Wednesday , February 28 2024
A Mofro show is something like a second coming of the Doors.

Concert Review: Mofro

Mofro, the creation of Florida swamp-soul singer JJ Grey and guitarist Daryl Hance, played an exhilarating, nearly two-hour set of what they like to call "front porch soul" at Southpaw in Brooklyn on Saturday night. The slow and midtempo speeds of most of the songs give Grey ample space to pull the audience in, much like Beck does at his concerts, or Jim Morrison did. Indeed, although Grey's powerful voice by turns evokes Marvin Gaye and Marty Balin, and though the rich, chugging music owes far more to New Orleans, Memphis, and The Band than to L.A., a Mofro show is something like a second coming of the Doors.

Like shamans, the charismatic Grey and his sinuous band build their modestly structured, unprepossessing songs into small volcanoes of emotion, with the audience supplying half the energy. It's enough to begin to restore one's faith in the vitality of live rock. With organist Adam Scone covering the bass parts (another Doors-like trait), Hance laying down simple but deep guitar parts, and drummer George Sluppick creating a wide, drawling pocket, Grey moves between guitar, electric piano and harmonica, playing simple lines and solos – nothing fancy, but like his singing, bluesy and elemental.

A Bo-Diddley-beat rave-up with a guest sax player, and a few other quick mini-jams, helped to get the blood flowing, but the slower songs carried the most weight, whether celebratory or sad. Highlights included "Fireflies" and a gospel-intense cover of "Do Right Woman," as well as Mofro's signature ballad "Lochloosa." The music contains a fair amount of lamentation for a rapidly disappearing world of easygoing Southern Americana, northern Florida style. But if a jaded New York City audience can respond so brightly to Mofro, then at least we know the human spirit – as exemplified by music, naturally – can't be developed out of existence as easily as can the land.

About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is Publisher and Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Music, where he covers classical music (old and new) and other genres, and Culture, where he reviews NYC theater. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at where he is on a mission to visit every park in New York City. He has also been a part-time working musician, including as lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado.

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