Keb’ Mo’ just naturally blends his many musical experiences into his modern-day blues.
“All those things are part of me,” he said recently. “That’s why they blend. That’s the blend of me. So it’s honest.”
Marking the 20th anniversary of his album debut this year, Keb’ Mo’, aka Kevin Moore, sounds completely comfortable in his own music skin throughout his 12th and latest album, “BLUESAmericana.” The album still sounds fresh to Moore, even though it’s seven months old.
“Usually, about two months after I release something,” Moore said ahead of his Tuesday show at the Varsity Theatre, “I’m like, ‘Oh, God! What was I thinking?’ Because your mind moves on from that moment. You think about what could you have done better. That’s a natural progression to your next project, which is a good thing.”
Moore’s musical history includes three Grammy-winning albums. Many artists on a 20th anniversary tour would survey their discographies. Not Moore.
“I’m moving ahead,” he said. “Move. Keep moving.”
Yet Moore isn’t ignoring his milestone.
“I’m not much for dates, but I do know that this is the 20th anniversary of the release of my first record,” he said. “I celebrate in a quiet way. I’m grateful that all this happened. It’s a wonderful thing. Looking forward to the next 20.”
Moore can savor his success from the perspective of someone who failed before he succeeded.
“I had a lot of years of not being successful,” he said. “The thing is, if you’re not failing, you’re not trying. So all my failures gave me solid ground to stand on, built up calluses and muscle.”
Moore writes songs for himself and others. B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Palmer, the Dixie Chicks and Joe Cocker are among the artists who’ve recorded his material.
“I don’t think anybody is really pitching my songs, so my records are my promotion team,” he said. “You get the record started, like a child. Once you’ve raised the child, the child has to go out on its own and make its own way.”
When Moore got an invitation, however, to play guitar for blues star Buddy Guy’s album, “Bring ’Em In,” he brought a new song along. Guy recorded Moore’s “The Price You Gotta Pay” for the 2005 release.
The nine songs Moore co-wrote for “BLUESAmericana” come from an honest place.
“It took me a long time to figure that out,” he said. “You have to come to the stage with something that’s real for you. And then the audience feels that and they start feeling what’s real for them. The experience, the music, the words, become transcendent. Like church without the sermon and the guilt.”
Moore aspires to make music and albums that last. He cites such diverse examples as Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue,” the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Led Zeppelin II.”
“They’re still relevant. That’s what I want to be.”