Infinity Music Hall & Bistro
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JJ Grey & Mofro w/ Jocelyn & Chris Arndt with Jocelyn and Chris Arndt



Sat, March 02, 2019
Hartford, CT
Show: 8 PM

Ticket INFO

Member Presale: 10/22/18 06 AM
Public Onsale: 10/25/18 06 AM

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Blues Rock / Soul / Southern Rock
JJ Grey & Mofro w/ Jocelyn & Chris Arndt

North Florida sage and soul-bent swamp rocker JJ Grey is bringing his soul-sturdy outfit Mofro to our Hartford stage!!  These roads warriors have been bringing their blend of Southern Soul rock all over the world.  With larger-than-life vocals delivering tell-it-like-it-is lyrics and band that does not mess around, JJ Grey & Mofro sure know how to count it off and turn it on!! If you saw them last time, then you are well aware….if not… yourself a favor and be here for this incredible show!

JJ Grey & Mofro

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Artist Bio

From the days of playing greasy local juke joints to headlining major festivals, JJ Grey remains an unfettered, blissful performer, singing with a blue-collared spirit over the bone-deep grooves of his compositions. His presence before an audience is something startling and immediate, at times a funk rave-up, other times a sort of mass-absolution for the mortal weaknesses that make him and his audience human. When you see JJ Grey and his band Mofro live—and you truly, absolutely must—the man is fearless.

 Onstage, Grey delivers his songs with compassion and a relentless honesty, but perhaps not until Ol’ Glory has a studio record captured the fierceness and intimacy that defines a Grey live performance. “I wanted that crucial lived-in feel,” Grey says of Ol’ Glory, and here he hits his mark. On the new album, Grey and his current Mofro lineup offer grace and groove in equal measure, with an easygoing quality to the production that makes those beautiful muscular drum-breaks sound as though the band has set up in your living room.

 Despite a redoubtable stage presence, Grey does get performance anxiety—specifically, when he's suspended 50 feet above the soil of his pecan grove, clearing moss from the upper trees.

 “The tops of the trees are even worse,” he laughs, “say closer to 70, maybe even 80 feet. I'm not phobic about heights, but I don't think anyone's crazy about getting up in a bucket and swinging all around. I wanted to fertilize this year but didn't get a chance. This February I will, about two tons—to feed the trees.”

 When he isn't touring, Grey exerts his prodigious energies on the family land, a former chicken-farm that was run by his maternal grandmother and grandfather. The farm boasts a recording studio, a warehouse that doubles as Grey's gym, an open-air barn, and of course those 50-odd pecan trees that occasionally require Grey to go airborne with his sprayer.

For devoted listeners, there is something fitting, even affirmative in Grey's commitment to the land of his north Florida home. The farms and eddying swamps of his youth are as much a part of Grey's music as the Louisiana swamp-blues tradition, or the singer's collection of old Stax records.

As a boy, Grey was drawn to country-rockers, including Jerry Reed, and to Otis Redding and the other luminaries of Memphis soul; Run-D.M.C., meanwhile, played on repeat in the parking lot of his high school (note the hip-hop inflections on “A Night to Remember”). Merging these traditions, and working with a blue-collar ethic that brooked no bullshit, Grey began touring as Mofro in the late '90s, with backbeats that crossed Steve Cropper with George Clinton and a lyrical directness that made his debut LP Blackwater (2001) a calling-card among roots-rock aficionados. Soon, he was expanding his tours beyond America and the U.K., playing ever-larger clubs and eventually massive festivals, as his fan base grew from a modest group of loyal initiates into something resembling a national coalition.

Grey takes no shortcuts on the homestead, and he certainly takes no shortcuts in his music. While he has metaphorically speaking “drawn blood” making all his albums, his latest effort, Ol’ Glory, found him spending more time than ever working over the new material. A hip-shooting, off-the-cuff performer (often his first vocal takes end up pleasing him best), Grey was able to stretch his legs a bit while constructing the lyrics and vocal lines to Ol’ Glory.

“I would visit it much more often in my mind, visit it more often on the guitar in my house,” Grey says. “I like an album to have a balance, like a novel or like a film. A triumph, a dark brooding moment, or a moment of peace—that's the only thing I consistently try to achieve with a record.”

Grey has been living this balance throughout his career, and Ol’ Glory is a beautifully paced little film. On “The Island,” Grey sounds like Coleridge on a happy day: “All beneath the canopy / of ageless oaks whose secrets keep / Forever in her beauty / This island is my home.” “A Night to Remember” finds the singer in first-rate swagger: “I flipped up my collar ah man / I went ahead and put on my best James Dean / and you'd a thought I was Clark Gable squinting through that smoke.” And “Turn Loose” has Grey in fast-rhyme mode in keeping with the song's title: “You work a stride / curbside thumbing a ride / on Lane Avenue / While your kids be on their knees / praying Jesus please.” From the profane to the sacred, the sly to the sublime, Grey feels out his range as a songwriter with ever-greater assurance.

The mood and drive of Ol’ Glory are testament to this achievement. The album ranks with Grey’s very best work; among other things, the secret spirituality of his music is perhaps more accessible here than ever before. On “Everything Is a Song,” he sings of “the joy with no opposite,” a sacred state that Grey describes to me:

“It can happen to anybody: you sit still and you feel things tingling around you, everything's alive around you, and in that a smile comes on your face involuntarily, and in that I felt no opposite. It has no part of the play of good and bad or of comedy or tragedy. I know it’s just a play on words but it feels like more than just being happy because you got what you wanted — this is a joy. A joy that doesn’t get involved one way or the next; it just is.”

