Keb' Mo' tours Australia, including Bluesfest, April 2019.
Do you ever think about Australia as a particularly civilised nation? No? Me neither. Keb' Mo' does though.
“You know, we in America learn a lot about being civilised from Australia,” the Compton-born blues musician says. And it’s what he reckons that counts – just no one tell him about goon, please.
Suffice to say, the man is looking forward to visiting Australia where he’ll perform shows for his own solo tour as well as two days in Byron Bay for Bluesfest. Snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef will also feature on the agenda.
Kevin Roosevelt Moore has been performing under the moniker Keb’ Mo’ for the past 25 years. It is his rich, smoky voice coupled with the ability to weave engaging folk stories that has garnered him such a dedicated following of musicians and laymen alike.
It’s no surprise, therefore, that crowd favourite Keb’ Mo’ has been invited to join in celebrating Bluesfest’s 30th anniversary.
Kevin remembers his past excursion at Bluesfest, in 2012, fondly. He watched “John Butler Three” [sic] among other acts, and calls it “fantastic”.
“It was just amazing. Probably one of the best [festivals] I’ve been to.”
When asked what he makes of this year’s line-up, the Americana legend admits he doesn’t know who else is playing. He’s been too busy working on finishing two albums to take the time to look.
“I’ve been working on ‘She Love’ with another artist and one of my own albums. I’ve got to finish those before I get out the door and head down south.”
Kevin asks for a brief recap on who is headlining the festival. Paul Kelly draws a blank and Hozier gets a delayed acknowledgement. “Who’s that? Hozier? Oh, yeah, is he the guy that sings that 'Amen' song ['Take Me To Church']? Yeah, I like him. I think he’s good.”
Kevin comically explains his ignorance: “I live in the dark, dark ages, Madelaine.
“I live in my house and I never get out. I have no idea what’s going on in the world. I think in the age of information, with information being so important, the less I know, the better.
“I listen to my own intonations about how I’m feeling. I don’t want to know what’s cool or what’s hip.”
There is one artist, however, that Kevin readily recalls. “My favourite person to really pay attention to is Ed Sheeran. I like Ed Sheeran because I think he’s a classic artist – just so good and graceful, you know. And he’s got great songs.
“He’s a real guy. And he’s doing very well for himself. When I see someone like that that I really like doing so well, I like to pay attention to that person to tell me about everything that’s going on. You’re [at] the top of your game and doing authentic work – that’s very impressive.” No pressure, Ed.
Kevin appreciates authenticity in an artist, and it’s something that he tries to emulate himself. “The reality of any business is that you have to inform people and get the word out, really toot your own horn.
“I just want to show up and be oblivious to all that. I want to look the audience in the eye, play the songs, and do my best.
“Honestly, I’m happy to let my team put that stuff together. The less I know about that, the better. I don’t want to show up with an agenda. The people that work for me, that’s their job to have an agenda. I don’t want one. But it is a fine line.”
Kevin’s own album will be released “this summer” (Australia’s winter) after the tour. So although he won’t be promoting it during his shows, he says he may play a few tracks from it; as well as some older, less-played personal favourites. Look out for ‘Henry’, ‘Change’, and ‘I’m A Hero’.
‘I’m A Hero’ is a song Kevin loves, but admits to not playing as often as he should. “I wrote it with James Ingram – who just recently passed. People don’t ask for it though. It’s not a blues song. When I do play it, people go along with it, but, you know, they don’t actually ask for it.
“Oftentimes,” Kevin says, “my favourites are the songs in the background. I go out and play the popular songs so the audience gets what they want, but I also make sure I get what I want. It’s mutual.”
Keb' Mo' 2019 Tour Dates
Sat 13 Apr - Tanks Art Centre (Cairns) Mon 15 Apr - Melbourne Recital Centre (Melbourne) Tue 16 Apr - The Factory Theatre (Sydney) Wed 17 Apr - Lizotte’s Newcastle - sold out Sat 20 Apr - Bluesfest (Byron Bay) Mon 22 Apr - Bluesfest (Byron Bay)