Two hours after our interview with JJ Grey (interview, see http://www.bluesmagazine.nl/interview-jj-grey), and just after a hearty meal in the restaurant next door, we are back to Bittersweet, now in the row which was formed for the concert of JJ GREY & MOFRO. Press so, a sold out crowd, nothing wrong with that! I did not expect anything else, because the gentlemen from Florida, USA has a large loyal fans gathered around, who have long to wait for the return of the band to the Netherlands .. Inside, the atmosphere is pleasant, there is a very diverse audience with young people and older people, from all corners of the country. There are also many notable Americans in the room, and after some talking, I realized that JJ Grey considerable reputation in his own country.
Neat at 21.00 pm, the band announced and the men walk one by one onto the stage. And yes, that stage, a bit on the small side for Mofro, it is fitting and measuring. Too bad the horn a bit out of sight and krapjes in the corner. Just so that men can dance show and a nice piece drop.
JJ begins with the slow, but oh so sultry "A Woman", and immediately responds to this and the audience sings along. And that has put the trend, because that is surely what strikes this evening: the audience wants and can all texts literally, sing along! In "Air" Art, we see a great sax solo put away, and for me it definitely tastes like more. Beautiful songs come over, and JJ does his best to the audience in the right mood. The run is with some slow songs, too bad yet that part of the audience can not resist, loud and extended, with each day through it. It is the band is not completely at full speed, I feel, the whole looks a bit dull. Fortunately dullness disappears completely in "Georgia Warhorse" where guitarist Andrew Trube giving away a blistering solo on his lap steel guitar .... The whole sounds nice funky and soulful, especially if JJ between the public speaks with its warm, southern voice. In "Sweetest Thing", released as a single, the public really loose, and the evening continued at full speed. JJ is a passionate storyteller, and feels at home here as frontman, but not overly present. He does however have enough space for his great band Mofro, experienced musicians who each have earned their spurs, and him for several years in this composition guide.
JJ's voice is unmistakable, strong, warm and soulful, he also plays in a good piece of guitar, harmonica and Ping He also went along on the keyboard of Anthony Farrell.
In the provocative "Slow, hot and sweaty" we get a rousing trumpet solo presented by Dennis Marion, who also remarkably cranky all night watching. Gradually, the temperature in Bittersweet and as the swinging "Ho Cake" bassist Todd Smallie and drummer Anthony Cole show their abilities, it becomes really sweaty! Followed by a real battle between wind and Art Dennis, who whipped up by JJ himself. What energy is thereby Fri And that lasts until the end, with the last song the beautiful "Lochloosa", yet one of the most beautiful songs of JJ Grey.
When the band leaves the stage and the audience in high spirits to leave, everyone already knows that there comes an encore. And that is the title song of the CD / DVD "Brighter Days" followed by "On Fire", with JJ on smooth way he tells how that song came about (thanks to his father ...). The audience enjoys it and shouts loudly.
After 2 hours playing it over, and somewhat overwhelmed by the aura and charisma of JJ and the band, I get after a cooling watertje but still the door, on the way home. It was a sweltering evening ...
JJ GREY INTERVIEW - MARCH 16 - Bittersweet - AMSTERDAM
By Nineke Loedeman i.s.m. Jan van Eck
It's been a few years ago that JJ Grey and his band Mofro did to our country for some concerts. Tonight they are in a Bittersweet sold in Amsterdam, on the occasion of the release of the live CD / DVD Brighter Days, released in September last
This "country boy" from Jacksonville, Florida has a very large crowd of loyal fans, at home in the U.S. but certainly in Europe, Canada, Japan and Australia. His music is described as swamp funk, blues, southern R & B with a rocky edge, soul or whatever you call it, and it's all true. I am delighted to these "soulman" to meet him a few questions eg about his new album. We meet at Bittersweet, prior actions ...
Hello John, it's a long time ago, I think 5 or 6 years that you have been here. Now finally back with a tour in Europe, how are you?
It is certainly a long time ago and yes, it's very good. We were occupied for many years to come back to Europe, but it was there but not. It is the last time very well like and now we plan to make a bit more regularly this way to come. If it is possible to have even perhaps at the end of this year. ..
You have in 11 years time 6 albums, the last Brighter Days a live album, with a DVD. Was now the right time for this?
