Swamp soul | SteamboatToday.com

Swamp soul

'Everybody can relate' to personal lyrics

Erin Gleason

— Southerners know how to spin a tale, and JJ Grey is no exception.

“When I write songs about a loved one, about my grandparent’s final moments together or my best friend’s addictions, it’s personal,” Grey said. “But that’s the thing, everybody can relate because everybody’s got a story.”

JJ Grey & MOFRO play tonight as part of Steamboat Springs’ Free Summer Concert Series, bringing the soulful sound of the South to Howelsen Hill. Joining Grey is guitarist Daryl Hance, who recorded the band’s first album together in 1994 under the name MOFRO – a reference to a lumberyard Grey worked at before becoming a full-time musician. Although the band’s lineup has changed since that original recording, Grey believes the addition of George Sluppic and Adam Scone stays true to the “swamp funk” traditional to the Florida native’s style.

“Everything’s a lot louder in the South,” Grey said. “It’s like life to the 10th degree; you hate things more, you love more – emotions are stronger.”

The band’s third album, “Country Ghetto,” steadily climbed the Roots Music Chart to No. 10 earlier this year. The songs on the album infuse gospel, funk, rock and blues.

“I don’t see much difference between different types of music,” Grey said. “It’s all just grown men singing about the world around them, telling their story.”

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The third album includes horns and strings, a first for JJ Grey & MOFRO.

“Nothing much else is really different,” Grey said. “The way I write the lyrics and music hasn’t really changed.”

JJ Grey & MOFRO have opened for Widespread Panic, Ben Harper, Galactic and BB King. The band now is touring on its own through late August.

“I figure that all you can do is be honest with the audience and let it fall where it may,” Grey said. “So far, it’s seemed to work.”

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