While the six-piece from Jacksonville, Fla. was technically opening for Johnny Lang, they brought a more captivating set, essentially stealing the show from the bluesman. From the first couple of cuts, which included “Circles” and “Georgia Warhorse,” Grey’s bassy voice, backed by twangy riffs and funky horns, projected with fortitude throughout the amphitheater. This was possibly the loudest show I’ve seen at Red Butte, ever.
Grey was loose of tongue this evening, which he is wont to be in concert. With drawl and all, he told stories between songs. He talked about loving Salt Lake City, saying that he tells his friends, “You gotta go to know.” He said that the band would spend their rest day in town, and he’d be damn sure to hit up Red Iguana (oddly enough, John Butler, who played the night before, also mentioned the mole aficionados). This tangent begat Grey talking about having a place as a sanctuary; his is a lake: Lochloosa in Florida. As such, he went into a sinfully good rendition of a tune with that name. From “Lochloosa” on, Grey put down the guitar—although he can pick with the best of ‘em—and danced and played tambourine when not singing. With his humble charm, bassy howls and deep Southern soul, he is a quintessential R&B/rock frontman. Longtime fans are often puzzled of why Grey took the limelight from when the band was formerly just billed as Mofro, and Grey proved last night that he is worthy of the attention.
Later in the set, before playing “Slow, Hot and Sweaty”off of their latest 2010 release Georgia Warhorse, Grey gave a little background. “You won’t ever hear me play this song in Jacksonville, Fla. because that’s the only place my mama will see my shows,” he said. This came after describing a scene where he listened to the album with his family in his car on the way to a strip mall. No one was paying attention until this particular song came on, then his mama “slapped [him] upside the head.” After his mama berated him, she looked for backup from the grandma, who was, to everyone’s surprise, dancing and grooving to the music. “No! Grandmas aren’t supposed to do that. (laughs) But my grandma saved me that time, man.”
At this point the rhythms were infectious and the crowd was out of their seats and dancing under the sun. And by the time the band kicked up Muddy Water’s “Got My Mojo Workin’” there were but a handful of attendees not getting their mojo on.
The hour-and-15-minute set ended with “Brighter Days,” a song that Grey said came after a down time in his life, a song that was about getting his mojo back. And, no doubt, the Southerner, backed by a tight band, helped the Red Butte audience do just the same.