Vinyl Music Hall Presents
JJ Grey & Mofro
Thu, April 27, 2017
Vinyl Music Hall
$28.00 - $30.00
This event is all ages
General Admission * Standing Room Only * Additional $5 Cash Surcharge At The Door For Under 21 * Attendees Under 16 Must Be Accompanied By A Ticketed, Adult Guardian * Posted Times Are Door Times- Events Generally Begin 30-60 Minutes After Doors Openhttp://www.vinylmusichall.com/event/1437440/
Onstage, Grey delivers his songs with compassion and a relentless honesty, but perhaps not until Ol’ Glory has a studio record captured the fierceness and intimacy that defines a Grey live performance. “I wanted that crucial lived-in feel,” Grey says of Ol’ Glory, and here he hits his mark. On the new album, Grey and his current Mofro lineup offer grace and groove in equal measure, with an easygoing quality to the production that makes those beautiful muscular drum-breaks sound as though the band has set up in your living room.
Despite a redoubtable stage presence, Grey does get performance anxiety—specifically, when he's suspended 50 feet above the soil of his pecan grove, clearing moss from the upper trees.
“The tops of the trees are even worse,” he laughs, “say closer to 70, maybe even 80 feet. I'm not phobic about heights, but I don't think anyone's crazy about getting up in a bucket and swinging all around. I wanted to fertilize this year but didn't get a chance. This February I will, about two tons—to feed the trees.”
When he isn't touring, Grey exerts his prodigious energies on the family land, a former chicken-farm that was run by his maternal grandmother and grandfather. The farm boasts a recording studio, a warehouse that doubles as Grey's gym, an open-air barn, and of course those 50-odd pecan trees that occasionally require Grey to go airborne with his sprayer.
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 (note the hip-hop inflections on “A Night to Remember”). Merging these traditions, and working with a blue-collar ethic that brooked no bullshit, Grey began touring as Mofro in the late '90s, with backbeats that crossed Steve Cropper with
George Clinton and a lyrical directness that made his debut LP Blackwater (2001) a calling-card among roots-rock aficionados. Soon, he was expanding his tours beyond America and the U.K., playing ever-larger clubs and eventually massive festivals, as his fan base grew from a modest group of loyal initiates into something resembling a national coalition.
Grey takes no shortcuts on the homestead, and he certainly takes no shortcuts in his music. While he has metaphorically speaking “drawn blood” making all his albums, his latest effort, Ol’ Glory, found him spending more time than ever working over the new material. A hip-shooting, off-the-cuff performer (often his first vocal takes end up pleasing him best), Grey was able to stretch his legs a bit while constructing the lyrics and vocal lines to Ol’ Glory.
“I would visit it much more often in my mind, visit it more often on the guitar in my house,” Grey says. “I like an album to have a balance, like a novel or like a film. A triumph, a dark brooding moment, or a moment of peace—that's the only thing I consistently try to achieve with a record.”
Grey has been living this balance throughout his career, and Ol’ Glory is a beautifully paced little film. On “The Island,” Grey sounds like Coleridge on a happy day: “All beneath the canopy / of ageless oaks whose secrets keep / Forever in her beauty / This island is my home.” “A Night to Remember” finds the singer in first-rate swagger: “I flipped up my collar ah man / I went ahead and put on my best James Dean / and you'd a thought I was Clark Gable squinting through that smoke.” And “Turn Loose” has Grey in fast-rhyme mode in keeping with the song's title: “You work a stride / curbside thumbing a ride / on Lane Avenue / While your kids be on their knees / praying Jesus please.” From the profane to the sacred, the sly to the sublime, Grey feels out his range as a songwriter with ever-greater assurance.
The mood and drive of Ol’ Glory are testament to this achievement. The album ranks with Grey’s very best work; among other things, the secret spirituality of his music is perhaps more accessible here than ever before. On “Everything Is a Song,” he sings of “the joy with no opposite,” a sacred state that Grey describes to me:
“It can happen to anybody: you sit still and you feel things tingling around you, everything's alive around you, and in that a smile comes on your face involuntarily, and in that I felt no opposite. It has no part of the play of good and bad or of comedy or tragedy. I know it’s just a play on words but it feels like more than just being happy because you got what you wanted — this is a joy. A joy that doesn’t get involved one way or the next; it just is.”
