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Blues legend Keb’ Mo’ to perform in Hilo, Waimea


Tribune-Herald staff writer

Three-time Grammy winner Keb’ Mo’ will play a pair of solo Big Island concerts, on Wednesday at the University of Hawaii at Hilo Performing Arts Center and on Thursday at Waimea’s Kahilu Theatre. Showtimes both evenings are at 7 p.m.

The last time the bluesman formerly known as Kevin Moore appeared on the Big Island was in 2005, when he played shows at the Palace Theater in Hilo and Honokaa People’s Theater. He said his memory of the Big Island is “the rainy island with a lot of chickens.”

“When I got there it was so chill, I went to sleep right when I got there,” he said. “There’s this whole relaxed mood in Hawaii, and I felt like everything was gonna be OK. Who doesn’t like Hawaii? Once you go to Hawaii, you’re, like, spoiled rotten.”

Time on the Big Island and Maui — where’s he’s winding up his Hawaii tour with a show at the Castle Theater – will be at a premium but he said he’ll enjoy his time here, regardless.

“I’m looking forward to your cuisine,” he said. “I love the food there.”

Keb’ Mo’ said that he’s currently working on an album, his first since his Grammy-nominated “The Reflection” in 2011. He said it should be out “in the first quarter of next year.”

Most of his concerts this year have been solo, just the man and his guitar.

“When you play solo, you can play the songs that move you whenever you want,” he said. “When you play with a band, you’re more in a set pattern. And with a band, it’s louder, so it’s more like a party. When you play solo, it’s more of an intimate experience. There’s a connection.”

Keb’ Mo’ been also doing monthly Monday Blues Night shows at The Studio Gallery in Fontanel in Nashville, where the Chicago-born musician now lives. Some of Music City’s brightest luminaries drop by to perform with him, including country superstar Brad Paisley. He said he enjoys the jams.

“Country music and blues, I look at them as Southern folk music,” he said. “And their origins are basically the same place. They’re like a family separated by adversity, so to speak.”

Although he’s won three Grammys and numerous W.C. Handy Blues Awards, Keb’ Mo’ said the accolades are not the reason he’s a musician.

“The thrill is playing in front of an audience,” he said. “The Grammy or the Blues Award is nice but that happens only once in awhile. But playing in front of an audience is something you can do all the time, and it’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

Tickets for the Hilo show are $55 premium, $40 general and $35 students, available at the UHHPAC box office between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Call 974-7310. Tickets for the Kahilu show are $64, $54, $44 and $20. To purchase tickets or for information, visit

Email John Burnett at


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