Home Live Review Live Review: JJ Grey & Mofro @ The Fillmore Silver Spring — 4/13/24

Live Review: JJ Grey & Mofro @ The Fillmore Silver Spring — 4/13/24

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Live Review: JJ Grey & Mofro @ The Fillmore Silver Spring — 4/13/24
JJ Grey performs at The Fillmore Silver Spring on April 13, 2024. (Photo by James Todd Miller)

JJ Grey & Mofro’s fans in the DMV had been waiting a while to see the northern Florida roots-rock band. “It’s been a minute since we played DC,” he recently said at The Fillmore Silver Spring.¬†“This is the longest we’ve been out,” JJ said of their current tour.

The longer tour swing, JJ explained, was necessary to do the show he wanted to do, with a horn section and chorus of backup singers. “We normally do this at home,” he said, referencing Jacksonville, where nearly all of his band came from. He alluded to people talking about “JJ Grey 2.0”, but said, “This is the way it’s always been, since 2007.”

At The Fillmore Silver Spring on April 13, this show was worth the wait: It was a fantastic production, casting shades of the E Street Band. With his energy and charisma, Grey came off as north Florida’s answer to the Boss. And, like Springsteen, he has plenty of stamina: “We’re gonna play all night,” he said. They may not have played “all night,” but they did go for more than two hours, taking the stage at a quarter of nine and not leaving until after 11pm.

Grey, who grew up in a small town 40 miles south of Jacksonville, plays a grooving, greasy style of swamp rock descended from Tony Joe White, steeped in the blues of Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and RL Burnside, with accents of the country of George Jones and Jerry Reed. While the music is unquestionably southern, Grey differs from a lot of southern rockers in that he doesn’t really follow in the footsteps of The Allman Brothers. He writes tight, compact rock songs, and his band doesn’t go into extended, improvisational jams.

The show kicked off with “Olustee,” the title track of their recently released album, their first in nine years. Other tracks from the album included “Rooster,” “Top of the World,” “The Sea,” a cover of John Anderson’s “Seminole Wind,” and album closer¬†“Deeper than Belief.”

Watch the official lyric video for “Olustee” by JJ Grey and Mofro on YouTube:

After “Olustee,” JJ Grey & Mofro played “A Woman,” followed by “Brave Little Fighter.” Introducing that one, JJ told the audience he probably wouldn’t be making music if he hadn’t had a cool boss when he was working in a lumberyard who let him take time off to go tour. (The word “mofro” is a bit of a made-up language he picked up at the lumberyard.) Sadly, that cool boss injured his back and got hooked on Oxycontin for the pain, and, when he couldn’t kick the addiction, he took his own life. JJ said that even a gun isn’t really a way out; the only way out, he suggested, is to keep moving forward and struggling.

In addition to his new material, the show included several favorites from his back catalog: “99 Shades of Crazy,” “Starry Night,” the title tracks of his albums Orange Blossoms and Lochaloosa, “Lazy Fo’ Acre,” and “On Fire.” Several times during the show, JJ talked about his creative process. He doesn’t so much write the songs, he said, as he lets them come and he channels them. Grey finished the main set with “This River,” and, for his encore, did “On A Breeze” and “Brighter Days” to send the audience home on a positive note.

R&B singer and guitarist Judith Hill opened the show with a 45-minute set. It was a family affair: Her father played bass and her mother was on the keys.

JJ Grey & Mofro delivered for their fans with a high-energy performance after not playing this area in a while. Hopefully, the wait for their return won’t be nearly so long.

Here are some photos of JJ Grey & Mofro — as well as opener Judith Hill — performing at The Fillmore Silver Spring on April 13, 2024. All pictures copyright and courtesy of James Todd Miller.

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