Grey's most treasured albums include Otis Redding's In Person at the Whisky a Go Go and Jerry Reed's greatest hits, and the singer once told me that he grew up “wanting to be Jerry Reed but with less of a country, more of a soul thing.” With Ol’ Glory, Grey does his idols proud. It's a country record where the stories are all part of one great mystery; it's a blues record with one foot in the church; it's a Memphis soul record that takes place in the country.
In short, Ol’ Glory is that most singular thing, a record by JJ Grey—the north Florida sage and soul- bent swamp rocker.
"These are exciting times! In the 6 short months since we have been working together, we have poured numerous hours into writing, touring, and growing as a band, and now, with a fresh new batch of songs and a steadfast sense of unity, we feel we are ready to show the world what we have been working on as we prepare to record our first EP with revered producer and engineer, Kevin Houston (North MS Allstars, Lucero, Patty Griffin, Ana Popovic), this year.
Southern Avenue is made up of award winning, Israeli born guitarist, Ori Naftaly, vocal powerhouse, Tierinii Jackson, and her younger sister, Tikyra Jackson, on drums.
Ori Naftaly won "2013 best blues band" in Israel and came to Memphis, TN to compete at the International Blues Challenge on Beale St. Naftaly reached the 2013 IBC semi finals and sold th largest number of CD's ever in the competition's history. That year, Naftaly gained international recognition and support by the blues community and by an extended fan base, by way of extensively touring the US and Holland, and his recordings circulating around the world by radio. His former band, The Ori Naftaly Band, immediately took the blues world by storm, with over 400 shows in over 42 states, including headlining appearances at some of the most well-regarded blues festivals in the country. There, Naftaly shared the stage with some of the best acts in the business, such as Tab Benoit, Ana Popovic, Bernard Allison, Shemekia Copeland, Royal Southern Brotherhood, Ron Holloway (The Allman Brothers), Marcia Ball, Danielle Nicole, and many more.
Sultry, raw, soulful, and most notably, powerful. That's Tierinii Jackson. Raised in the church in the heart of Memphis, TN, and beginning her singing career from childhood as the youngest member in the choir, this preacher's daughter developed the kind of spirit in her voice that can move mountains, and pipes that can blow the roof off a building. There's a hot, hot heat to Jackson's coolness in her impressively expansive range and the emotion that backs it. It's the big kind of voice that catches you off guard, blasting like a firecracker from her petite frame, as her vocals captivate the room. In her adult years, Jackson, who has been compared by critics to the likes of Aretha Franklin, Etta James, and Tina Turner, has starred as lead vocalist in several musical theatre productions, including "Dream Girls", "Spring Awakening", and Disney's "High School Musical 2", to name a few. Recently, she has toured internationally with Todrick Hall, including on his most recent musical venture, "Twerk Du Soliel", as well as with the Hybrid Performace Group, where the multitalented songstress performed as both a singer and dancer. As she continues continues to soar with such ease in her artistic journey with Southern Avenue, it is undeniably clear that there is nothing small about Tierinii Jackson.
Tikyra "TK" Jackson, is the younger, but no less talented, sister of leading lady, Tierinii. Don't be fooled by her age though, because when it comes to talent, Tikyra has no trouble "holding her own". Raised alongside her siblings in the church, gospel music was her first love and influence. Growing up in such a musically driven family and environment, choosing an instrument (well, in TK's case, multiple instruments) was just a natural first step; and it was at only 9 years old that she first discovered her drive and passion for the drums. With the encouragement of her family and able to hone her abilities as an active member in the church band, the younger Jackson sister spent hours upon hours a day practicing every possible rudiment and skill necessary to master her craft—which many would argue she has already achieved at the young age of 21. The precussion prodigy, now music business major at the University of Memphis, has continued to develop herself as an artist as an active participant in the university's marching band, The Mighty Sound of the South, and in the Memphis Tigers basketball season pep band at games. Tikyra, who was essentially raised amidst some of Memphis's best known artists, states that becoming a part of Southern Avenue and the opportunity to work with some of the city's finest talent, has re-defined and re-invigorated her love for music and performing. It shows. She makes you feel it.
Vinyl Music Hall
2 S. Palafox St.
Pensacola, FL, 35202