Origin: Harlem, New York and Los Angeles, California
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Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’ are a combined powerhouse of blues n soul that rock your roll! Let’s take a look and listen one at a time.
Taj’s real birth name is Henry Saint Clair Fredericks, born May 17, 1942 in Harlem, New York, and uses the stage name Taj Mahal. He‘s an American blues musician and often incorporates elements of world music into his works. A self-taught singer-songwriter and film composer who plays the guitar, piano, banjo and harmonica, among many other instruments.
Taj Mahal’s career spans 26 studio albums, scores of awards over nearly 50-years as a blues musician and performer. In the 60’s and 70’s, Mahal worked with Ry Cooder, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Muddy Waters and the Rolling Stones.
He relocated to Hawaii in 1981 and started the Hula Blues Band. By the time the 1990’s rolled around, Taj’s career was on the upswing, releasing a record with Eric Clapton and Etta James. A collaborative effort with Cyndi Lauper, Joan Osborne, Garth Hudson, Levon Helm and others resulted in an album titled “Largo.”
In 1997 he won Best Contemporary Blues Album for Señor Blues at the Grammy Awards, followed by another Grammy for Shoutin’ in Key in 2000. In 2014, Taj Mahal received the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement award.
Another largely self-taught musician is Keb’ Mo’ and since his self-titled debut in 1994, the blues guitarist born Kevin Moore in Los Angeles, has been one of the most successful musicians in the genre. By age 21, he enlisted for a tour with Papa John Creach. As a result, Moore played on three of Creach’s albums and opened for jazz and rock artists such as the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Jefferson Starship, and Loggins & Messina.
Keb’s records in the 90’s won Grammys and widespread respect for his country blues style and exploration of rock based music forms. He began releasing albums on his own label in 2011, Yolabelle International. The first was titled The Reflection and peaked at two on Billboard’s Top Blues Albums chart and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Blues Album.
His 2014 effort is BLUESAmericana, and a live set was recorded during the tour, titled That Hot Pink Blues Album, and dropped 2016.
Taj-Mo and Tour
Scheduled for release May 5th on Concord Records, TajMo combines the unique styles of the two singers and guitarists who have known each other for decades. Taj was instrumental in Keb obtaining his first record deal when he was still known as Kevin Moore and the two have worked together in concert but never collaborated in the studio.
Keb said of working with Taj “He’s a stellar human being, just a brilliant man. Making this record was a really big deal for me.”
Taj said “Keb’s really good at keeping the ball up in the air. He’s a hell of a guitar player, and I’m just amazed at some of the stuff that he put out there.”
The two artists self produced the new set and recorded at Nashville’s Stu Stu Studio. Guests include Bonnie Raitt, Joe Walsh, Sheila E. and Lizz Wright.
Starting May 30, the two will hit the road with their band for a 38-date tour that runs through mid-October. The artist presales are going on now with general ticket sales opening on Friday, March 17. More information and tour info, Vintage Vinyl News.