Americana Roots: Evolution

Genre and Style Guitar Course from Keb' Mo'

Hello, I’m Keb' Mo' — Welcome to the "Evolution” Edition of Americana Roots! I’m excited to have this opportunity to pass on to you what I’ve learned myself over the many years that I’ve been playing guitar, songwriting, recording, and performing on stage. I’m using my songs as the framework for the entire series — it's the best way to give you a true feel for my guitar playing, songwriting, and creative process. Each edition focuses on a key stage of my development as an artist. For this "Evolution” Edition, we're going to explore 10 songs from my The Reflection, BLUESAmericana, Oklahoma, and Good To Be albums. I'll perform each song, show you how to play them, and share the songwriting approaches I used when creating them. And with the interactive tools provided, you'll be able to practice and play along with me. So, grab your guitar and join me on this musical journey!

13 Lessons

Complete course with step-by-step lessons and practice examples.


Course filmed with 6 cameras for the perfect angles.

100% Appoval

15 of 15 of our members have given this their approval.

Tabs & Info

Download tabs, helpers, JamTracks and docs included with lessons.


Access this course, along with all other courses with Membership.

Full Course Breakdown


Introduction to Americana Roots: Evolution

Keb introduces us to to Americana Roots: Evolution

1:05 Runtime

0.0 Difficulty

View this Lesson

We Don't Need It

The song I'm going to play is called "We Don't Need It," co-written by Alan Dennis Rich and myself. As songwriters, we've all experienced struggles and hardships in life, but the song's moral is that everything is temporary, and we don't have to stay in tough situations.<br></br>The song is about having faith and the idea that we all have a lot of unnecessary "stuff" in our lives that we can let go of when things get tough. Selling or giving away things we don't need can help us navigate through difficult times.<br></br>This song is particularly special to me, and I enjoy performing it. I hope you enjoy it too.

15:39 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


More For Your Money

The next song I'm going to play is called "More for Your Money". It was co-written by myself and Nashville writer Gary Nicholson. The song explores the idea of progress and how it has affected our lives. The first verse talks about growing up in the 50s and playing with dangerous roller skates attached to our feet. The second verse touches on how big box stores have replaced small downtown businesses. While we can get everything we need at the big stores, the little man is out of business.<br></br>The bridge of the song tells the true story of calling customer service for a broken microwave and being connected with someone in the Philippines instead of the local Sears store down the street. The song also references the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme and how the government's debt could lead to China taking over America.<br></br>While the song has some humorous moments, everything in it is true. It's a lighthearted take on some of the things we encounter in our daily lives. As they say, there's nothing funnier than the truth. I hope you enjoy it.

17:49 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Small Chords & Double Stops

Alright folks, I've got a little song here called "Just Like You". This one is made up mostly of two-note chords - that means you're just using two notes from a chord instead of playing the full thing.<br></br>It's actually a really simple technique - just take a chord you already know and pick out a couple of notes that you like. You only need two fingers to play them. By doing this, you can create a lot of different chord combinations and interesting sounds with just a few notes.<br></br>So let's listen to this song and see if you can pick up on some of those two-note chords. Maybe it'll inspire you to try out some new chord combinations of your own.

2:09 Runtime

2.0 Difficulty


Somebody Hurt You

This song, Somebody Hurt You, embodies the old church spirit that inspired me musically. Growing up, I listened to some of the greatest singers and musicians in the world perform on Sundays. The call and response, camaraderie, and social structure of the church community shaped me as a musician.<br></br>The song is a good old hand clap swing, blues gospel tune that's all about happiness and having fun on the guitar. It's a joyous expression of the music that just comes out of me naturally. I hope you enjoy it and feel the same joy that it brings me.

15:45 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


This is My Home

This song, "This is My Home," was inspired by the events that took place at the border in 2016 after Donald Trump was elected President. I'm not trying to be political, but the situation inspired me to write a tribute to America and the many immigrants who have come here from all over the world.<br></br>The song is about belonging, feeling at home wherever you are, and knowing that you are okay. It's about the immigrant experience, how families come together and new stories are created. We all have a unique history, and this song celebrates the diversity and richness that comes with it.<br></br>I hope you can feel the love and pride that inspired me to write this song. This is my home, and I hope it can be your home too.

21:20 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


I Remember You

You ever been to a nightclub where there's regulars there, people that come in all the time, every night? They just love the place, they keep the place open, and they're the heart of the club. And there's usually a guy that sits at the bar. He talks a lot and he might have one time been a ladies man, but he is not no more.<br></br>Every time he gets a little bit lucky. And he loves the ladies and he's just kind of, he sits at the bar and his name is Junior. I've named him Junior and um, so that's why I put him in the song. He's a mysterious fellow, so the song has a bit of a mysterious vibe to it.<br></br>So the lyrics go like this:<br></br>"My name is Junior, from Memphis, Tennessee. My daddy was a hustler and a stranger to me. I don't always know just what to say, but do I look familiar in any kind of way?<br></br>Well, I remember you dancing on the floor. I remember you walking out the door. You had a red dress on and some high heel shoes. You don't remember me, but I remember you.<br></br>There's something about you that caught my eye. You had a certain grace, you were hard to deny. I've been coming to this club for quite some time. But I never met anyone like you, you're one of a kind.<br></br>I don't have much to offer, just a little bit of charm. But if you give me a chance, I won't do you no harm. Let's take a walk down by the river, let's watch the stars above. I'll tell you all my secrets, and you'll tell me yours, my love."<br></br>So that's the song, it's a bit of a love song and a bit of a story about Junior and his love interest. It's got a bit of a bluesy feel to it, with a touch of country as well. I hope you enjoyed it!

