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Grey’s Southern roots stay front and center

JJ Grey performs tonight at Sandpoint’s Panida Theater.
JJ Grey performs tonight at Sandpoint’s Panida Theater.

Fans of JJ Grey’s smoky swamp-funk blues don’t have to make the trek to the Gorge this Memorial Day weekend to see it live.

While Grey, along with his band, Mofro, is a part of the sprawling lineup at the annual beastival, you can get a little slice of Sasquatch as they’ll be passing through Sandpoint tonight for a show at the Panida Theater.

More than a decade of touring and eight full-length albums into his career, JJ Grey continues to pay tribute to the South, while at the same time exploring a broader range of sound.

Released last month, JJ Grey & Mofro’s latest record, “This River,” finds Grey settling into the band’s refined lineup, which includes Grey on vocals, harmonica, tambourine, bass, and acoustic and electric guitar; Andrew Trube on multiple guitars; Anthony Farrell on keyboards and electric guitar; Todd Smallie on bass; Anthony Cole on drums; Art Edmiston on saxophones; Dennis Marion on trumpet; and Stan Lynch on auxiliary percussion.

With the addition of the horn section, Grey doesn’t get upstaged by the band, but rather the horns are interwoven to compliment his gritty vocals on songs like the self-deprecating “99 Shades of Crazy.”

On “Somebody Else,” Edmiston and Marion punch and counterpunch over subversive stop-and-go breakdowns. Trube similarly rides an old-timey horn arrangement while laying a scorching solo on guitar that soars without falling out of sync.

But at the end of the day what stands out most is Grey’s South-bound sentiments and soul-sworn testimony in songs like the Dixie-laden “Florabama” and the title track.

As a whole, “This River” is a collection of emotionally and musically complex songs about being your own worst enemy. 

Playing in support of JJ Grey & Mofro is popular Spokane indie-rock couples quartet Cathedral Pearls, featuring Karli Ingersoll (formerly Karli Fairbanks) and her husband Caleb Ingersoll, who are planning to open an all-ages music venue, The Bartlett, this summer.

Cathedral Pearls released a new full-length album last week. “Off My Chain” contains eight new tracks that were written and recorded as a part of the RPM songwriting challenge to produce a full-length album in the month of February.

Cathedral Pearls didn’t quite meet the deadline, but they liked the songs so much they decided to finish the album and release it digitally on their bandcamp page (cathedral

“Off My Chain” was recorded in the living room of Cathedral Pearls’ other half, Carrie and Max Harnishfeger, and possesses a more intimate aesthetic than the full-band feel of previous recordings.