Keb' Mo' with Bonnie Raitt

Keb' Mo' will play the spirit of the blues--literally--in Honeydripper, the next movie by acclaimed director John Sayles. The casting, however, isn't as perfect as it seems. Press reports describe the flick (Sayles' first since 2004's Silver City, which was largely filmed in Denver) as a musical drama focusing on the birth of rock and roll, with Mo' portraying Possum, a Robert Johnson-like ghost who appears to a young guitarist played by Gary Clark Jr. Mo', though, is a bluesman more in terms of reputation than fact. Sure, the photo on the cover of his new disc, Suitcase, makes him look like an old-time yowler, and the soloing throughout the likes of "Eileen" has a mildly bluesy flavor. But deep down, most of the material is relaxed, mid-tempo singer-songwriter fare that has little in common with the gutbucket stuff of yore. Mo' is a popularizer, not a revivalist, which is why his slicked-up, smoothed-down tunes should hit the sweet spot with fans of Bonnie Raitt, who headlines this date. No wonder Hollywood's come calling.


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