BY RON NETSKY
The stage was set up in an unusual way for Daryl Hall and Keb’ Mo’s appearance Thursday night at Kodak Hall. Surrounding the back and side walls of the stage was a faux-wood recreation of the music room where Hall hosts “Live From Daryl’s House.” The webcast features a wide variety of musicians who come to jam with Hall and his band. Aside from the preoccupation with food that is part of every one of the shows, Hall and Keb’ Mo’s performance preserved a large share of the spirit of the webcast.
Hall had an enormously successful career in pop music in the duo Hall & Oates with John Oates. Now he’s found a way to explore his roots — like the blues and R&B that Keb’ Mo’ plays — in a jam-session setting and he’s clearly having the time of his life. Of course, playing with some of the most accomplished rock musicians to be found anywhere on the stage, it’s not exactly a loose jam session. But it still had a pretty free feel to it.
Hall looked perpetually hip and youthful in jeans, a black t-shirt, and black leather jacket. Keb’ Mo’ (short for Kevin Moore) was even slicker, lean as can be and wearing an exceedingly cool fedora.
Hall definitely got a kick out of singing Keb’ Mo’ songs like “My Baby’s Tellin’ Lies” and “The Whole Enchilada.” And he clearly admired Keb’ Mo’s touching song, “We Don’t Need It.” For his part, Keb’ Mo’ was more than willing to chime in with a verse or two on Hall songs like “Maneater” and “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do).” The latter was preceded by a little conversation typical of the back and forth between Hall and Keb’ Mo’ all night:
Keb’ Mo’: “That’s a bad-ass song!”
Hall: “You know why it’s a bad-ass song? I wrote it about the record business.”
Many of the Eastman Theatre shows I’ve seen at XRIJFs over the years have been elaborately choreographed down to the stage patter. This one was refreshingly loose.
I had planned to hear two excellent visiting guitarists tonight. Unfortunately, Mark McKnight never made it to Christ Church. He apparently had travel problems. But Bjorn Thoroddsen was on stage at the Lutheran Church displaying his dazzling guitar skills.
On a solo medley of Beatles tunes he played rhythm, lead, and bass simultaneously, tossed in harmonics, and added percussion while keeping the bass going. Without missing a beat, he ran through “Here Comes The Sun,” “Day Tripper,” and “Norwegian Wood,” increasing the complexity as the performance progressed.
Friday I will hear newly discovered arrangements by the great Gil Evans when Ryan Truesdell’s band (from the Eastman School) takes the stage at Montage. Then I’ll head for Christ Church, where Orlando LeFleming’s excellent trio will be playing. I’ll try to fit in French pianist Jean-Michel Pilc at Hatch Hall. And, finally, I will see the current group — Fountain of Youth Band — of the legendary drummer Roy Haynes at Kilbourn Hall.
There are only two nights left of the festival. What are you hoping to see before it wraps up Saturday?