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Blackwater
 
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Blackwater [Enhanced]

Mofro , JJ Grey , JJ Grey & Mofro Audio CD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)


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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

MOFRO is led by singer / songwriter JJ Grey who grew up outside Jacksonville, developing a taste for raw grooves and living a life to inspire his soulful lyrics. Blackwater, Mofro's debut release on Fog City Records, maintains the label's focus on musicianship, fat tones and good times, deepened by insights into a place and culture that is slipping away with Florida's steady march to "progress".

Guest drummer George Sluppick (on loan from Robert Walter s 20th Congress) says: I feel like we've connected with each other on a very deep level... it's funky and groovin', like fried catfish and turnip greens... it's uplifting and spiritual, like grits and bacon... it's Southern to the core. My peoples!

Special guest: Robert Walter (Fog City recording artist and founding member of The Greyboy Allstars)

Reissued by Alligator Records (Oct 2007)

This is an ENHANCED CD: In addition to more than an hour of boombox-optimized barbeque soul, this CD can also be placed in the CD-ROM drive of most computers for a multimedia experience that a live video of "Ho Cake" (recorded in studio during the Blackwater sessions). It's got soul, and it's superbad!

Amazon.com

Florida's Mofro know you don't need a studio full of fancy effects to make a funky record. The act's debut CD spins tales from the Blackwater region around "front-porch soul," a stripped-down collection of bottom-heavy beats and hip-shaking rhythms. This is the kind of record G. Love should be making, a flawlessly tight package of funk, gospel, blues, and rock & roll fronted by singer-songwriter J.J. Grey. Although there are a number of instruments filling out the songs--slide guitar, bass, harmonica, keyboards, sax, and percussion--the arrangements all feel sparse enough to create an organic, authentic, easygoing vibe throughout the record. From the early Rolling Stones-esque blues of "Brighter Days," to the mouthwatering funk of "Ho Cake," Blackwater pays the highest respects to this area of northern Florida, both musically and lyrically. --Jennifer Maerz

Review

Florida's Mofro know you don't need a studio full of fancy effects to make a funky record. The act's debut CD spins tales from the Blackwater region around "front-porch soul," a stripped-down collection of bottom-heavy beats and hip-shaking rhythms. This is the kind of record G. Love should be making, a flawlessly tight package of funk, gospel, blues, and rock & roll fronted by singer/songwriter J.J. Grey. Although there are a number of instruments filling out the songs--slide guitar, bass, harmonica, keyboards, sax, and percussion--the arrangements all feel sparse enough to create an organic, authentic, easygoing vibe throughout the record. From the early Rolling Stones-esque blues of "Brighter Days" to the mouthwatering funk of "Ho Cake," Blackwater pays the highest respects to this area of northern Florida, both musically and lyrically. --Jennifer Maerz --Amazon.com's Best of 2001

This collection of "front porch soul and jookhouse funk" is very tasty, and not just because the band celebrates ham hocks and other Southern delicacies on "Ho Cake." In an era when people overdub and compress the soul right out of recorded music, producer/engineer Dan Prothero has managed to capture an organic, earthy sound that perfectly suits this band's sultry swamp funk grooves. This is particularly appropriate since singer/songwriter John "JJ" Grey seems to be a big fan of old-timey authenticity. His lyrics decry overdevelopment and the homogenization of American culture; he romanticizes the early days of his home state before "skyscrapers and superhighways [were] carved through the heart of Florida," while his band celebrates the American musical heritage of Muddy Waters, early Bootsy Collins, and other funk, blues, soul, and rock practitioners. Granted, some listeners might not share Grey's simpleminded enthusiasm for a time with "no car, phone, or electric light"; after all, there weren't any funk or soul records back then, and contrary to what Grey says, there was plenty of strife in the good old days. Also, Grey's Luddite tendencies didn't prevent his band from releasing an enhanced CD-ROM with bonus audio tracks, full screen video, an interactive mixer, and a virtual reality studio tour. Nonetheless, the music is exactly what you'd want from this type of project: firmly rooted in tradition but still sounding fresh and spontaneous. Grey's vocals find the right mixture of smoothness and grit, his harmonica playing on "Blackwater" suggests an otherworldly spirit haunting the Florida swamps, and while he doesn't have the distinctive off-center sensibility of the late Lowell George, for example, he does have a sense of humor; he even tells an amusing short story about dumb criminals on "Cracka Break." --Todd Kristel
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