Keb’ Mo’ Band brings blues to Jorgensen cabaret

Award-winning singer, songwriter, guitarist and contemporary blues artist, Keb' Mo' performs to a packed house on cabaret night at the Jorgensen center for the performing arts on Friday, November 18, 2016.  (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

On Friday, Nov. 18, singer Keb’ Mo’ visited the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts to perform on the first day of UConn’s Thanksgiving break. Mo’ performed a variety of songs from his extensive catalogue, namely pulling from his double album “Keb’ Mo’ Live -That Hot Pink Blues Album.”

Keb’ Mo’ is a veteran of the music industry, drawing his style from countless genres including blues, jazz, funk, rock and country. One of his premiere talents has traditionally been storytelling. Mo’s tendency toward folk style lyrics that narrate soulful stories is a large part of what makes his style so interesting. He is able to do what many folk artists can’t, by attributing his eclectic funky and jazz-inspired melodies to his stories. Through this, he creates the duality of solid music with a resounding meaning behind it, if the listener so chooses to read into the lyrics.

When Mo’ visited Jorgensen last week, he was accompanied by his live band, who were possibly just as active as the leading performer himself. The instruments the crew played rotated out for a completely new one almost every song, without the artists seeming to be phased at all by the constant transitions. Not only were their instrumental talents versatile, their voices contributed greatly to the melody of Mo’s lead vocals as well.

“Keb’ Mo’ just has a particular sound that doesn’t come about too often,” Michael McGee, who was attending the show with his wife, said. “We see plenty of artists that have a wide variety of influence across genres, but Keb’ Mo’ does it in a way that really pulls those influences together, and delivers.”

“He makes the sort of music that is great to listen to at face value, as well as in depth,” Jacqueline May, another audience member, said. “It’s enjoyable at multiple frequencies, whatever part of the music you tune into.”

Mo’ performed a plethora of songs that all seem to mimic these sentiments of the crowd exactly. Songs such as “Suitcase,” which he performed, is perfect example of Keb’ Mo’s ability to blend traditional folk with his more soulful melodies. The assistance of the live band in jazzing up the tune heavily influenced the sound in the track. Songs like this one show the stark difference between a music recording and a live performance. Mo’ utilized the opportunity of the moment during his performance, in order to play a more revitalized and melodic version of the song that was already very instrumental and lyrical to begin with.

Another highlight of the night was in the performance of “Government Cheese,” a song based on an enjoyable melody, with a sometimes comical, yet very telling and serious narrative. This type of smooth dictation and even flow seems hard to dislike, as Mo’ talks about various life experiences through the easygoing lens of government provided cheese. The song says plenty in its time on stage, while also leaving plenty of room for interpretation for what the full message behind the lyrics might be.

The Jorgensen Theater has been providing class acts like Keb’ Mo’ since it’s opening in 1955, and has many more acts in store for the future. To view the upcoming performances at Jorgensen, visit jorgensen.uconn.edu/events.


Christopher Mueller is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.mueller@uconn.edu.