4

Keb' Mo' with Jontavious Willis at The Space at Westbury

Mike Perciaccante By

Sign in to view read count
Keb' Mo' with Jontavious Willis
The Space at Westbury
The Solo Tour
Westbury, NY
June 19, 2019

Keb' Mo' was born Kevin Roosevelt Moore to parents who were from California and Texas and fans of both the blues and gospel music. Their influences are readily apparent in his music. The four-time Grammy Award winner currently lives in the musical hotbed of Nashville, TN and has been described as "a living link to the seminal Delta blues that travelled up the Mississippi River and across the expanse of America." In addition to blues and gospel, the guitarist/singer/songwriter's musical style has been influenced by folk, rock, jazz, pop and country. The stage name "Keb' Mo'" is derived from the "street talk" abbreviation of his given name and was bestowed upon him by his original drummer, Quentin Dennard.

Keb' Mo' started his career playing the steel drums and upright bass in a calypso band. In the 1970s and 1980s, he played in a number of blues and backup bands. In the early 1970s he recorded with Papa John Creach of the Jefferson Airplane. As a guitarist, Moore appeared on four of Creach's albums: Filthy! (Grunt/RCA, 1972), Playing My Fiddle for You (Grunt/RCA, 1974), I'm The Fiddle Man (Buddah, 1975) and Rock Father (Buddah, 1976). Keb' Mo' received his first gold record for the song, "Git Fiddler," which he co-wrote with Creach for the Jefferson Starship's Red Octopus (Grunt, 1975) album. That album peaked at number one on the Billboard 200.

In 1994, Keb' Mo' released his self-titled album on Okeh Records. The album featured two Robert Johnson covers, "Come On In My Kitchen" and "Kind Hearted Woman Blues." In 1996, he released Just Like You (Epic Records). Just Like You featured twelve songs dripping with Delta influences. He won his first Grammy Award (Best Contemporary Blues Album) for this release. During his career, Keb' Mo' has been nominated for numerous Grammy Awards. He has won three additional Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album (including for the 2017 Concord Records release TajMo, a collaboration with Taj Mahal). He has also been nominated for seven other Grammy Awards. He has won W.C. Handy Awards and Blues Music Awards.

Keb' Mo' portrayed Robert Johnson in the documentary film, Can't You Hear The Wind Howl?, and the role of Possum in John Sayles' Honeydripper movie. On television, he appeared as an actor and as a performer on Touched By An Angel. In addition, he has appeared on television in Sessions at West 54th and in the Martin Scorsese miniseries The Blues. He also provided additional music for the sitcom Mike and Molly.

Jontavious Willis is a 23-year-old bluesman from Greenville, GA. He grew up singing gospel music with his grandfather at the Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church. At the age of 14, he saw a YouTube video of Muddy Waters playing "Hoochie Coochie Man" and immediately became a fan of the blues.

He got his big break when he was discovered by Taj Mahal, who described him as the "Wonderboy" and "the Wunderkind." He also got the coveted opening slot at select shows along the TajMo tour, which featured his musical mentors Taj Mahal and Keb' Mo.'

Willis' latest release, Spectacular Class (Kind of Blue Music, 2019), is the follow-up to his independently released debut album, Blue Metamorphosis (2016). Blue Metamorphosis was recognized by the Blues Foundation through their International Blues Challenge, where it was honored with the Best Self-Produced CD Award.

Spectacular Class was produced by Keb' Mo' and Taj Mahal is its Executive Producer. The CD features 10 tunes recorded with the utmost simplicity and care. Willis' vocals are spot-on and the arrangements featuring acoustic guitar, harmonica, Hammond B3, electric guitar, mandolin and banjo make this CD a must-have.

His musical oeuvre touches on country blues, acoustic blues, old-school blues, R&B, gospel and good old-fashioned Americana. His fans describe him as an old soul with a beautiful voice and a wonderful playing style. To paraphrase and somewhat mangle Jon Landau, I have seen the future of modern acoustic blues and his name is Jontavious Willis!

On a cool but pleasant Wednesday evening in Westbury, NY, Keb' Mo' and Jontavious Willis awakened and energized the sleepy suburb with an amazing evening of solo blues performances.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Aug23Fri
Keb' Mo'
Blue Note Hawaii
Honolulu, HI
Aug24Sat
Keb' Mo'
Blue Note Hawaii
Honolulu, HI
Aug25Sun
Keb' Mo'
Blue Note Hawaii
Honolulu, HI
Sep5Thu
Keb' Mo'
Granada Theater
Dallas, TX
Sep6Fri
Keb' Mo'
Granada Theater
Dallas, TX
Sep12Thu
Keb' Mo'
Pabst Theater
Milwaukee, WI
Sep13Fri
Keb' Mo'
Skokie Theatre
Skokie, IL

Related Articles

Read Montreux Jazz Festival 2019 Live Reviews
Montreux Jazz Festival 2019
By Martin McFie
July 18, 2019
Read Jazz At Juan 2019 Live Reviews
Jazz At Juan 2019
By Martin McFie
July 18, 2019
Read Summer Jazz and Fringe Jazz Fest 2019 Live Reviews
Summer Jazz and Fringe Jazz Fest 2019
By Jakob Baekgaard
July 17, 2019
Read North Sea Round Town 2019 Live Reviews
North Sea Round Town 2019
By Henning Bolte
July 17, 2019
Read Kiefer Sutherland at Irving Plaza Live Reviews
Kiefer Sutherland at Irving Plaza
By Mike Perciaccante
July 13, 2019
Read Dionne Warwick with Special Guest Darlene Love at NYCB Theatre at Westbury Live Reviews
Dionne Warwick with Special Guest Darlene Love at NYCB Theatre at Westbury
By Christine Connallon
July 13, 2019