TajMo’: The Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’ Band sees Blues titans Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’ share the stage with an all-star band for an exciting night of music, performing songs from their long-anticipated collaborative album coming Spring 2017 on Concord Records.
About Taj Mahal
Since the release of 2008’s Maestro, which received a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album, Mahal has been busier than ever touring and recording at a whirlwind pace. In 2010, after being nominated for Entertainer of the Year by the Blues Foundation, he joined Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night studio band The Roots as a special musical guest on the Rolling Stones classic “Shine a Light.” He also opened in Lake Tahoe for Bob Dylan. One of the highlights of the following year was performing a special opening solo set for Eric Clapton and Wynton Marsalis at Lincoln Center.
After starting 2012 producing and performing (vocals, guitar and banjo) on Vusi Mahlasela’s live album Say Africa, Mahal joined the critically acclaimed Experience Hendrix tour for a three week run. Later that year he released two collections celebrating the riches and rarities of his musical legacy – the two- disc set The Hidden Treasures of Mahal Mahal 1967-1973 and The Complete Columbia Albums Collection box set. He capped the year with “An Evening with Taj Mahal” at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.
Mahal (given name Henry St. Claire Fredericks, Jr.) grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts. His father was a jazz pianist, composer and arranger of Caribbean descent, who frequently hosted musicians from the Caribbean, Africa and the U.S. His mother was a schoolteacher and gospel singer from South Carolina. Henry, Sr., had an extensive record collection and a shortwave radio that brought sounds from across the world into their home. “We spoke several dialects in my house – Southern, Caribbean, African – and we heard dialects from eastern and western Europe,” Mahal said.
This diversity of Taj’s musical experiences served as the bedrock for his first three recordings: Taj Mahal (1967), The Natch’l Blues (1968) and Giant Step (1969). Drawing on the eclectic sounds and styles he’d absorbed in his youth, these early albums showed signs of the musical exploration that would become Mahal’s hallmark in the years to come. In the 1970s, Mahal released a string of adventurous recordings, including Happy To be Just Like I Am (1971), Recycling the Blues and Other Related Stuff (1972), the GRAMMY®-nominated soundtrack to the movie Sounder (1973), Mo’ Roots (1974), Music Fuh Ya (Music Para Tu) (1977) and Evolution (The Most Recent) (1978). The type of blues he was playing in the early 70s showed an aptitude for spicing the mix with exotic flavors that kept him from being an out-and-out mainstream genre performer.
About Keb’ Mo’
It all took off for Keb’ Mo’ in 1994 with the self-titled release under his newly coined “Keb’ Mo’” moniker, and he proved once and for all that he was a musical force to be reckoned with. Album after album, 11 in total, garnered him 3 Grammy awards and a producer/engineer/artist Grammy Certificate for his track on the 2001 Country Album of the Year, Hank Williams Tribute – Timeless. He has received 8 additional Grammy nominations including Country Song of the Year for “I Hope,” co-written with The Dixie Chicks, and 3 alone for his 2014 release, BLUESAmericana including Americana Album of the Year. Keb’ also has been awarded 11 Blues Foundation Awards and 6 BMI Awards, 5 of which are from his theme song for the hit television show, Mike and Molly. The list of artist collaborations comprises a veritable who’s who in the music industry and includes Bonnie Raitt, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Jackson Browne, Natalie Cole, Lyle Lovett, Melissa Manchester, Timothy B. Schmit, Marcus Miller and many more. His songs have been recorded by B.B. King, Joe Cocker, Buddy Guy, Solomon Burke, Robert Palmer and Zac Brown Band.Keb’ is humble and committed to paying it forward. He proudly has been a long-time supporter of the Playing For Change Foundation, a nonprofit organization that creates positive change through music and arts education, and 5% of the proceeds from sales of Keb’ Mo’ LIVE will benefit the foundation and its cause. PFCF provides free music education to over 1,000 children in 9 countries and has established 12 music schools around the world. But they even take it a step farther, working with partners to address basic needs in the communities where they teach, including providing education, clean water, food, medicines, clothing, books and school supplies, just to name a few. Over 16,000 children and community members have seen drastic quality of life improvements thanks to PFCF.Additionally, Keb’ is a newly appointed member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities as part of the Turnaround: Arts program, which focuses on elementary and middle schools. Each artist adopts a school in a low-income, underachieving area and becomes a mentor, working with teachers, students, parents and the community to help build a successful arts education program and to highlight the positive impact it will have on students. Keb’ serves as mentor at The Johnson School of Excellence in Chicago, Illinois.As a singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, producer, actor, mentor and consistently excellent performer, Keb’ Mo’ is a true American icon. He handles himself with grace and style as evidenced in this entire collection, from the unique “hot pink” album packaging to the feeling the music inspires while listening to it. For those who never had the experience of enjoying his live show, this is the next best thing. There is a smooth cadence that transports you to a simpler time in life, when a concert audience was respectful and the artist could interact with fans in a positive, engaging way. Without even realizing it, you will find yourself humming along, dancing and laughing as the true “slice of life” vibe shines through and catches you in a spellbound moment of aural euphoria. Because, after all, “Life is Beautiful,” truly.