Southern soul swamp rock in Vail Saturday
VAIL CO, Colorado
JJ Grey has always enjoyed the serenity of the Rockies, until he hits the stage.
“I’ve always loved it there because there’s something quiet about the mountains,” the Florida-based soul singer/songwriter said. “But, you know, the show is going to be buckwild anyways.”
Buckwild is just one of the adjectives appropriate for Grey’s brand of Southern soul and “blooze” swamp rock. Grey and his backing band, Mofro, will command the stage tonight as part of the Spring Back to Vail festivities.
The show also represents Grey’s own unique matriculation through the Vail music scene, which began years ago in the infamous pogo-ing venue 8150.
“I remember hearing about the bouncing floor at 8150,” Grey said, fondly and enthusiastically recalling the show. “We see them strapping down the equipment and we were like ‘Is this for real?’ Then the show gets going and it was like playing on a trampoline. I’ve never played anywhere like it, probably never will.”
Grey and Mofro progressed to the more traditional, and tranquil, Ford Amphitheater as part of the Bud Light Hot Summer Night series in 2009.
“The amphitheater was just beautiful,” Grey said. “Walking around there and that air, wow, just so crisp. But you’re breathing so hard it’s like you’ve been walking uphill the whole time. And then you have to go sing.”
Although a native of the swamps surrounding Jacksonville, Fla., the peaks of Colorado are always a highlight on the touring schedule.
“Colorado has always been good to us,” Grey said. “We’ve made a lot of friends over the years and seem to keep adding to the group. I’ve never skied and lots of people have tried to get me out there, but, hey, it can snow anytime there, so I guess we’ll see.”
Despite the differences in topography, one of the Floridian’s principle subjects will resonate with listeners across the Eagle Valley: a love of nature. Grey’s passion for the wild is easy to hear and feel throughout his song catalog that spans five albums.
Fans can also now gain access to Grey’s home in his “rockumentary” “Brighter Days,” which fuses concert footage with interviews and commentary from the creeks and backwoods that inspire him.
It’s a long overdue invitation into the world of a consummate singer, songwriter, instrumentalist and performer whose shows alternate from raucous to restrained and are best enjoyed with company.
“All these songs come straight from life,” Grey said, “and it’s a special feeling sharing them with your friends when you get on that stage.”
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