Pictures and words by Duane Clawson
What a thrill it is to live in close proximity to a music-friendly town. That town is St. Louis. Every year, St. Louis hosts a series of free shows called Celebrate St. Louis Summer Concert Series. These concerts kicked off over the 4th of July holiday and continue for the next two weekends with concerts on Friday and Saturday. This year featured a variety of artists from Montgomery Gentry to Bare Naked Ladies. These concerts are intended to be held under the Arch with the Mississippi River providing a wavy backdrop for the music. This year, as in past years, the Mississippi River crept out of its banks and these concerts were moved to Soldier's Memorial Park. Nonetheless, it’s free music and the city does a great job of providing the artists and venues.
So, on an extremely hot and muggy Friday night I made my way in to the city to catch blues legend, Keb Mo. This was not going to be a sit, observe, and take a few pictures show. My wife, who has her sources, provided us with backstage and VIP seating passes. The backstage area is a platform on the side of the stage which allows a different viewing and listening perspective of these shows. Kevin Moore (Keb Mo) has been playing music professionally since the early 1970’s. Keb is currently touring in support of his new CD “The Reflection”, some of the smoothest blues you will ever hear. Keb has California roots and this album is a perfect expression of laid-back California meets the blues. Keb has an excellent cast of backing musicians who are required to compliment Keb’s stellar guitar playing. Keb while onstage changes guitars for virtually every song. I was lucky enough to snag a setlist from a passing guitar tech and for each song the guitar that is to be used is listed beside the song. The tech explained that they were a fresh crew and still learning the system.
The band opened with a cover of the Eagles “One of These Nights” and if you think the Eagles version is smooth, Keb takes his version down a freshly-paved musical highway. Keb Mo then ventured to the humorous side of the blues with a song that praises the virtues of “Government Cheese.” A line from the song declares, “when you make my macaroni, use that government cheese.” Up next were two songs that represented different aspects of the blues. “Muddy Water” is bluesy but in a CCR kind of way and “Perpetual Blues Machine” is more in touch with a Robert Johnson-style of blues. This song was featured in the PBS series Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues. The sixth song performed “France”, was another tongue-in-cheek song about a woman’s love of France and what a man goes through to give a woman what she wants. Some of the band’s best work came in the song “Shave Yo Leg”, which features Keb Mo playing a Galveston guitar the way it was meant to be played and a Hammond B3 organ providing a soothing, blues background. The blues shuffle, “She Just Wants to Dance”, led the band to a brief break in the music before a rousing seven-minute long encore. The band chose to close out the night with “Standing at the Station”, a guitar-heavy, foot-stomping, all-around good time blues song. If you have ever wanted to explore the blues of a Keb Mo show, this would provide a good place to start. I can’t thank the City of St. Louis enough for their planning and the thought that go into these concerts. They truly do make an attempt to have a little something for everyone. I would also like to thank our source , Stuart, for the backstage and VIP passes. For more on Keb Mo, please visit his website. Pictures and a video of the show are below:
Contributed by Duane Clawson
Keb Mo @ Soldier's Memorial Park, St. Louis Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on 10:21:00 PM Rating: