JJ Grey & Mofro | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

JJ Grey & Mofro 

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On their latest, Country Ghetto (Alligator Records), Floridian JJ Grey and his band Mofro call up an image of the south that's defined not by geography but by a state of mind. Grey's scarred, churchy vocals summon spirits like Hank Williams, James Carr, and Janis Joplin--all of whom are nearly as famous for their troubled lives as they are for their music--over a blend of Tony Joe White swamp funk and willfully brain-dead blooze rock seasoned with fatback horns. The songs' hardened heroes don't cry into their beer: they cozy up inside their prisons-, be they physical, social, or psychic. Take the drug-crazed protagonist of the gritty blues number "Tragic," who continues to hustle his family and few remaining friends even as he sinks resolutely into oblivion. There's no heaven here, just a cul-de-sac at the dark end of the street. New Monsoon and Backyard Tire Fire open. a 8:30 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212, $18.50-$20.50, 18+.

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