JJ Grey & Mofro
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 at barbeques and in local juke joints, all the while developing a deep love and respect for the land and its culture. Grey’s original songs are 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 Grand Ole Opry comedian Jerry Clower. 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 with the AAA radio breakout single The Sweetest Thing.
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.
After over a decade of hard touring and five studio albums 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. JJ has played 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, 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 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.
The Seminoles, Timuquans and other Native Floridians harvested, boiled and ate the hearts of the Sabal palm tree. Steamed and served as a stew it’s a rustic delicacy similar to artichoke hearts and traditional cabbage. That essence of the “real” Florida is the basis for Swamp Cabbage’s inspirational archetype: a mish mash of genres boiled into a stew of mixed blues, jazz, soul, southern rock, Appalachian and even classical vibes.
Swamp Cabbage was formed in 2001 by veteran guitarist Walter Parks, who built an international career as the lead guitarist for Woodstock legend Richie Havens. Parks, who recently marked his debut as a solo artist with the release of his self-titled album earlier this year, formed the group along with bassist Jim DeVito and drummer Jagoda as a way to explore his southern musical influences.
Swamp Cabbage – using a guitar, bass and drum format — sounds like a southern rock band but “thinks” like a jazz, blues or classical trio. Harmonically, their sound is more complex than the blues. Rhythmically it’s akin to New Orleans jazz. Lyrically, they offer a comedic travelogue through Park’s North Florida upbringing, all complimented by his electric guitar style — a mélange of Scott Joplin’s ragtime and Jerry Reed’s bayou pickin. DeVito’s bass, barks like a tuba through a fuzz box, and is backed by Jagoda’s New Orleans funeral parade style drummin’.
With three self-released albums of original material under their belt — Honk (2006), Squeal (ZOHO Roots, 2008) and Live From New York (2010)—this summer the trio will release Drum Roll Please, a disc of re-envisioned, re-imagined and re-swamped 70s classics, presented in a way that only the raspy singin’ combo of fatback blues and trailer park funk can dish out.
Drum Roll Please was created in their signature three piece format, allowing every song to be loyally recreated live (with exception to one Hammond B-3 performance courtesy of Eric Brigmond of Donnovan Frankenreiter’s band). The title speaks to the risky nature of reimagining such classic tunes. “You normally hear the words “drum roll please” before someone attempts an act that others of better judgment would deem risky,” said Parks.
“On this record we foolishly endeavored to translate to a simple guitar, bass and drums format songs that had been originally recorded by orchestras or with tape splicing and sonic trickery of that sort.” Also featured on the disc is an old Gretch drum kit and rare mid-sixties Guild basses and guitars; a nod to Parks’ love of vintage instruments.
Swamp Cabbage is currently on tour in support of Drum Roll Please and their original music can be heard on the Discovery reality show American Guns credits, and on My Big Redneck Wedding, Man Vs. Food, Emeril Green, Extreme Pig Outs, Gene Simmons Family Jewels, Roadtrip Nation (PBS), Samantha Brown Passport, Amazing Wedding Cakes and Chasing Classic Cars.