Grey's most treasured albums include Otis Redding's In Person at the Whisky a Go Go and Jerry Reed's greatest hits, and the singer once told me that he grew up “wanting to be Jerry Reed but with less of a country, more of a soul thing.” With Ol’ Glory, Grey does his idols proud. It's a country record where the stories are all part of one great mystery; it's a blues record with one foot in the church; it's a Memphis soul record that takes place in the country.

Jocelyn and Chris Arndt

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The ties that bind any siblings vary in strength. For brother-sister rockers Jocelyn & Chris Arndt, those ties are made of carbon fiber. “He’s my best friend,” says Jocelyn. “Maybe that sounds a little cheesy, but it’s true. And to be able to chase this shared dream with my best friend, well, that’s everything.”

And chase it they have, with honey-badger tenacity, from their first concert in elementary school all the way to their position as nationally-known touring and recording artists today. That determined spirit is stronger than ever on The Fun in the Fight, Jocelyn & Chris’s third full-length album. The title, a line of lyrics from the stomping, unapologetic “Kill in the Cure,” is also a reference to the idea that defined Jocelyn & Chris’s experience writing this record: “Things get hard, and it’s easy to lose sight of what you’re working toward. The best way to get through it is to find enjoyment in the struggle itself. You’ve got to find the fun in the fight.” They’ve certainly had their share of struggles; over the past 5 years, they’ve balanced hundreds of shows coast to coast with an aggressive recording schedule, all while completing studies at Harvard (yep, that Harvard). For these two, their greatest source of strength is their original music, fueled by their love and admiration for the artists in their parents’ CD collection who first inspired them all those years ago. In the Arndt’s own words: “The Fun in the Fight is our love letter to classic rock.”

The album opens with “Witness,” an explosive homage to the spirit of rock n’ roll. “We owe so much to the artists who came before us,” says Jocelyn. “We’re inspired by them every day.” The album continues as an emotional whirlwind, examining themes of self-expression, anxiety, creativity, and love in all its conflicting forms. Raw feeling and compelling storytelling are the common thread. Leadoff single “Outta My Head” is an exploration of the fine line between attraction and fixation, set to an infectious guitar riff and dark, escalating orchestration. Says Jocelyn, “We’ve all got something we can’t get out of our heads. It’s up to us whether or not that becomes a motivation or a problem.”

Jocelyn & Chris analyze these ideas with earnest ferocity, equal turns swaggering (as on “Sign” and “Problematic”) and vulnerable (look to the romantic, sincere “Things I’ll Never Know”). “Be That as It May,” a jammy, playful track featuring special guests Cory Wong of Vulfpeck and Gov’t Mule’s Danny Louis, is a celebration of indelible creative spirit. Chris puts it this way: “We love what we do, and no one can ever take that away from us.”

There are outliers too, songs that defy categorization. The deliciously weird “The Western” would be right at home in the soundtrack of a classic cowboy flick, complete with whip and whistle. “We started calling it ‘The Western’ before we had a real name for it, and then we could never seem to come up with a better name than that,” Chris laughs. The album’s closing track “The Weatherman,” a gentle, pining ballad with a decidedly 70s vibe, is also refreshingly unique. This is music for music’s sake, not beholden to algorithms or formulas.

Such a diverse record might seem overly ambitious if it weren’t for the sincerity of the Arndts’ performances. Jocelyn’s voice is a vehicle for unrestrained emotion; she whispers, she belts, she tells each story with penetrating honesty. Listen closer to her lyrics and observe a profound depth of meaning, especially evident in songs like the heart-wrenching ballad “Don’t Hang Up”: “I’m selfish and I’m sorry, there’s nothing you can do / And I should never share my darkness with someone as bright as you.” Chris’s guitar playing is the perfect counterpart, aggressive one moment and delicate the next, building tension to work toward a satisfying resolution.

With all this talk of maturity, it’s sometimes difficult to remember that Jocelyn & Chris are millennials with less than 50 years’ living experience between them. Their live performances exude an easy confidence, a skill they both attribute to years of practice. “When we were kids and we first started out, we’d play anywhere we could get permission and a power outlet.” says Chris. Jocelyn laughs in agreement. “It was this big joke when Chris finally turned 21, because we’d already been playing bar shows since we were in 7th grade.” Onstage today, Jocelyn smoulders with intensity, reaching frantically to the ceiling one moment and then folding herself onto the floor in the next. Chris exudes a less frenzied energy, delivering effortless riffs with an enigmatic cool-guy half-smile hidden behind his shoulder-length hair.

The familial resemblance is there, all right. So is a deep bond forged over years of shared experience. In conversation, they often glance at each other, fluent in sibling telepathy. A stark contrast from their fierce performance personas, offstage they’re both warm, humble, understated, and maybe just a little goofy. Ask them about music, however, and watch as both pairs of eyes take on the same razor-sharp focus. Says Chris, “We’re so, so proud of this album. We love this music, and we’re going to do our best to share it with as many people as possible.”

They’ll get their wish; the spirit behind The Fun in the Fight is undeniable. These two are analog souls in the digital age, proof that rock n’ roll is definitely not dead. In fact, it just got its Harvard degree.


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