Taj Mahal + Keb’ Mo’ + The Hollywood Bowl = An Epic Evening of TajMo Living Blues Legends Taj Mahal & Keb Mo Bring Some Youthful Joy To Hollywood
LOS ANGELES, CA- Not all collaborations yield tasty fruit. Just google “bad musical collaborations” and you’re bound to end up going down a digital rabbit hole of “what did I just listen to?” video/audio clips. But sometimes collaboration is so natural … so meant to be … you wonder, “Why didn’t this happen sooner?”
Keb’ Mo’ and Taj Mahal have known each other for years, but it wasn’t until 2017 that they decided to join forces to record an album, TajMo. Not only was this collaboration a meeting of two living blues legends, but it was also the first time in almost a decade that Taj Mahal stepped into a studio. It’s an album that stuffs all life and playfulness that Taj (76) and Keb’ (66) have lived and experienced. Back by a full band for a tour in support of the “Best Contemporary Blues Album” GRAMMY Award, I was not about to miss out on an evening of these two legends performing together.
Taking the stage together at the Hollywood Bowl, I was treated to an evening of bluesy goodness that I can only hope to experience again in the future. It was a casual affair, loose and free-flowing. Taj Mahal, wearing his ubiquitous Hawaiian print shirt, though slow on his feet, was quick with his hands whether he was strumming blues riffs, shaking moroccos or playing his harmonica. Keb’ was a stoic blues statesman, standing more off to the side, almost as if he was paying (or playing) homage to his mentor.
I half expected the duo’s setlist to consist mostly of cuts from their album, but surprising they only performed three TajMo tracks (“Don’t Leave Me Here”, “That’s Who I Am” and “All Around The World”). Rather, a majority of their set was popular songs from each of their own personal repertoires … and I didn’t mind at all. To hear songs like “Government Cheese” (Keb’ Mo) and “Take A Giant Step”(Taj Mahal) performed by not only their originators but also with a legend in tow, I couldn’t have been more blessed to be there.
For a blues gig, Taj and Keb’s performance was as joyous as they come. With perma-grins stretched across both kings’ faces throughout the entire evening, it was a show that had plentiful shares of funk and soul and humor that surely had everyone in the crowd smiling as well. I sure had one of my face.