The nonprofit AT&T Performing Arts Center and AEG Presents announced today that tickets for Taj Mahal/Keb’ Mo’ will go on sale Friday, March 17th at 10am. Grammy award-winning American blues musician, Taj Mahal and three-time Grammy winner and visionary roots-music storyteller, Keb’ Mo’ will perform for one night only at 8:00pm, Wednesday, September 20th at Strauss Square in the downtown Dallas Arts District.
Center Members get access to the best available seats. Call Membership Services at 214-978-2888 or go to www.attpac.org/support to join. Center Membership presale begins Monday, March 13th at 10am.
Ticket prices for the Taj Mahal/Keb’ Mo’ range from $85 to $39.75 and can be purchased, beginning March 17th at 10am, online at www.attpac.org, by phone at 214-880-0202 or in person at the AT&T Performing Arts Center Winspear Opera House Box Office at 2403 Flora Street. The Box Office will be open 10am – 6pm seven days a week and before performances.
In September 2014, some 50 years after moving to Los Angeles to form the band Rising Sons with fellow blues musician Ry Cooder and Jessie Lee Kincaid, Taj Mahal hightailed it to Nashville to receive an honor he called “one of the most powerful and wonderful things that could ever happen in my life.” Celebrating decades of recording and touring that have nearly singlehandedly reshaped the definition and scope of the blues via the infusion of exotic sounds from the Caribbean, Africa, and South Pacific, the two-time Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, film composer, guitarist, and multi-instrumentalist was feted with the Lifetime Achievement for Performance Award at the 13th Annual Americana Honors and Awards.
“I’ve been performing for over 50 years, and to be recognized for the road I’ve traveled means the world to me, says Mahal, who during the show performed “Statesboro Blues” – which he first recorded on his eponymous 1968 debut album – on dobro with a band that included Cooder and Don Was. “I could not have done this without the audience that has been so supportive of me throughout my musical journey. It was a fantastic night and I was thrilled to be there and celebrated among such other outstanding American musical treasures like Jackson Browne and Flaco Jimenez, whose music and talent I am a fan of. It certainly represented a diversity of musical styles and culture. That’s what I’m talking about essay help!”
The night at the legendary Ryman Auditorium capped another extraordinary year for Mahal, which began with a performance at the Gregg Allman Tribute Concert in Atlanta and included playing on the entire Blind Boys of Alabama Christmas album; performing as part of the Bonnaroo Superjam on a bill featuring Derek Trucks with Chaka Khan, Eric Krasno from Soulive, renowned R&B/blues session drummer James Gadson, David Hidalgo from Los Lobos and Susan Tedeschi; and playing and recording with Van Morrison in Dublin.
Since the release of 2008’s Maestro, his most recent studio recording which received a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album, Mahal has been busier than ever touring and recording at a whirlwind pace with old friends and fellow musical sojourners. 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 as performing a special opening solo set for Eric Clapton and Wynton Marsalis at Lincoln Center; Mahal also performed several songs with his two fellow legends. The concert was recorded and released as a CD and CD/DVD entitled “Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton Play The Blues – Live From Jazz 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 that included performances by everyone from Buddy Guy, Dweezil Zappa and Robby Krieger to Robert Randolph, Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Keb’ Mo’ and Living Colour. Energized anew after the Sony Legacy release of two collections celebrating the riches and rarities of his musical legacy – the two-disc set The Hidden Treasures of Mahal Mahal 1967-1973, featuring a full live 1970 concert from Royal Albert Hall, and The Complete Columbia Albums Collection box set, featuring all of his LPs from 1968-1976 – the bluesman enjoyed a wildly productive 2013.
That spring found Mahal singing and playing harmonica on “Further Down the Road” from Clapton’s Old Sock album, and performing as a featured guest at Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival at MSG (NYC) where over 30 of the world’s greatest guitarists played sidemen to each other over two nights. Mahal jammed with The Allman Brothers Band featuring David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos and in a special unplugged acoustic set with Keb’ Mo’.
That June marked the release of the all-star soundtrack album to “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County,” a supernatural blues n’ roots musical featuring music and lyrics by John Mellencamp, a libretto by author Stephen King and production by T-Bone Burnett. Mahal appeared on “Home Again” with Sheryl Crow, Dave Alvin, and Phil Alvin, in addition to “Tear This Cabin Down” and “What Kind of Man Am I.” He later performed on “Vicksburg Blues” on actor/recording artist Hugh Laurie’s album Didn’t It Rain and a new rendition of his song “Winding Down” on the Sammy Hagar & Friends recording. He capped the year with “An Evening with Taj Mahal” at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.