Oddly enough, this album by chance. It all started with a friend of mine who wanted to make a kind of short documentary about myself and where I come from. We did and that footage is something such as used by the record company. Later he also wanted a show of our filming and eventually he came up with quite a few cameras with all the trimmings to the concert extended shooting. The concert was great, location was good and then also showed that the sound quality was very high, it was decided to combine both a DVD and a CD. One thing led to another, and for the combination with the previously shot documentary record label Alligator Records gave the green light to it as a whole to spend.
Spooky Daly, the director, as a musician I have ever met, we played together and sometimes he is a good friend of mine has become. He had a few music videos, including Sweetest Thing for us and that cooperation did very well.
Brighter Days is a documentary and shows where you come from, where your roots are. How important are those roots for you and why do you want to show everyone.
I let that influence my roots, of course, already heard in my music, my songs. Spooky also wanted to show the documentary. You can indeed wonder what it matters to all of that to show, but for me and my music is so obvious. I would like to make honest music that reflects where I come from, how I live and what I think. But I think that still applies to many types of music, it is often a reflection of a certain place and a lifestyle.
For me, this album shows very well see who JJ Grey has become over the years. You started in 2000 with Blackwater, where the song Brighter Days, was published. You live album contains songs from the past 12 years, and now known songs yet again different.
We all change, over the years in our lives. Of course the numbers do not sound the same as in 2001, but you also looks different than in 2001. It can not remain the same and I would not even want to keep the same, because then it would be a caricature of itself.
Everyone interprets a song differently again. Brighter days for example, feels differently now than when I wrote it. The text has not changed, but its meaning. It's like a book 10 years ago for what you've read the first time. Grab it again, then you read different things, feels other emotions. I love when I discover in life, through the years to change your feelings by experiences you have gained, it is up to you who you are.
You write all the lyrics of the songs, writes music all parties, making demos, you produce your mixes ... you're a control freak?
Well, at least I was, yes. I play pre indeed the parties of all instruments. If you write music is sometimes not easy to 7 people with the same goal, and in such a way that your vision is not disturbed. You still want to eventually own result to work and there's only one person caught between who wants something different and there might be a problem. Sometimes it takes a little long to find people who share similar values, but fortunately, I almost always had great musicians around me. Of course there have been some changes in the composition of the band, sometimes people go their own way and want their own thing. Understandably, sometimes difficult to handle, but ultimately the best for everyone.
Your band Mofro, is here tonight and Brighter Days also has done to you. How long you been playing together?
For some time we play together, Anthony is the drummer for several years with me.
Art and Dennis, the brass section, play with me since 2007. Anthony Farrell and Andrew Trube games since 2-3 years in the band but also play together in the band The Greyhounds. Todd Smallie there since 1 ½ years. They are all true professionals with great experience and the track anyway. Musically we are on a line and I can really rest assured them.
What are your musical influences been?
Actually I listened to all types of music that was available then. As a child I listened to music cassettes and LPs from my father, with all kinds of country music, but also rock, soul, blues and R & B. Not that that was my parents, because they found they no music for children. As I grew older, they were something easier. But through my older sister, I got to hear music of Lynyrd Skynyrd and their album Gold and Platinum is one of my favorite records. But I also listened to disco music such as KC and The Sunshine band.
If you would have the time, whose concert you would like to attend, what kind of music do you like yourself?
I love Toots Hibbert, the soul singer who sings on "Sweetest Thing". His music takes me really mad, and I'm a fan of Buddy Guy and Tom Waits. Who I really find it, Sade. I was recently in a show of her and it was really phenomenal. Her voice is still great and she still has a fantastic appearance. I would like to again go if I have the chance.
A favorite song of mine Lullaby, the album Georgia Warhorse, with a great guitar part of one of the world's best players: Derek Trucks. How did this collaboration come about ...
Derek and I knew each other only superficially, we came together naturally occasionally at festivals. We've played together several times and once suggested that it would be nice to do something together to record. Coincidentally, he and his wife live in Jacksonville Susan Tedeschi, not far from me. But whenever Derek was home, I was on the road, and vice versa. Eventually there was a moment I had a beautiful song and called him asking if he wanted to do something with. We have directly planned and recorded in the studio of Derek and Susan. Within a take it looked perfect, with wonderful results. Yes, Derek is a phenomenal guitarist, a man who sings with his guitar, instead he plays it.
Can you tell me about your plans next year? Is there a new album in the making?
Yes, there are at least planning to come back to Europe by the end of this year. But that is still very uncertain. After we have completed this tour, I go home to work with anything and everything, overdue things, writing music and touring. Eventually I hope to bring a new album early next year.
Thanks for the interview, good luck tonight at the concert and I hope to see you again soon in the Netherlands.