From Surfing to Singing: Meet JJ Grey

Betsey Geier

Photograph by Jay Simon

The Windjammer is the perfect backdrop for this Florida-born musician.

“I love just singing on the beach. I’m a beach guy,” JJ Grey, frontman of JJ Grey & Mofro, said.

He grew up in Florida surfing and hanging out on the beach. For Grey, coming back to the ocean is like a recharge.

It’s a beautiful backdrop for a show, “with your back to the beach and the sea breeze blowing in,” Grey said. “The crowd at the Windjammer has always been fun.”

But Grey hopes for more than a scenic venue and a fun crowd.

“I just want to share an honest moment with the audience,” Grey said.

Ol' Glory

JJ Grey & Mofro’s latest record is Ol’ Glory. It’s a soulful blend of blues, rock, folk, funk, gospel, gritty R&B and personal, Southern-inspired narratives.

This record also has themes recognizable from his other studio albums. The songs are stories from Grey’s life.

“It happened just like all the other albums,” Grey said. “Over a period of time, songs just pop into your head.”

When he’s working on a record, he takes all of his material and whittles is down into a story that makes sense, “from beginning to end.”

The first song on the album, Everything is a Song, came to him when he was driving with his daughter.

“My daughter was a couple of years old at the time and she couldn’t really talk much yet. We were on our way back from somewhere and she just started singing. It was surreal. She was really singing and making up things that sound like words. It pulled me in so hard that it just felt like everything was singing,” Grey said.

That’s how it usually happens for Grey. The songs just happen.

“If I tried to make it happen, or force it, it doesn’t come out good,” Grey said.

He’s working on another album now, and while it will hopefully be out soon, Grey doesn’t want to jinx it with a release date. But, it’s sure to be filled with relatable experiences.

Don’t miss JJ Grey & Mofro at the Windjammer on June 28.