Florida farmland informs JJ Grey’s groove
JJ Grey sings with a blue-collared spirit over bone-deep grooves. His compositions and presence before an audience are at times a funk rave-up, other times a sort of mass-absolution for the mortal weaknesses that make him and his audience human.
Grey and his band Mofro grace and groove in equal measure, with an easygoing quality that make their muscular drum-breaks sound as if the band set up in your living room.
For devoted listeners, there is something fitting, even affirmative in Grey's commitment to the land of his north Florida home. The farms and eddying swamps of his youth are as much a part of Grey's music as the Louisiana swamp-blues tradition, or the singer's collection of old Stax records.
As a boy, Grey was drawn to country-rockers, including Jerry Reed, and to Otis Redding and the other luminaries of Memphis soul. Run-D.M.C., meanwhile, played on repeat in the parking lot of his high school. Merging these traditions, and working with a blue-collar ethic, Grey began touring as Mofro in the late ‘90s, with backbeats that crossed Steve Cropper with George Clinton.
Soon, he was expanding his tours beyond America and the United Kingdom, playing ever-larger clubs and eventually massive festivals.
Who: JJ Grey and Mofro
When: 7:30 p.m. July 10
Where: Pisgah Brewing, Black Mountain
Cost: $27 advance, $32 door