STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
What: Keb’ Mo’ in concert with special guest Gerald Albright.
When: 7 p.m. April 2.
Where: DoubleTree by Hilton Reading Grand Ballroom, 701 Penn St., Reading.
Tickets: $52 (reserved seating).
Info.: Visit www.berksjazzfest.com or call (610) 898-7200.
He hasn’t gone by his given name of Kevin Moore in more than 20 years.
Just as most people don’t call him Kevin any more, he dearly wishes that writers would quit asking him about his portrayal of the legendary title character in the 1998 documentary “Can’t You Hear the Wind Howl? The Life & Music of Robert Johnson.” CLICK HERE FOR A QUICK LOOK AT THE BERKS JAZZ FEST
“I don’t talk about it any more,” he laughs. Although he did take a one-month acting course back in the ‘70s, the three-time Grammy winner has too high of a respect for the acting craft to talk about what he did for “Can’t You Hear the Wind Howl?” as acting. “Robert De Niro is an actor, Denzel Washington is an actor, Meryl Streep is an actor,” he said with reverence.
“They were in the right now, being themselves,” the singer/guitarist/songwriter said of famous blues singers Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. “I’m (also) very much in the present. I like the now; I wanna be in my own time.”
In the now, Keb’ Mo’s “I See Love” is the theme song of CBS’ “Mike & Molly,” starring Melissa McCarthy and Mark Roberts. But when it came to recording additional music for “Mike & Molly” — what’s referred to in the industry as the bumpers and cue music — “even though I found it was a good gig, it took up too much of my time,” he said. “That’s a nine-to-five job; you have to be available.”
And given his druthers, Keb’ Mo’ would rather be performing on stage, as evidenced in the joy present in his new double-live “The Hot Pink Blues Album.” “I never did a whole live record … this is long overdue,” he said, describing it as an ideal, “live best of” introduction to his catalogue and the Keb’ Mo’ concert experience.
He takes the stage, with special guest Gerald Albright, at 7 p.m. April 2 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Reading Grand Ballroom, as part of the 2016 Berks Jazz Fest.
Keb’ Mo’s Best Contemporary Blues Album Grammys came in 1997, 1999 and 2005. He also can claim a partial Best Country Album Grammy credit as a performer/producer/engineer for his contribution of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” to “Timeless: Hank Williams Tribute.” In 2001, he was nominated for Best Children’s Album for “Big Wide Grin.”
“I’m a big fan of music. It’s all notes — the same 12 notes,” he said, referring to the chromatic scale.
“I used to take my car apart, as a kid, because I wanted to know how it worked. I wanted to know where the oil was … and to see if I could put it back together,” he said, using auto mechanics as a metaphor for songcraft. He also relishes being part of the “Experience Hendrix” tour, swapping guitar tricks and secrets off stage with the likes of Eric Johnson, Zakk Wylde, Dweezil Zappa and Jonny Lang.
A member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, Keb’ Mo’ shared that his favorite part of being in the White House for last year’s “Celebration of American Creativity” concerts was meeting, and hanging out with, former First Daughter Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, Carol Burnett, James Taylor, MC Lyte and Queen Latifah.
When he’s not writing, producing or performing, Keb’ Mo’ most enjoys being with his family. “I go out with my kids and we do silly things,” he said.
Keb’ Mo’ will return to the area May 20 for a show at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside.