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J.J. Grey is still on a learning curve

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Sunday, January 15, 2012

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What did JJ Grey learn from filming the documentary that accompanies his live album “Brighter Days”?

“The biggest thing I figured out is I haven’t figured anything out,” the 44-year-old singer, guitarist, harmonica player and leader of the Jacksonville, Fla., band Mofro says with a laugh. “Figuring something out is just an idea you have — and it could be right. But that still doesn’t mean you’ve figured anything out.

“There’s a million different ways of looking at things, I guess. Every day one new little thing comes along, and it could seem so insignificant but later on you reflect on it and it can hit you like a bombshell. As long as I’m alive, I guess that always will happen.”

“Brighter Days,” meanwhile, captures Grey and Mofro doing what they do best — playing their loose-limbed, funky and rootsy material in front of a crowd, in this case at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta a year ago. Director Spookie Daly subsequently got ahold of Grey and others, including Derek Trucks and Alligator Records chief Bruce Iglauer, to add between-song commentary and perspective to the group’s career.

But Grey hasn’t immersed himself in that bigger picture. “I haven’t really watched it,” he says with a laugh. “I’ve seen it all fragmented, but I haven’t sat down to watch the whole thing from start to finish. And that’s OK.

“It’s always weird seeing yourself or hearing yourself talk. We hear ourselves talk and see ourselves in the mirror every day, but we still don’t know what we really sound like or what we look like. And then it’s on film, and you’re like, ‘Wow ...’ It’s sort of surreal, honestly. That’s why I don’t really listen to any of the records I’ve done too much or look at the DVD or listen to the live show. I have to live with that guy every day. That’s enough, you know?”

JJ Grey & Mofro, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sounds and Daryl Hance perform Sunday at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18. Call 248-544-3030 or visit www.themagicbag.com.

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