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JJ Grey & MOFRO
Also known as Mofro
Origin Jacksonville, Florida
Genres Soul, Funk, Blues, Rock, R&B
Years active late 1990s–present
Labels Fog City Records
Alligator Records
Website JJ Grey & MOFRO home page
Members
JJ Grey
Daryl Hance
Andrew Trube
Art Edmaiston
Dennis Marion
Anthony "AC" Cole
Anthony Farrell

JJ Grey & MOFRO (formerly billed just as Mofro) is a soul/funk/R&B/blues/southern rock band from Jacksonville, Florida composed of JJ Grey (vocals, electric piano, acoustic guitar and electric guitar, harmonica), Daryl Hance (electric guitar and slide guitar), Anthony Farrell (Hammond Organ), Anthony Cole (drums) and the "Hercules Horns" Dennis Marion (trumpet), Art Edmaiston (tenor saxophone) and Andrew Trube (bass guitar).

They will be performing as a part of The Voodoo Experience held at City Park in New Orleans, Louisiana over Halloween weekend 2009. [1]

Contents

History

In the early and mid-90s, Grey teamed up with guitarist Daryl Hance, a friend he knew from high school. They moonlighted on nights and weekends playing at clubs in the Jacksonville area under various band names and a mixed genre of rock and funk.

Mofro was founded in the late 1990s. Grey first coined the blend of rhythm and blues, soul and funky rock & roll as “Mofro Magic” in 1997, based on the continuous southern slang being thrown around at a lumberyard in Jacksonville where he worked.

In 1998 Grey was offered a recording contract by the UK label Acid Jazz Records in London. At the time the label was run by music business legend Dave Robinson (co-founder of Stiff Records). Robinson offered Grey a recording contract and encouraged him to move to London.

In August 1998 Grey left Florida for London but upon arrival found that the label was involved in an unrelated legal battle that in turn forced the voiding of their offer. Grey then struck out on his own by placing ads in Melody Maker and NME for musicians to play some local shows. The first Mofro show (billed as “Mofro Magic”) with JJ Grey and Daryl Hance (who had joined Grey in London) and assorted players from the local London music scene, was held in January, 1999.

John "JJ" Grey was born in Jacksonville, Florida in October 1967. He was raised on the Westside of Jacksonville in a tiny community called Whitehouse. He received his first guitar as a Christmas present when he was 11 years old but the guitar was destroyed the very morning he got it when a neighbor accidentally backed over it with their car. Two years later he bought a red Western Auto "True Tone" guitar (he recently retired this guitar from tour duty) and an amplifier for ten dollars. “The guitar had only three strings on it and I eventually, through sheer laziness, gave up on learning how to play”, stated Grey. The family had an old Lowrey organ and he spent some time on it before abandoning it as well.

“I realized as a young-un that it didn’t take a whole lot of effort for me to sing. My aunt and uncle had a gospel group (they sing background vocals on “The Sun Is Shining Down” on the Country Ghetto album) they influenced me a lot. That and when my parents weren’t looking I’d catch local bands play in a juke joint behind my grandfather’s house in Baldwin (FL). That’s where my R&B influences first came from.”

Grey has often noted his affinity for Otis Redding, and he frequently sings a tribute to him during their shows. He also credits his musical chops to Tony Joe White, Bill Withers, Donny Hathaway, and many of the classic R&B artists such as Sly & The Family Stone. He describes their music as "front porch soul;" it varies from raw bluesy/funk to raucous rhythm and blues—a mix that defies any single genre classification.

While the style of their music was a shared evolutionary effort by Grey and Hance, Grey is the songwriter/lyricist for all of the band's songs, as well as the composer. Often, the songs will reflect stories of his childhood or that of his grandparents or parents. Others have been known to be about friends or family members that have taken a wrong turn in life. Others still reflect on his sense of loss at seeing the rural areas of Florida known to him and generations of his family but now being suburbanized and affected by development.

