JJ Grey & MofroSouthern RockFrom his early days playing cover music behind chicken wire at a west side Jacksonville juke joint while still working at a lumberyard, to playing sold-out shows at some of the largest venues and music festivals in the world, JJ Grey has always delivered his soul-honest truths. Since his first album, Blackwater, back in 2001, Grey has been releasing deeply moving, masterfully written, funkified rock and front porch Southern soul music.
Now, with Olustee – his tenth album and first in eight years, and the first he has self-produced – Grey is back, singing his personal stories with universal themes of redemption, rebirth, hard luck, and inner peace. With his music, Grey also celebrates good times with friends, oftentimes mixing the carnal with the cerebral in the very same song. Fueled by his vividly detailed, timeless original songs spun from his life experiences, Grey’s gritty baritone drips with honest passion and testifies with a preacher’s foot-pounding fervor.
With Olustee, JJ Grey has once again pushed the boundaries of his own creative musical, lyrical and vocal talents, delivering an instant classic. Many of the songs are steeped in the mythical Southern stories of his ancestral Florida home and filled with people from JJ’s life. The songs are told through the eyes of a poet and sung with pure, unvarnished soul. Grey’s message is simple and strong – respect the natural world and always try to live in the moment. And never forget the importance of having a good time!
Cedric BurnsideElectric BluesThe blues is music for all time – past, present, and future – and few artists simultaneously exemplify those multiple temporal moments of the genre like North Mississippi’s Cedric Burnside. The Mississippi Hill Country blues guitarist and singer/songwriter contains within him the legacy and future of the region’s prescient sound stories. At once African and American and southern and Mississippian, these stories tell about love, hurt, connection, and redemption in the South. His most recent contribution to this tradition is 2022’s Grammy-winning Best Traditional Blues Album, I Be Trying, a 13-track treatise on life’s challenges, pleasures, and beauty.
“Life can go any kind of way,” Burnside says. With almost 30 years of performing and living blues in him, he would know.
Burnside’s blues inheritance, the North Mississippi Hill Country blues, is distinct from its Delta or Texas counterparts in its commitment to polyrhythmic percussion and its refusal of familiar blues chord progressions. Often, and especially in Burnside’s care, it leads with extended riffs that become sentences or pleas or exclamations, rendering the guitar like its West African antecedent, the talking drum. Riffs disappear behind and become one with the singer’s voice, like the convergence of hill and horizon in the distance. Sometimes they become the only voice, saying what the singer cannot conjure the words for. Across some nine individual and collaborative album projects, Burnside’s voice eases seamlessly into, through, and behind the riffs spirit gifts him, carrying listeners to a deep Mississippi well. There is mirror there in the water of that well, in Burnside’s music, that shows us who and what we have been, who we are, and what we might be if we look and heed.