-Benny Warnick, A&E editor
JJ Grey never ceases to look joyful.
From his jovial demeanor in greeting fans to his ear-to-ear smile after his setlist expires, the JJ Grey & Mofro frontman continually acts as the social ring leader of his own musical experience. That experience, like the title track of the band’s 2015 album Ol’ Glory, is driven by the idea that “everything is a song.”
“I was riding back from Target with my daughter. She was real little and she just started singing,” Grey said during an April 13 interview. “It was the first time I had ever seen her making up and creating her own song. It took me by surprise, but it was like somebody pouring honey in my ears. Like everything started singing at once. And everything really is. Everything is a sort of frequency. Light, sound, anything that we can perceive is singing, and it just put a smile on my face to think about that.”
Grey and the band played a show on April 22 at Hal & Mal’s in Jackson, less than _____ after wrapping up a 27-day international tour. The show, hosted by local entertainment powerhouse Ardenland, filled the Jackson venue with lovers of Grey’s soulful, country rock sound and the funky blues elements that have made Grey’s music shine for over 20 years. In 2004, the Mofro album Lochloosa (and its hit song of the same name) set the band in motion to play all across the country and all across the world. Grey admitted that, though he feels a connection with everywhere he plays, he and the band continually enjoy their time in Jackson.
“Every place is a little different,” Grey said. “A show at Hal & Mal’s feels like an old school juke joint, dude. It’s full, and people go crazy from the beginning to the end. Where I grew up in Florida, it’s also a southern culture place, so it’s great to get to sing and play to people who grew up the same way that you grew up. Like we all speak the same language down here.”
That down-home comfort and connectedness reassures Grey that he and his six bandmates will make their way back to Mississippi in the near future, where life’s “glory” and the stories behind it can be expressed and understood in a unique, southern way.
“I remember my uncle hollering out ‘Ole Glory!’ at my grandmother’s funeral,” Grey said with a chuckle. “In that moment, I could just feel it. To me, life’s about the glory of living and the glory of being wild and getting to enjoy it and love it.”
For more information on JJ Grey & Mofro, check out their website at jjgrey.com, and look for more upcoming shows from Ardenland at ardenland.net.