He recognizes his early gig, ‘Damn it’s early’, but brought the horns, strings, drums, funk and a suit. JJ Grey sings a different kind of blues. The Sunshine State (FL) brings its own set of problems. He dedicates “Six Ways From Sunday” to anyone who has ever had a crackhead in their family. He sings “99 Shades of Crazy” for all those who have a voice in their head.
Mofro brings the funk. Its a blues jive that carries the catchy-creative smirky lyrics.
Grey makes a case for his roots…’You hear so many songs about my Grandmother. That’s why I’m wearing a suit today, because of her. She was born in 1917. Between Fargo (GA) and Valdosta Georgia. A little girl, almost all by herself. Her mama was a professional damsel in distress. A rattlesnake spooked my great-grandfather’s horse…I aint makin’ this shit up…and the horse rolled on him and crushed him. He didn’t die, he just became a drunk and disappeared and my grandmother lived in tobacco farm tenant shacks all along the southern Florida-North Georgia border for the rest of her childhood. So I wrote a song (“Gal Youngin”) in tribute of the sweetest lady ever and also the toughest human being, bar-man, bar-none, bar-anything. The toughest individual I’ve ever met in my entire life.
JJ talks of the day: The Record Company slaying it, Melissa Etheridge, and a supergroup of all your heroes (referring to The Rides) and goes into a rant about life, explaining how he played for years without enjoying it. ‘I didn’t like it…I mean I liked it, I just had to do it. I was like a salmon, swimming upstream, gotta go that way. I didn’t enjoy it, but that was my fault.’ He realized it wasn’t anyone else’s fault. But he’s happy to report now that he is enjoying it. He thanks all who came to his shows, who helped him become a better human being, and thanks us all for being a part of an honest moment. The crowd shows love, with a select few moving stage front to dance to his song about mustard greens, black eyed beans, fried chicken, lima beans, sweet potato pie…while the trumpet & keyboard solo carries them.
A fan of music and the festival experience, I appreciated JJ Grey & Mofro allowing us a moment to collect ourselves between The Record Company and The Rides.
JJ Grey & Mofro Setlist:
“Six Ways From Sunday”
“99 Shades of Crazy”
“Brighter Days” instrumental outro -
“Hide & Seek”
“The Sun is Shining Down”
JJ Grey & Mofro Concert Review by Elizabeth Lauer – Santa Cruz American Music Festival 2017 at Aptos Village Park in Aptos, California
JJ Grey and Mofro photo credit Elizabeth Lauer