”

Keb’ Mo’ has two more New York-area dates: tonight in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and tomorrow in Westhampton Beach, New York. Then he moves south for mainly shows in Tennessee in May and June.

(Sarah Grant works for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)

Muse highlights include Zinta Lundorg on weekend events.

To contact the writer of this column: Sarah Grant in New York at Sgrant43@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff in New York at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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