JJ Grey & Mofro, Backyard Tire Fire
Tuesday, April 17, 8 p.m., $14
JJ Grey & Mofro
Indy CD & Vinyl
Tuesday, April 17, 5 p.m., free, all-ages
The sound of the blues has expanded over the last decade. Those purists who were mortified by the “Great Caucasian Blues Renaissance” of the 1960s (Clapton, Mayall, Butterfield, Musselwhite, Bloomfield) will have their skull caps blown off by the likes of Backyard Tire Fire, the Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Chris Thomas King, North Mississippi All-Stars and Florida blues groovers JJ Grey & Mofro Tuesday at the Vogue.
The band’s third album, Country Ghetto, is on Alligator Records — the same blues label that introduced many to Koko Taylor, Son Seals and Lonnie Brooks. Grey says the label’s artists had an early influence on his music.
“I heard those albums, but I didn’t know them as an Alligator album,” he says. “They influenced me, but I didn’t realize it right away. I just like the music. It was an expression and culture. I don’t do a blues tune or a Southern tune. It’s just music.”
The band benefited from a radio feature on NPR in 2001. That led them to performing at Bonnaroo (twice), the Austin City Limits Festival and opening for B.B. King.
Grey says he was influenced performance-wise by everyone from the preacher at church (“especially when he went nuts”) to his friends (“you’re always performing”). Regardless, any reaction he gets is worthwhile.
“In different parts of the world, people either love what you’re doing or they hate your guts,” he says. “To me, it’s all blues. Bluegrass is blues. Gospel is blues. It’s all the same warmth, warmth, warmth.”
Matthew Socey is host of The Blues House Party, Saturdays at 10 p.m. on WFYI 90.1 FM