Mahal’s career has been full of and defined by colorful twists and turns, unexpected whimsical ventures and a commitment to a muse that has long preferred freewheeling innovation to conformity. So there’s always the challenge of finding the right words and phrases to capture just what he’s meant to American music over the past half-century. Miles Mellough, who wrote the stark and honest, no holds barred liner notes for The Complete Columbia Albums Collection, captures the complexities perfectly on several posts he penned on his blog Birds with Broken Wings after the box set came out.
“Here’s the thing, plain and simple,” he writes. “Taj Mahal has always been a conundrum; a man who is capable of mirroring many things to many people, and the reason why is because he’s an enigma — an alchemist and a contrarian…Through his music, he’s been a dirt farmer, a man of gentry, and a Mississippi riverboat gambler. He’s played the role of the pious country preacher of old South camp meetings to a chain gang prisoner breaking rocks in the hot, midday sun. He’s been a hard-boiled harp player with a gold tooth and process blowing gritty on the South side of Chicago to a West Indies fishing boat captain sipping Banana Daiquiri’s with a St. Kitts woman…Like the blues tree with its many roots, Mahal has become the sum of many parts. But if you were to strip him of the elements that have come to define him publicly, you’d no doubt find that beneath it all he’s really just a simple man with a harp, a steel guitar, and a banjo in his rucksack; a man making music with a whole hell of a lot of heart and soul.”
In another post, Mellough ruminated on the global fusion approach Mahal has taken to the blues, which has caused its share of controversy: “While purists may have sometimes had issues with his unusual blend of acoustic blues mingled with the sweet sounds of Africa, the West Indies, and South Pacific Islands, I believe Mahal elevated the music form to an entirely new plane. By approaching the blues from a global perspective, Mahal presents it as part of a broader musical palette, a world canvas. Using traditional country blues as a starting place, Mahal perfumes the pot by mixing a spicy concoction of Afrocentric roots music, a blues gumbo kissed by reggae, Latin, R&B, Cajun, Caribbean rhythms, gospel, West African folk, jazz, calypso, and Hawaiian slack key. The savory dish he serves is both a satisfying and uplifting stew that actually transforms ‘singin’ the blues’ into something to be very happy about.”
When Keb’ Mo’ first was pitched the idea of releasing a double live album that captured the essence of his 2015 tour, he had a particular and unexpected instruction for his team:
“Make it Hot Pink!”
Indeed, that’s exactly what they did with Keb’ Mo’ LIVE.
It began as almost an afterthought and an assortment of concert gems “for the fans,” because his front of house engineer decided to hit “record” at the beginning of each show. It morphed into a noteworthy, carefully culled historical document highlighting Keb’ and his band during their 2015 run. Featuring 16 tracks captured in nine different cities, Keb’ is backed by keyboardist Michael B. Hicks, bassist Stan Sargeant, and drummer Casey Wasner, who also produced the record and received a 2015 Grammy nomination for Best Engineered Album – Non-Classical for BLUESAmericana. Recording, selecting and mixing the tracks for this project offered a depth of learning for Keb’, Wasner and sound engineer/mixer, Aaron Hedden – one that would have been unattainable solely through touring together. Immersing into the details of each performance provided valuable insight for all, offering educational glimpses of what worked successfully and what could be improved or changed during a live performance setting.
This double LIVE project represents a brilliantly chosen collection from the song catalog that has made Keb’ Mo’ an industry icon. His combination of masterful, anecdotal writing skills, distinctive guitar versatility, and rich, resonant, blues-soaked vocals are a testament to his longevity as a singer/writer. Playful moments with the audience, a signature of his live concert experience, are tastefully captured and his wit and depth shine most significantly just prior to the album’s final track, the hauntingly beautiful “City Boy.” Every song tells a story, and every story reminds us why Keb’ Mo’ is one of the most versatile and engaging musical raconteurs on today’s roots rock and blues scene.
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 a 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.
The Keb’ Mo’ Band Members:
Drummer/singer/writer/producer and multi-instrumentalist Casey Wasner is a self-taught musician whose passion for music led him from his native Minnesota to Nashville, where he honed his craft and connected with musicians who recognized his many talents both on stage and in the studio. He has been an integral part of the recording and production process for the last two Keb’ Mo’ releases, including the new live record.
Bassist Stan Sargeant, who got his start in Los Angeles, has supported an impressive list of musicians over the years, both live and in the studio. Bobby Caldwell, Peter White, Keiko Matsui, Dolly Parton, Mindi Abair, Leonard Cohen, David Benoit, Barry Manilow and Al Jarreau are just a few of the many names on Sargeant’s lengthy resume, and he also served as the in-house band bassist for The Howie Mandel Show and The Tonight Show.
Keyboardist/guitarist/singer/songwriter Michael B. Hicks is a staple on the Nashville funk and soul music scene and is a 5-time recipient of a Nashville Independent Music Award.