JJ Grey is a multi-instrumentalist who sings with a passion and fervor directly influenced by the classic soul heroes. He has written and recorded five albums of original songs steeped in the rhythm & blues, rock, and country soul of his native backwoods home outside Jacksonville, Florida.
Grey comes from a long tradition of Southern storytellers and, in that spirit, he fills his songs with details that are at once vivid, personal and universal. After a decade of hard touring, he still spends eight months of the year on the road, bringing his music to a loyal, ever-growing, worldwide fanbase. His music is described as “Southern swamp rock with undercurrents of Memphis soul. His songs chronicle ambiguous truths and unambiguous urges,” delivered by Grey’s winningly uncontrived vocals. His latest album, “Georgia Warhorse,” is named after the resilient Southern lubber grasshopper, which he describes as Yellow and black, and tough like an old-school Tonka toy. They seem so at ease with the world. Nothing seems to rile them. Theyre in no hurry but they have a kind of resilience because they just keep coming back and Ive always felt there was a lesson in there for me to learn.
Grey could be described in such words; his own career has grown over the course of a decade of winning over fans night after night. As with the previous releases, Grey meticulously demoed the entire “Georgia Warhorse” album himself on the various instruments in his own home studio he calls the Egg Room. “Its named after the old refrigerator room we used to keep eggs in when my grandparents were in the egg business, says Grey. Once Im done with the demos then I start thinking about hitting the real studio. Armed with eleven new original songs including one co-written with songwriting icons Chuck Prophet and Angelo Petraglia (Kings of Leon), Grey and long-time friend and producer Dan Prothero hit the real studio, Jim Devitos Retrophonics in St. Augustine, Florida, to begin tracking Georgia Warhorse. There, Grey would again track the majority of the instruments himself, playing guitars, keys, harmonica and delivering all the vocals with his gritty, straight-from-the-soul voice. Protheros approach as producer and Retrophonics unvarnished, natural sound mirrors Greys vision of musical tones and his love of the rustic Florida backwoods, where his family has lived for generations. Joining him for a track on this album is Greys long-time musical hero and reggae icon Toots Hibbert, who sings with Grey on The Sweetest Thing. “Toots is the greatest soul singer Ive ever heard and one of my biggest influences, says Grey. Georgia Warhorse also provided the opportunity for Grey to work with another friend and hero, fellow Jacksonvillian Derek Trucks. In true neighborly fashion, Trucks stopped by JJs house to record slide guitar for the song Lullaby. Derek Trucks is the greatest guitarist Ive ever seen and Im honored to have Derek and Toots on my record, says Grey.
Debuting in 2001 with the CD Blackwater, following up in 2004 with Lochloosa, Grey steadily built his following one live performance at a time. Both albums (reissued by Alligator in 2007) were released under the name Mofro, a name the young Grey chose to describe his music and sound while still working his day job at a lumberyard. He has since used the word to name his band of ever-changing world-class players. The albums were met with critical acclaim, including one of the 10 best R&B records of the year and one of the best of the decade at Amazon.com for Blackwater and one of the 10 best releases of the year in Rolling Stone for Lochloosa. In 2007, with his first Alligator release, Country Ghetto, Grey reached an even larger audience, doubling both his album sales and his concert attendance. Relix said, Country Ghetto is a tribute to JJ Greys rich comprehension of the Souths learned musical roots and knack to make age-old ideas sound fresh. Grey and Mofro fuse rock with plenty of soul, groove-heavy blues, and dirty, infectious funk. The deep and introspective lyrics are a breath of fresh air. 2008s Orange Blossoms built on that energy, with even more fans, radio stations and critics coming on board. A 2009 best-of LP, The Choice Cuts, has kept the momentum going. Over the course of his 15-plus year career, Grey has shared stages with the likes of the B.B. King, The Allman Brothers Band, The Black Crowes, Los Lobos, Jeff Beck, Ben Harper, Lenny Kravitz, Booker T. Jones, Mavis Staples and many others.
His songs have also appeared in film and on network and cable television programs including House, Flashpoint, Crash, Friday Night Lights, The Deadliest Catch, and the film The Hoot.
* Multi-instrumentalist who sings with a passion and fervor directly influenced by the classic soul heroes.
* Has shared stages with the likes of the B.B. King, The Allman Brothers Band, The Black Crowes, Los Lobos, Jeff Beck, Ben Harper, Lenny Kravitz, Booker T. Jones, Mavis Staples and many others.
* Music is described as southern swamp rock with undercurrents of Memphis soul.”