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Mo' Better Blues

Art imitates life in the music of Keb' Mo'

True artists keep shaping and reshaping their sounds. One could just imagine what would have happened to the Beatles had they decided to write only lovey-dovey, three-minute, sing-along pop songs. And even a folk/blues pioneer of the early half of this century such as Leadbelly challenged his form. Since Leadbelly craved superstardom, he got a chance to tour the South often. When he did, he picked up on various regional influences, which changed his sound. For the better. He was still Leadbelly, that ole Jimmy-crack-corn-and-I-don't-care crooner, but he was now a man who had been exposed to backwoods folk and bluegrass. He was no longer just Leadbelly, the artist. He was Leadbelly, the artist-slash-art-appreciator. The man's music was still authentic. If anything, he was a better Leadbelly. As music historian and critic A.L. Lloyd once wrote, authenticity is just a matter of style, anyway.

The point is, Mo' is going to keep tinkering with his sound. Whether it's a matter of taste or more money to throw around the studio, Mo' says, no matter what, he will keep on polishing and/or transforming the way he recounts his true stories. So don't be surprised ten years from now when Mo' starts rapping. He'll only be expressing the reality around him. Whatever that may be.

Keb' Mo' opens for Lyle Lovett Saturday, July 17, at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Drive. Call (713)629-3700 for tickets.

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