Early Albums

While in London, Grey caught the interest of San Francisco label Fog City Records in May 2000 and decided to return to Florida, bringing some of the London players back with him. Along with Hance they recorded their debut album "Blackwater" at Retrophonics Studio in Crescent Beach, Florida.

The album, was produced and released by Dan Prothero on his label Fog City Records. It was well received and was named one of the best records of the decade by Amazon.com.[2]

Acting as manager and booking agent, Grey booked two full USA tours on his own and in April 2001 Mofro began their tour to support “Blackwater. The second run of dates would never be played as on October 20, 2001 the first night of the second tour leg, Grey, along with his wife, and a former band mate and friend were hit from behind at extremely high speed in an auto accident that nearly claimed their lives. It took almost 6 months of physical recovery before Mofro was ready to hit the road again but in February 2002 the band went on with the rest of the Blackwater Tour dates.

Grey, Prothero, Hance and a new cast of musicians returned in March 2003 to Retrophonics to record their second release, Lochloosa, named after a lake Lake Lochloosa near Grey’s home in Florida. As with its predecessor, “Lochloosa” also received critical acclaim with Rolling Stone critics’ including the album on their “Critics' Top Ten Lists. [3]. Immediately after its release in 2004 the band set out on the road in support of "Lochloosa," playing many festivals including Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits Festival continuing to build a live following.

2007-Present

In 2007 MOFRO signed with Alligator Records, released the album Country Ghetto, and began performing under the name JJ Grey & MOFRO. The album took 2 years to record because of the band's extensive touring schedule. Grey has said recently that for many years people have come up to him after shows and inquired as to when he was going to do a solo album. Many did not realize that he is the musical, and lyrical, force behind Mofro, and has been since its inception.

In an interview with Stuart Gaines of the Mountain Xpress[4] in Asheville, NC published on February 21, 2007, JJ Grey spoke about "getting comfortable in his own skin, mirrored in the recent band-name switch to 'JJ Grey & MOFRO,' a subtle yet telling shift," says Gaines.

Grey said,“for some people [the name change] might not be a big deal at all, and for a handful it might be a super-big deal—for God knows what reason. But for me the only thing that made it enough of an issue to address was that this is the diary of my life, so to speak, laid out musically.”

The band toured the U.S. extensively in 2007 to promote Country Ghetto, including 2 weeks in Northern Europe opening for Los Lobos.

In 2008, they continued to tour in support of Country Ghetto, including a jaunt to Australia. In September 2008, JJ Grey & MOFRO released Orange Blossoms also under the Alligator label, and produced by Dan Prothero. "Orange Blossoms" has the distinction from their other albums in that 3 female back-up singers were used. The band has worked with producer / engineer Dan Prothero since their first studio outing, "Blackwater", released in 2001 on Prothero's label Fog City Records.

Taping/Recording

JJ Grey & MOFRO permits and encourages the practice of taping live shows by audience members and allows non-profit trading of the recordings. Tapers are not permitted to plug directly into the soundboard at shows; only microphones are allowed. The recordings are also permitted to be uploaded to archive.org for non-commercial use. Copyrights for the recordings are reserved by JJ Grey & Mofro. [5]

Discography

Albums

Year Title Label
2001 Blackwater Fog City Records
2004 Lochloosa
2007 Country Ghetto Alligator Records
2008 Orange Blossoms

References

  1. ^ http://www.musicnewsnet.com/2009/06/new-orleans-voodoo-experience-fest-line-up-announced.html
  2. ^ "Amazon.com's Best of 2001". Amazon.com. 2001. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/product-description/B00005AVKH/ref=dp_proddesc_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music.  
  3. ^ "ROLLING STONE Critics' Top Ten Lists "From Ambulance to the Zutons, our favorite albums of 2004". RollingStone.com. 2004. http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/6795933/critics_top_ten_lists.  
  4. ^ "Grey Area: MOFRO front man assumes responsibility for his mojo". Mountain Xpress. February 21, 2007. http://www.mountainx.com/ae/2007/022107greyarea/.  
  5. ^ http://www.archive.org/details/JJGreyandMOFRO

External links


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