Five years ago, I had the chance to see JJ Grey & Mofro in a rare Atlantic City performance. At the time, the Revel (now Ocean Resort) was booking intimate shows at a club called The Social. This specific artist and band has been a staple on our family playlists since being introduced to them by a friend from Florida who has enjoyed them for years at festivals and fairs in the Sunshine State.
JJ Grey & Mofro's music can be described as a combination of soul, blues, funk and rock. The musical influences and songs written by JJ Grey are a direct reflection of the area and the place where he grew up in and around Jacksonville, Florida. Storytelling in song has always attracted Grey to iconic artists that have notably captured regions throughout the United States, from Otis Redding to Lynyrd Skynyrd to Run-DMC.
The music of JJ Grey & Mofro is a perfect accompaniment to anything and everything you will be doing outdoors. The sounds of the band are built for barbecues, enjoying some time on the water, chilling on your deck, or, in a nod to Otis Redding, “sitting on the dock of the bay.” My family’s lakeside vacation playlist is filled with JJ Grey and Mofro tunes.
The journeyman: JJ Grey attributes most of the band's strength to its stage performances rather than in the studio. The band is also known for its extensive touring schedule. It has continually played at major summer music festivals. Early on in its touring days, JJ Grey & Mofro gained fame within the jam band.
The words: JJ Grey’s lyrics are honest and authentic to his southern roots. The balance between music you want to enjoy and lyrics you need to listen to are a key ingredient to the appeal of JJ Grey & Mofro.
The sounds: The band’s sound is comprised of vocals, guitars, keyboards, drums, harmonica and as we were treated to at the Atlantic City show, sometimes a horn section.
Dive in and discover the depth: The band has nine albums to discover, including the recently released "Ol’ Glory." The record has been described as having “the fierceness and intimacy that defines a Grey live performance”.
This land is our land: JJ Grey is committed to the land and the people that occupy it. The farms and eddying swamps of his youth are a big part of Grey's music. The singer songwriter actively promotes the area he hails from through his writing and his banter with the audience.
Don’t just take it from me: My friend, Gary Musich, a true live-music fan and lifetime concertgoer who was at the Atlantic City show, said it best, "Look around. Do you know how lucky we are to be here, to experience this band in this intimate setting?" Gary was right. We all felt lucky to catch a band that does not make frequent stops at the Jersey Shore.
If you want to “Listen Up” and see JJ Grey & Mofro live, you are in luck if you can travel just a bit. Upcoming area shows include:
Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, on Friday, July 12, with Jonny Lang and North Mississippi Allstars.
And JJ Grey will embark on a rare solo tour this fall, stopping at several major markets on the East Coast! The two closest shows are at the Beacon Theatre in New York City on Oct. 10 and World Cafe Live in Philadelphia on Oct. 14.