A screening of the new JJ Grey and Mofro live documentary Brighter Days will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13, at The Record Exchange (1105 W. Idaho St., Downtown Boise). As always, this Record Exchange in-store event is free and all ages. The first 10 people to purchase the CD/DVD combo at the screening will receive a signed JJ Grey movie poster!
ABOUT BRIGHTER DAYS
“The key to success,” JJ Grey recently told Relix magazine, “is just telling a story—there’s nothing else to do.” Grey’s ability to tell his thought-provoking stories with a mixture of swamp rock, raw funk, blistering blues and deep soul has carried JJ Grey & Mofro from the backwoods of Florida to concert stages across the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia. Singing with a passion and fervor directly influenced by his classic soul heroes, Grey’s deeply personal original songs are steeped in the rhythms of his native home outside Jacksonville, Florida. Grey comes from a long tradition of southern storytellers and, in that spirit, he fills his songs with details that are at once vivid, personal and universal.
Over the course of five studio albums and thousands of performances in the U.S. and abroad, JJ Grey & Mofro have become a “must-see” live band on the concert circuit. After over a decade of hard touring, Grey still spends eight months of the year on the road, bringing his music to his loyal, ever-growing, worldwide fan base, laying it all on the line with each and every performance. The New York Times praised JJ’s “balance of wildness and cool,” describing his music as “Southern swamp rock with undercurrents of Memphis soul…his songs chronicle ambiguous truths and unambiguous urges,” delivered by Grey’s “winningly uncontrived vocals.” Likewise, Billboard has praised Grey’s “world-beating blend of Southern rock, blues and Florida swamp soul.”
Fans of Grey’s devastating, fervent live performances have long been clamoring for a live DVD and CD. The wait is now over. The galvanizing power of a JJ Grey & Mofro concert has finally been captured on film and CD on Brighter Days. The 78-minute CD and 2-hour DVD were recorded at Atlanta’s Variety Playhouse in January 2011. The film, directed by filmmaker Spookie Daly, intersperses riveting live footage with band interviews and insightful commentary from Grey and others, recalling classic “rockumentaries” like The Last Waltz.
Shot in stunning HD and boasting 5.1 surround sound, Brighter Days finds JJ (vocals, guitar and harmonica) and his band — Andrew Trube on lap steel and electric guitar, Anthony Farrell on organ and piano, Art Edmaiston on saxophone, Dennis Marion on trumpet, Todd Smallie on bass and Anthony Cole on drums — swimming in and out of thick grooves and hot, funky riffs. JJ prowls the stage, ripping notes from his guitar, singing with preacher-like conviction, telling stories overflowing with organic truths, breaking down the wall between audience and performer. “I’ve always felt that music opens the door,” says Grey, “but we’ve got to walk through it together.”
Born into a family with generations-old roots in rural Florida, JJ Grey was raised with a combination of backwoods wisdom and old-school blue collar values. He heard music on neighbors’ front porches and in local juke joints, all the while developing a deep love and respect for the land and its people. Inspired by legendary musicians, including Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd, soul greats Otis Redding and Toots Hibbert, country stars George Jones and Jerry Reed, as well as by the street preachers and tent show revivalists who crossed his path, Grey’s music touches on classic soul, gritty funk, sweaty rock ‘n’ roll and front porch blues. His songs blend home-spun realism with undeniable swamp beats and R&B rhythms. Whether it is a narrative passed down to him from his grandmother or the tribulations of a childhood friend, Grey’s ear for detail rings through in true storyteller fashion.
Debuting in 2001 with Blackwater, following up in 2004 with Lochloosa (both albums reissued by Alligator), Grey steadily built an intensely loyal following. In 2007 Grey released his Alligator debut, Country Ghetto followed by 2008’s Orange Blossoms, further growing his already large audience. With the release of 2010’s Georgia Warhorse, Grey stepped further into the mainstream, making an album Paste described as “understated elegance…soulful and funky.” The Philadelphia Inquirer said, “Georgia Warhorse is warm and organic, with blasts of hard-edged rock, Memphis soul and gutbucket blues.”
Grey, an avid outdoorsman, is a dedicated fisherman and surfer and holds an honorary position on the board of the Snook Foundation, dedicated to the protection of coastal fish and fish habitat. He has written passionately and articulately about his love for the untrammeled environment of his north Florida home.
JJ has brought his music to countless festivals, including Bonnaroo, Wakarusa, Austin City Limits Festival, Byron Bay Blues Festival (Australia), Montreal Jazz Festival and Fuji Rock (Japan). Over the course of his career, Grey has shared stages with the likes of B.B. King, The Allman Brothers Band, Widespread Panic, Galactic, The Black Crowes, Los Lobos, Jeff Beck, Ben Harper, Lenny Kravitz, Booker T. Jones, Mavis Staples and many others. In 2011 the band invaded the UK, leaving blissful fans and overwhelming praise in their wake. Also in 2011, Grey embarked on his first-ever solo tour, playing packed-to-capacity clubs, getting more personal and up close with his audience.
Grey’s songs have appeared in film and on network and cable television programs including House, Flashpoint, Crash, Friday Night Lights, The Deadliest Catch, and the film The Hoot. In November 2009, JJ 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 a song (The Wrong Side) to Buckwheat Zydeco’s Grammy-winning Alligator album Lay Your Burden Down.
Both as a film and a live concert CD, Brighter Days perfectly captures Grey’s power as a writer, his passion as a vocalist, his spontaneous, potent guitar and harmonica playing, and his mesmerizing stage presence. As old fans know well and new ones keep discovering, a JJ Grey & Mofro show is a joyous musical celebration shared between Grey and his audience, with each driving the other to greater heights. With Brighter Days and an overflowing tour schedule, the bond between Grey and his fans grows deeper as JJ Grey’s future looks brighter and brighter with each passing day.