JJ Grey & Mofro "99 Shades of Crazy" - The Missourian: Emissourian

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JJ Grey & Mofro "99 Shades of Crazy"

Over the course of six albums and a decade of touring, JJ Grey's grimy blend of front porch soul and down-home storytelling has taken him around the world and back again. Beating the streets on nearly every continent, he and his band Mofro have sewn a continuous thread of laying-it-on-the-line shows that move folks to dance and at times to tears.

JJ was raised in North Florida by a typically Southern extended family that valued hard work and self-reliance. This upbringing permeates his no nonsense approach to writing and performing and has given him an abundance of material to write about in his songs.

"A friend of mine once said that we're all characters if we're given enough room to be one. I guess I was lucky enough to be surrounded by people who had plenty of room cause Lord knows I know some larger-than-life ones. I've had a lot of laughs and good times with those characters. We've shared some hard times too."

These characters and JJ's own triumphs and struggles, make regular appearances throughout his lyrics. "Looking at his show now, it's remarkable to think how far he's come, and to realize the creative spirit and force of will it's taken to get there," says longtime producer and friend Dan Prothero. "But it's also remarkable to see him up there singing about the worst of it, and smiling a smile that has come from accepting the good with the bad. In recent years I think he's come to realize that the fighting stance that seemed to get him where he needed to go back then wasn't getting him where he needed to go now, and so he changed. Letting go and letting it all happen is at the heart of his creative process now."

"The best songs I've ever wrote, I never wrote. They wrote themselves. The best show I ever played, played itself and had little to do with me or talent. To me those things come from the power of an honest moment and I guess I'm trying to live in that power and not force life to cough up what I want. That power is always there whether I'm aware of it or not. Force is the opposite. It requires effort and comes at a great cost. The cost has always been my freedom to truly enjoy what I'm doing while I'm doing it."

April 2013 brings the release of JJ's sixth studio album, This River. Named for the St. John's River -- a centering point for his childhood near Jacksonville, Florida -- This River flows from freewheeling celebrations ("Florabama") to dark inner journeys ("Somebody Else"), from late night, beer-soaked testimonials ("Your Lady") to heartfelt ballads of the almost-forgotten ("The Ballad Of Larry Webb"), and ends with the title track and a singularly devastating vocal performance. With Dan Prothero at the helm as producer, JJ and the band once again returned to Retrophonics Studio in nearby St. Augustine, Florida and muscled out some of JJ's strongest material to date.

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