21:56 Runtime

3.0 Difficulty


Good to Be (Home Again)

This song is deeply personal to me because it was written in my childhood home of Compton, California. The Compton Cowboys and all the positive aspects of Compton are rarely showcased in the news, but they're what make it such a special place. This sentiment is something that many people feel about their hometowns. They wonder if anyone is still there, if it's the same as they remember.<br></br>I wrote this song with Money Mark Ramos over a three-day period on Zoom during the pandemic. We used a chord sequence from the Love Yourself song, which I had previously recycled, but this time it fit perfectly. The song is about nostalgia and the longing to go back to a simpler time. We all have memories that we cherish and sometimes we wish we could go back and relive them. That's what this song is about.

17:45 Runtime

3.5 Difficulty


All Dressed Up in Blue

This song called All Dressed Up in Blue. Whenever I tackle a blues lyric and blues songwriting, I always think of what do we not have in a song? So humor is a big deal. And the first line of this song being like, you know, you know, you told me you love me and I believed you for real.<br></br>But the fact is I should have listened to my mother . That's, that's the whole thing. That's all you need right there, you know? Nah, I told you that girl wasn't no good for you. I told you. You know, uh, but you go ahead anyway. And there you are, like all dressed up in blue lady, just sitting there and God, but you know, it's life and it's all good and it's all a lesson.<br></br>It's all leading you toward all your failures and, and compromises are. Pulling you towards success. And uh, so that's how I look at the blues. And this song, all Dressed Up in Blue is a very special, uh, blues number because it's made in the spirit of blues. The old, it's old nightclub, real nightclub blue song. It's not a concert hall song, it's a nightclub song.<br></br>You know, cigarettes and, you know, whiskey. It's near drinking glasses, clinking, you know, it's like that. So that's what I like about it. All dressed up in blue.

21:58 Runtime

3.5 Difficulty


Crafting Rhythm Parts That Fit the Song

When it comes to rhythm parts, that's really where the magic happens. That's where the groove and the feel come from. You've got the drummer, the bass player, the rhythm guitar, and maybe even the piano all working together to create this musical conversation.<br></br>There's a simplicity to it, but there's also this deep connection and interplay between all the different parts. As I'm playing my rhythm part, I'm really listening to what everyone else is doing and trying to answer their musical questions.<br></br>It's almost like we're all in a melodic drum circle, each of us contributing our own unique perspective and playing off of each other's energy. And that's what makes playing music so special - that feeling of collaboration and connection. So let's listen to the next song and see if we can pick up on some of those rhythmic nuances.

1:17 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


62 Chevy

The inspiration behind "62 Chevy" is all about having fun and celebrating the joy of life. It's a song about a car and a girl, a classic combination that never gets old. The car in question is a 1962 Chevrolet, a convertible that's perfect for cruising down the highway with the top down and the wind in your hair. And of course, no road trip is complete without a trusty dog in the backseat.<br></br>But this song is more than just a tribute to a great car. It's also about love and the lengths we'll go to for the people we care about. The protagonist of the song is trying to win back the affections of a girl who's left him. There's been a "breakdown in communication," and he's trying to make things right. He's willing to drive "around the world" to find her and make things right again. It's a simple sentiment, but it's one that's universally relatable.<br></br>The chords of "62 Chevy" are deceptively simple. The opening sequence, which goes from F to F#m to C#7 to A to B7, and has a classic bluesy feel that sets the tone for the rest of the song. And while the changes might seem easy on paper, they require a deft touch to get just right. But when done well, they provide the perfect foundation for the upbeat melody and catchy lyrics.<br></br>The chorus is the real heart of the song, with its repetition of the phrase "My 62 Chevy gonna take you to town." It's a rallying cry, an invitation to let go and enjoy the ride. With the top down and the dog in the backseat, there's nothing to hold you back. It's a celebration of the freedom that comes with hitting the open road and leaving your troubles behind.

40:10 Runtime

3.5 Difficulty


The Guitar is Simply a Sonic Tool

Let's chat about guitars for a bit. This Martin guitar I'm playing is a real beauty. It's an 00-18 model, made by the CF Martin Company, which has been crafting guitars for over a century. I've got medium gauge strings on it for playing slide, which can be a bit tricky on a fine instrument like this, but it's totally worth it.<br></br>Speaking of guitar makers, I also have a Paul Reed Smith guitar that's a real gem. He's a living legend and takes great pride in his craft. You can tell that every guitar that leaves his factory has his personal approval. And while Martin and Gibson are big names in the industry, there are so many other talented guitar makers out there who deserve recognition for their fine work.<br></br>All these companies, big and small, contribute to the history and evolution of music. And it's not just about the instruments themselves, it's about the people who play them. So even if you're not a famous musician, remember that every note you play counts. Your music has an impact on the world around you, and that's something to be grateful for. So keep playing, keep making music, and keep spreading joy.

5:32 Runtime

2.5 Difficulty


Course Wrap-up for Americana Roots: Evolution

Hey everyone, I just wanted to take a moment to thank each and every one of you for joining me on this journey and letting me share my tools with you. I like to call them tools - they're things I use to express myself and create, you know? And it means a lot that you appreciate them too. If you want to know more about me, Keb' Mo', you can check out or just look for me anywhere - maybe even in your local supermarket. Who knows? I might be playing on the radio while you're grabbing some snacks.<br></br>But seriously, thank you for going on this journey with me. I hope something I shared has helped you on your own musical journey, and I encourage you to keep at it. Music is a beautiful thing, and it can bring so much joy to your life. So let's make it a part of our lives, yeah? Again, I'm Keb' Mo', and thanks again for being here.

1:38 Runtime

0.0 Difficulty

Let's Start. Together.

Setup your account and explore our courses, teaching tools and resources.

Get Started
  • Nashville, TN
  • Playing since 1970
  • 221 lessons at JamPlay