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Keb Mo

Release Date: 01/18/01
Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 10 - Jan. 2001
HD-28KM (Kevin Moore)

Keb’ Mo’ is a modern day ambassador of acoustic blues. With his charismatic performing style and fresh, insightful songs, he has expanded the genre in new directions and captured new audiences for a music both evocative and timeless.

A Martin Dreadnought has been one of Keb’ Mo’s main instruments in his rise to stardom, both in the studio and on stage. Now Martin has created the HD-28KM Keb’ Mo’ Limited Edition Signature model. Like the man who inspired it, the HD-28KM combines tradition and modernity in one great instrument.

In truth, Kevin Moore (Keb’ Mo’s given name) didn’t find the blues: they found him. A native of the Los Angeles area, Moore began playing guitar at age 12. He went on to play electric guitar in a variety of jazz, top 40, and rhythm and blues bands during the 1970s and 1980s. He worked as a sideman for violinist Papa John Creach (of Jefferson Starship and Hot Tuna fame), released a record under his own name that went nowhere, and took a job in a studio. He wasn’t singing the blues, but he was living them.

Then fate stepped in. In 1989, he heard the music of blues great Robert Johnson for the first time, and a powerful connection was made. A few months later, he received a call from a theater group looking for an African-American to play a .....bluesman in a production called Rabbit Foot. Moore picked up an acoustic guitar for the first time in years and, with the help of recordings by Johnson, Big Bill Broonzy and Son House, learned a new musical vocabulary.

After the play wrapped, he played in local clubs, wrote songs and adopted the name Keb’ Mo’. The tape he made to sell at shows eventually netted him a recording contract. His self-titled 1994 debut album won a W.C. Handy Award as best Country/Acoustic Blues Album of the Year and stayed on blues charts for more than a year.

His 1996 follow-up album, "Just Like You" did even better, winning a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album and spawning hits like "Perpetual Blues Machine," "That’s Not Love," and "More Than One Way Home." He toured North America and Europe, opening for Celine Dion, Lyle Lovett, Santana and Bonnie Raitt, and soon became a headliner in his own right. He also made appearances on television, including "The Late Show With David Letterman," "Sessions at West 54th" and "Touched By An Angel." His 1998 album "Slow Down" proved another triumph, helping him win back-to-back W.C. Handy Awards for Acoustic Blues Artist of the Year in 1997 and 1998.

Keb’ Mo’s recently released fourth album, "The Door," continues his winning streak. An ambitious album that combines blues with touches of jazz and even soul, it shows an artist growing in intriguing directions.

As you might expect, the HD-28KM Keb’ Mo’ Limited Edition Signature model combines impressive solid tonewoods and appointments. The top is beautiful, straight-grained Engelmann spruce, prized for rich, full tone and responsiveness. The back and sides are flamed Hawaiian Koa, a beautiful wood with exceptionally clear, balanced sound. Scalloped top braces, forward-shifted one inch from the soundhole, enhance the instrument’s vintage character and dynamic range.

The genuine mahogany neck addresses tradition in its diamond volute and square, tapered headstock, and the needs of players in its low profile shape. The wide genuine ebony fingerboard, 1 3/4" inches at the nut, simplifies runs, as do the jumbo frets. An ebony belly bridge matches the fingerboard. Both the nut and compensated saddle are crafted from genuine bone.

Design and wood make the HD-28KM a pleasure to hear and play: appointments make it a pleasure to behold. The vintage toner-tinted top, encompassed by fine pattern herring-bone purfling and grained ivoroid binding, and protected by a polished and beveled vintage tortoise-colored pickguard, approximates the look of a classic Martin Dreadnought from the 1930s. Ivoroid binding, black and white line purfling and a zig zag center strip on the back are similarly vintage-inspired. The soundhole rosette features highly colored abalone pearl flanked by traditional Style 45 black and white line inlays.

The genuine ebony headstock overlay provides a striking contrast to Martin’s traditional gold decal, a contrast matched by its gold Schaller tuners with large ebony buttons. The fingerboard is inlaid with "long pattern" diamonds and squares abalone pearl position markers, with Keb’ Mo’s signature appearing between 19th and 20th frets.

Every HD-28KM Keb’ Mo’ Signature model comes with an interior label personally signed by Keb’ Mo’ and Martin Chairman and CEO, C. F. Martin IV, and is delivered in a Geib™ style deluxe vintage hardshell case. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each HD-28KM guitar will support the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Conservation Center which has provided homes for captive wildlife in need for more than 19 years.

Orders for the HD-28KM Keb’ Mo’ Limited Edition Signature model will be accepted by Martin dealers and distributors for a limited time only. The size of the edition plus a list of participating Martin dealers will be posted on the Martin website at

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