JJ Grey and Mofro, The Stone Foxes to take stage
By ERIC SCHELKOPF - firstname.lastname@example.org
Blues on the Fox will serve up a variety of music, from the front porch soul of JJ Grey and his band Mofro to the blues-rock sound of San Francisco band The Stone Foxes.
The festival, which will be Friday, June 14, and Saturday, June 15, is the inaugural music event in the new RiverEdge Park at 360 N. Broadway Ave. in Aurora. Tickets range from $10 to $50, available at www.riveredgeaurora.com.
JJ Grey, who in April released “This River,” his fifth album for Chicago-based Alligator Records, will open for Dr. John at 7 p.m. June 14, prior to Dr. John taking the stage at 9 p.m. He considers it an honor.
“Funny enough, I ran into him at an airport once,” Grey said. “We were just talking, and he told me that he got shot in Jacksonville, Fla., where I’m from. I love Dr. John. He’s one of my influences. I’m just happy to be able to do it, and see people like that play.”
Grey has shared the stage with the likes of B.B. King and Jeff Beck, and has learned from those experiences.
“There’s a common thread between all of them, from George Thorogood to Jeff Beck, B.B. King and Mavis Staples,” Grey said. “They really immersed themselves in that moment, what was happening musically.”
In sitting down to make “This River,” Grey didn’t have any set goals.
“Those were the songs I kind of stumbled on,” he said. “They kind of write themselves, and I’m just sort of there.
“The one goal I did have for the record is that I wanted it to feel a little more live. But in terms of writing and arranging the material, it all just sort of happens.”
Although he has heard his music described many ways, Grey thinks that “front porch soul” is an apt description.
“Dan Prothero, the guy who has produced all my records with me, first called my music ‘front porch soul,’” Grey said. “And I thought, ‘That’s good enough for me.’”
San Francisco band The Stone Foxes will kick off the lineup June 15, taking the stage at 3 p.m. Drummer Shannon Koehler said the June 15 headliner Buddy Guy has been an influence on the band.
“We grew up listening to him and Muddy Waters and all those guys,” Koehler said.
The Stone Foxes in February released its third album, “Small Fires.”
“We did the first two records in our garage in San Francisco,” Koehler said. “We thought it was time to try a good studio for a full record. It was just cool to really be able to have the big fat sound that we were looking for.”
The album also gave him the chance to present his views about different issues.
“My passion is about social justice issues,” Koehler said. “I’m a pacifist, and so a lot of that shows up in the lyrics. And there’s a song about homelessness in San Francisco. It’s so prevalent there, and in all the major cities. We like to put on a big show, but if people listen more closely, they can hear sort of what we believe and what we are passionate about.”
The band is a family affair. His brother, Spence, plays guitar in the band.
“I only started playing drums and harmonica because he started playing guitar,” Koehler said. “When he started playing guitar, he wouldn’t play catch with me, and since we grew up in the middle of nowhere, there was nobody to play catch with, unless it was him.”