JJ Grey & Mofro Red Butte Garden
Reviewed by Breanna Downs
Hard to believe this would be the second to last concert of the season at Red Butte Garden Amphitheater. But a cold evening wasn’t going to stop these fans from starting the final week of shows off right. After a long summer, we finally made it to JJ Grey & Mofro joined by Larkin Poe.
Grammy-nominated band Larkin Poe opened up the show last week, and they started the whole show off with a bang! The sister duo, Rebecca and Megan Lovell, brought a lot of confidence to the stage and were a perfect start to the evening. It was clear from the beginning that these two were destined to be performers. They had such a captivating way of commanding the stage! Despite the cold weather, both of them crushed it on guitar. People began flocking to the sides of the stage to get a better view of the rocking duo.
The performance created some instant fans. Kids were rocking out on some air guitars. I felt tempted to play some air guitar as well. The chemistry between the two sisters made me want to play right along. My favorite song from their set was, “Bleach Blonde Bottle Blues.” This song felt like the epitome of a blues song, while also serving some major Rock’ n Roll vibes.
The sisters are originally from Georgia and now reside in Nashville, Tennessee. Rebecca talked about how they were raised on root bluegrass music. Which makes a lot of sense. They represent the genre well, every song they played had so much soul and energy. One of my favorite parts of their performance were the solos during the songs. It was really cool to watch the musical communication happening within the band. All of the members were very supportive of whoever took on a solo. The band had an obvious bond, and it made the music that much better. Overall, I was extremely impressed with Larkin Poe’s performance! Ironically with a steep drop in temperature, Larkin Poe still got the crowd nice and warmed up for the main performer, JJ Grey & Mofro.
JJ Grey & Mofro
JJ Grey came out on stage with an immediately energetic presence, playing a harmonica. It was so cool to see how quickly he connected with the crowd. He commanded the stage, all the while looking right at home. JJ was crushing it on the harmonica. I don’t know many (or maybe any) harmonica players, but I can say with great confidence that JJ is the greatest harmonica player I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing. He made it look so easy, and the crowd was eating it up.
During the song “Sweetest Thing,” we got a taste of the band’s incredible improv solo skills. Each band member would take turns soloing, passing the torch as they played. Grey would cheer on each person as they wove their way through a solo, making it obvious that the whole band had a very solid connection. They were there to play some fantastic music and have a good time. As the band played, couples swayed together in the crowd and there was such a great atmosphere for everyone there!
JJ took a moment to talk about how much he loves SLC. He really fell in love with the valley during his first visit. If he didn’t live in Florida, he says would choose to live in Salt Lake. Grey mentioned that his family was jealous that he would be performing here, and made him promise to pick up some food from Red Iguana. I love the genuine love he has for this city, and I can’t blame him for it. Salt Lake City has some of the best crowds around! So good in fact, that they braved a very cold evening to support the band. I can not understate the chilliness of the evening. Temps dropped to 47 degrees! Which is a stark contrast to the blazing summer heat we had. The audience didn’t seem to blink an eye and still brought a contagious enthusiasm to the evening.
After hearing the funky and soul heavy song “Jookhouse,” we were surprised with a cover of, “House of the Rising Sun.” This song is one of my all-time favorites. So to say I was stoked to hear it was an understatement. The familiar organ line began, and the crowd erupted with excitement. JJ’s voice was so well suited for this song. I would have believed him if he said he had written this song. He has so much control over his voice, along with a lot of strength. I could imagine his voice would carry throughout the entire valley.
The rest of the concert was very enjoyable. I loved watching the ease of JJ’s stage performance, and the incredible talent of the band. I had never heard their music before, and I will for sure be adding their songs to my playlists.
After many chants for an encore, we were treated with a final performance of the song “Ol’ Glory”. JJ thanked everyone for coming. Just like that, the show was over. Overall, this was such a fun show to attend. It was my first time seeing a show at the Red Butte Garden. It was a perfect place to see JJ Grey & Mofro perform. I highly recommend checking out their music, and stopping by a show if you ever get a chance.