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Interview:
Keb' Mo' Fits Bonnie Raitt Into His "Suitcase"
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

Working with Bonnie Raitt is as natural as breathing for singer-songwriter Keb’ Mo’.

The two have shared myriad bills, including the 2004 Vote For Change tour, before their current summer outing. Raitt also has contributed vocals to Mo’s Grammy-winning 1996 album “Just Like You” and to his eighth and latest album, “Suitcase.”

“I’ve followed Bonnie’s career since the ’70s, and I’ve always had an affi nity to her voice and her style and what she does,” says Mo’, 54, who was born Kevin Moore in Los Angeles’ Compton section. “I zone in on her on a real conscious level.

“And we just like the same music, too. We kind of grew up in the same era and in the same paradigm. We’re both from L.A., so we have a take on the blues that comes from there and then goes back further as we traced it. It’s a good fi t.”

Mo’ says “Suitcase,” the final album in his current recording contract, is “a really important record for me.” It in many ways brings him full circle in a career that’s included cover albums (“Peace: Back By Popular Demand”), solo blues outings (the Grammy-winning “Keep it Simple”) and children’s recordings (“Big Wide Grin”). Appropriately, he reunited with producer John Porter, who helmed Mo’s self-titled 1994 debut,

But Mo’ says “Suitcase” is anything but an updated version of that fi rst album.

“My first record was like, ‘This is what he is,’ and I wanted to explore a little more than that this time,” he explains. “I didn’t want to get caught into just being defined by my first record, so I stepped out and did some different things — choices maybe John wouldn’t have been able to get to or agree to.

“So I went out and got my experiences and came back around, and at the end of the day we just put it all back together and came to work from a while different vantage point, with better skills and a better way to communicate. It was very cool.”

Keb’ Mo’ performs with Bonnie Raitt at 8 p.m. Wednesday (July 12th)at Meadow Brook Music Festival on the campus of Oakland University, Rochester Hills. Tickets are $59.50 pavilion, $20 lawn; children under 12 can get a free lawn ticket when accompanied by

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