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Keb' Mo' and his blues return to Strathmore on Saturday

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Entertainment,Music,Marie Gullard

One jam-packed blues concert always deserves an encore, right? After the success of last year's Strathmore season-opener that teemed with the soulful sounds of the blues, guitarist Keb' Mo' revisits the D.C. area Saturday -- same time, same place. This year's concert, however, will run the gamut from jazz and soul to pop, gospel and beyond.

"There won't be any pyrotechnics, no dancers; no horn section, either. But we do have some songs," said the three-time Grammy Award winner describing this year's tour. "We just have some people who are really excited to come and play, and we hope everybody leaves happy."

Keb' Mo' fans know they will -- on both counts. Their blues man, formerly a pop guitarist, found his footing in this uniquely American brand of musical expression relatively recently. As a performer, Keb' Mo' (born Kevin Moore) enjoyed a good amount of success, but as blues man, he took off full speed ahead.

"It's the realness of it," he said. "For me, the blues is communication that's real ... It is what it is, [and] like folk music, it comes from the heart and the earth ... it's music that's woven into the fabric of our society."

Onstage
Keb' Mo'
Where: The Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Info: $25.50 to $58; 301-581-5100; strathmore.org

Also on the tour are Les Falconer on drums, Vail Johnson on bass guitar and Michael Hicks playing keyboards and organ. Music from his album "The Reflection" will play a prominent part in the show. This release encapsulates Keb' Mo's new artistic direction from the diverse influences of predisco R&B, American folk, gospel, rock, blues and more.

"I worked on this record for the better part of two years," said Keb' Mo', who has performed for President Obama ("That was cool, but I was a little nervous.") and on television in "The West Wing" and in Martin Scorsese's PBS special "Feel Like Going Home."

The reasons for his diligence were clear, as he continued, "I didn't want to let it go until I had something that I was proud to share with the public. It's the culmination of all my influences throughout my career."

And of his upcoming Saturday concert, he notes, "I'm comfortable at Strathmore -- the more people, the more comfortable."

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