Grammy winner Keb' Mo' plans holiday show in Napa

  • Keb Mo

It's not surprising that Keb' Mo' is often seen as a modern bluesman. His breakout album, 1994's "Keb' Mo'," covered two songs by blues legend Robert Johnson.

"People always ask me questions about the blues like I'm some kind of expert. I'm not. I know some things about it, probably more than most people, but I'm by no means an expert," he said in a recent phone interview.

Mo', who plays Wednesday night at Napa's Uptown Theatre, feels as much kinship with singer-songwriters Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne as he does with B.B. King.

"My tradition is all over the map," he said. "You define yourself, but the public decides who they want you to be. They gotta find a category for you."

Mo', formerly Kevin Moore, has just released "The Reflection," his first studio album in five years.

The album would be completely at home on a smooth-jazz station, but it also gets airplay on eclectic rock stations like KRSH, which has been featuring Mo's song, "The Whole Enchilada."

Mo' said he used to go into the studio and play, then put his best stuff on the record. This time he was more focused.

"For this record I took myself to another place. I wanted to make a record that's really cohesive musically," he said. "I didn't want to make a raw record. I wanted to make a really sophisticated record, not one where I just went in there and played and whatever came out came out."

But Mo' doesn't feel the album lacks vitality. "You don't have to sacrifice spontaneity for planning. The two can work together," he said.

One of the highlights of the new record is a cover of the Eagles' "One of These Nights."

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