Warning: The sounds of JJ Grey & Mofro may cause listeners to label the music.
Such labels include soul, funk, rhythm and blues or Southern rock.
After more than 15 years of recording and touring, JJ Grey hopes that whatever you call it, the music is all his.
“I hope it’s my own thing,” Grey said. “You do what you do, and your influences come out. The longer you do it, the more it comes out. You don’t try and make it something, it just comes out.”
The north Florida-based Grey and his band will play the Acadiana Center for the Arts in Lafayette at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
Louisiana listeners have always appreciated Grey’s own style of rock created in the Florida swamps.
“I guess swampy is swampy,” he said.
Beginning in the late 1990s, Grey wrote songs after years of listening to rocking country performers and soul singers — Jerry Reed and Otis Redding were among his favorites.
Whether rollicking barn burners or slow grooves, Grey creates earnest and entertaining songs. Some feature horns and organs. Others are guitar-driven.
“To me, music is a conversation,” he said. “The more you try to fake it, the worse it is.”
A well-known song, “99 Shades of Crazy,” is a rocker, telling the imaginative story of someone’s crazy lost weekend.
“Is this really happening or did I make it all up?” the song’s character asks. “I’m bound for Chattahoochee on a turnip truck.”
Grey’s newest work, off his “Ol’ Glory” album, is marked by the influence of his 6-year-old daughter, his youngest child. “Everything is a Song” was written after driving around with her as she began singing random, nonsensical tunes.
“I almost felt high for a second,” Grey said. “Everything seemed brighter and clearer.”
“So listen, listen to the falling rain,” he sings on the track. “As sweet of sound as sugar cane. A symphony for me.”
After nine albums, Grey and his band have established a fan base all over the country. They tour solidly throughout the spring and summer, performing at festivals nearly every weekend.
At some point, the band became associated with the “jam band” scene, where musicians are known to groove and improvise on stage. Fans of groups like Widespread Panic, the Grateful Dead and Phish took a liking to them, and JJ Grey and Mofro began touring the same circuit.
“I had never heard of a jam band,” Grey said.
While he never altered his sound to mimic these groups, he found new listeners, even if Grey’s band never fit the “jam band” stereotype.
“Maybe we are,” he said. “I haven’t figured it out exactly.”
No matter who he plays for, Grey said he focuses on giving everything he has during the performance. If he’s opening for a band, that means 45 fast minutes. When he’s headlining a solo show like the upcoming show in Lafayette, Grey tries to connect with the fans for a little while longer.
“I want to share an honest moment with everybody,” he said.