For a revered, three-time Grammy winner for Best Contemporary Blues Album, guitarist/songwriter Keb Mo really ain't that much about the blues. True, he came out of Compton playing gritty covers of Robert Johnson's country blues (from his 1994 self-titled debut LP), jammed with Albert Collins and Big Joe Turner and was a key contributor to the film and music series Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues, but Keb Mo's musical reach has always been broader, if nowhere near as deep, as the blues. His affinities lie with a clean, pristine mix of adult pop, light funk and mellow pre-disco soul. It's a musical universe as far from the Mississippi delta as it is from contemporary hip hop, nestling comfortably in a smooth '70s-era Steely Dan studio sheen. Keb Mo cut his teeth as an A&M staff songwriter, penning pop and old-school R&B, and his sensibilities have always been closer to Bill Withers than Howlin' Wolf. Still, he slings a mean National Steel guitar, perhaps raising expectations among blues purists that he never intended to meet. Keb Mo's oeuvre is an irony-free variation on late-'70s Doobie Brothers modus operandi, carefully arranged and impeccably played. It may lack fire in the belly, but that's the hand this guitar man chooses to play. With Chuck "The Charleyhorse" Johnson. Sold out. Dec. 8, 8 p.m. McGlohon Theater, 345 N. College St. 704-372-1000.
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