Born into a family with generations-old roots in rural Florida outside Jacksonville, JJ Grey was raised with a combination of backwoods wisdom and old-school blue-collar values. Coming from a long tradition of southern storytellers Grey’s original songs are inspired by legendary musicians, including Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd, soul greats Otis Redding and Toots Hibbert, country stars George Jones and Jerry Reed, as well as by Grand Ole Opry comedian Jerry Clower. Whether it is a narrative passed down to him from his grandmother or the tribulations of a childhood friend, Grey’s ear for detail rings through in true storyteller fashion.
Debuting in 2001 with Blackwater, following up in 2004 with Lochloosa (both albums reissued by Alligator), Grey steadily built an intensely loyal following. In 2007 Grey released his Alligator debut, Country Ghetto, followed by 2008’s Orange Blossoms, further growing his already large audience. With the release of 2010’s Georgia Warhorse, Grey stepped further into the mainstream with the AAA radio breakout single The Sweetest Thing.
Grey, an avid outdoorsman, is a dedicated fisherman and surfer and holds an honorary position on the board of the Snook Foundation, dedicated to the protection of coastal fish and fish habitat. He has written passionately about his love for the untrammeled environment of his north Florida home.
Brighter Days is Grey’s first-ever live DVD/CD. The two-disc set includes a full-length movie and a live album. Directed by filmmaker/musician Spookie Daly (whose work has been aired on MTV Networks, Much Music and Fuse), the film intersperses concert footage with the Grey’s north Florida home, the inspiration for so much of his music. The film also follows Grey and company into the studio and features band interviews along with commentary from Grey and others, recalling the format of classic “rockumentaries.” The accompanying CD captures almost eighty minutes of crowd favorites taken from the night’s performances.
Shot on January 22, 2011 at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, Georgia in HD and 5.1 surround sound, Brighter Days finds JJ (vocals, guitar and harmonica) and his band — Andrew Trube on lap steel and electric guitar, Anthony Farrell on organ and piano, Art Edmaiston on saxophone, Dennis Marion on trumpet, Todd Smallie on bass and Anthony Cole on drums. Singing and telling stories with preacher-like conviction, JJ breaks down the wall between the audience and the performer. “I’ve always felt that music opens the door,” says Grey, “but we’ve all got to walk through it together.”
Grey’s songs have appeared in film and network and cable television programs including House, Flashpoint, Crash, Friday Night Lights, The Deadliest Catch and the film The Hoot. In November 2009, JJ wrote his first film score for the critically acclaimed, Emmy Award-winning documentary The Good Soldier that appeared in theatres and on Bill Moyers Journal on PBS. In 2010, Grey played piano, sang and contributed a song (The Wrong Side) to Buckwheat Zydeco’s Grammy-winning Alligator album Lay Your Burden Down.
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