JJ Grey and Mofro, The Handlebar, Greenville, SC – 2/3
The South has become such an important part of the songwriting and sound of JJ Grey and Mofro that it felt appropriate to catch these guys live for the first time in the South in Greenville, South Carolina. The venue was sold out, but the place seemed comfortably full. The room was definitely intimate enough that the audience could really enjoy the stage presence Grey brings.
JJ Grey and Mofro have developed a strong reputation for having a southern rock, blues sound which is fitting, but seeing them live really showed their versatility. They opened the show with the slow moving, soulful “King Hummingbird” which featured Grey on an acoustic guitar with very little backing from the band. This was an interesting opener, but the tune was captivating and really got the crowd focused in. Mofro would crank it up though with a rocking “Country Ghetto,” which has become a crowd favorite.
Grey brought out the electric guitar for “Hide and Seek” as Mofro stretched it out for the first time with some solid guitar interplay between Grey and Andrew Trube. The crowd pleasing “Lochloosa” was preceded by JJ Grey explaining how everyone needs a Lochloosa to go to get away from all the “drama” as the rhythm of “Lochloosa” played. “Lochloosa” is a fantastic blues tune that has obviously been practiced plenty because Mofro nailed it. The title track of their new album, “Georgia Warhorse” would follow. This tune is downright gritty with solid vocal work from Grey. “Warhorse” has the potential to turn into a real rocker.
Grey and Mofro would slow it down with “Slow, Hot and Sweaty” which had an interesting R and B feel to it. “Slow, Hot and Sweaty” was a microcosm of the show at the Handlebar. The tune is slower and allows Grey to really show off his vocals, but it is also a tune that will get your booty moving. Think of Marvin Gaye with a Southern rock twist. “Slow, Hot and Sweaty” was a real fun tune that was executed very well. “Ho Cake,” Grey’s ballad about good ol’ Southern cooking opened up and allowed each member of Mofro to get out and solo.
JJ Grey and Mofro have been placed in the Southern rock box and rightfully so, but these guys really have a more versatile sound than one might expect. Grey can be gritty with his vocals, but he can also be soulful. Then there are times when he will be almost sensual. These different vocal styles require a band that can play various ways and still sound tight. JJ Grey and Mofro have managed to accomplish this while staying with their Southern rock roots.