Touring in support of the new album “This River,” JJ Grey takes the stage at Jannus Live on Nov. 1.
ST. PETERSBURG – Singer-songwriter-musician JJ Grey and his band Mofro celebrate the release of their new CD, “This River,” with a performance Friday, Nov. 1, at Jannus Live, 200 First Ave. N., St. Petersburg.
Doors will open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30. Call 565-0550 or visit jannuslive.com.
This is Grey's seventh album – his fifth for Alligator Records – and his first studio album since 2010's acclaimed “Georgia Warhorse.”
“This River,” like his previous releases, was produced by Grey and Dan Prothero, and recorded at Retrophonics Studio in St. Augustine, with additional recording done in Grey's home studio, known as "The Egg Room."
As proven by his previous albums, Grey is a meticulous storyteller.
"Many of the new songs," said Grey in a press release from Alligator Records, “are about being your own worst enemy, and about normal folks pushing themselves over the edge.” Grey’s lyrics and slice-of-life scenarios are filled with honest detail, helping to bring his emotionally complex characters to life in songs including “Somebody Else,” “99 Shades Of Crazy,” “The Ballad Of Larry Webb” and “This River.”
"I see a little bit of myself in these songs," Grey said. “The difference is in the choices people make."
His gritty vocals and punchy horn arrangements add even more depth to the lyrical album. Grey's fervent delivery and the expert musicianship of the band pull the listener deep inside each track, making “This River” a deeply moving and engaging musical statement.
“I took my time and I'm happy for it,” said Grey.
For “This River,” Grey brought the whole band in to the studio and cut most of the tracks live. To Grey, the result was a bit more like their live show.
"It adds so much more to the dynamic of a recording. It's so different when you get to play off each other rather than overdub each track," said Grey.
From his early days playing cover music behind chicken wire at a Westside Jacksonville juke joint to playing sold-out shows and some of the largest music festivals in the world, it's been a long road. But Grey has no illusions about where he's headed or where he's been. When prompted with questions about his past accomplishments or future plans, Grey lays down a little backwoods wisdom:
“I'm just a salmon swimming upstream,” Grey said. “Going back home, I reckon. I don't know why and I quit caring why a long time ago. I guess there is no 'why' that my mind could understand anyway. All I do know is that I've enjoyed and I'm still enjoying every second of just being here and doing whatever it is I'm doing.”
JJ Grey is from Jacksonville, He made his recording debut in 2001 with “Blackwater,” following up in 2004 with “Lochloosa.” Alligator has reissued both albums.
In 2007 Grey released his Alligator debut, “Country Ghetto,” followed by 2008's “Orange Blossoms.” With the release of 2010's “Georgia Warhorse,” Grey stepped further into the mainstream view with the AAA radio breakout single “The Sweetest Thing.” In 2011 the full fury of the band's live show was captured on the live CD/DVD “Brighter Days.”
Grey has played countless festivals, including Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Wakarusa, Austin City Limits Festival, the Byron Bay Blues Festival in Australia, Montreal Jazz Festival and Fuji Rock in Japan. Over the course of his career, Grey has shared stages with the likes of Lenny Kravitz, B.B. King, The Allman Brothers Band, The Black Crowes, Los Lobos, Jeff Beck, Ben Harper, Booker T. Jones, Mavis Staples and many others. In 2011 the band extensively toured the UK. That same year, back in the United States, Grey embarked on his first-ever solo tour, playing packed-to-capacity clubs.
The band returned to Europe in 2012, playing multiple dates in the UK, Germany and The Netherlands. Grey and his band, who continue to play over 125 shows a year, will return to Europe in 2013.
Grey’s songs have appeared in film and network television including “House,” “Flashpoint,” “Crash,” “Friday Night Lights,” “The Glades,” “The Deadliest Catch” and the film “The Hoot.”
In November 2009, Grey wrote his first film score for the critically-acclaimed, Emmy Award-winning documentary “The Good Soldier,” that appeared in theatres and on Bill Moyers Journal on PBS. In 2010, Grey played piano, sang and contributed the song “The Wrong Side” to Buckwheat Zydeco's Grammy-winning Alligator Records album “Lay Your Burden Down.” He also appears on Shemekia Copeland's Grammy-nominated 2012 CD “33 1/3.”
Grey to debut custom craft beer
JJ Grey, leader of JJ Grey & Mofro, has teamed with Florida's Rock Brothers Brewery to create a custom craft beer.
Grey, a Florida native, worked with the brewery to develop JJ Grey's Nare Sugar Brown. The beer will make its debut on Nov. 1 at the JJ Grey & Mofro concert in St. Petersburg at Jannus Live.
The beer, an ale named after Grey’s grandfather's preferred way to drink his coffee – "nare sugar" – will only be available in Florida at the present time.
Grey was actively involved in the beer's creation.
“We sat down and talked about it for a while,” said Grey in a press release from Alligator Records. “And during that conversation I was educated on how artful brew mastering really is. We all put our heads together and then these guys went out and created the beer from scratch. The whole process was amazing and I feel really lucky to have been a part of it. In the end I think they made a beer that somehow matches my music sip for sip (or chug) and note for note.”
Grey and Rock Brothers Brewery will donate 5 percent of net proceeds of Nare Sugar Brown sales to The Snook and Gamefish Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation that serves as a platform for anglers and conservationists to preserve, protect and enhance game fish populations.