JJ Grey & Mofro
With little support from mainstream radio and television, JJ Grey has built a large following that goes absolutely bananas for his retro-flavored fusion of Southern soul, swamp rock, rural blues and shag-tinged country. The husky growler is so earthy, so "authentic" that he's basically Tony Joe White 2.0 -- which, of course, is a huge compliment. Along with Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, Grey has helped re-inject the American blues scene with energy and grit. It shouldn't come as any surprise that Grey is a real-deal Southerner from Jacksonville, Fla., the same town that gave us the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd. While holding down a job as an air-conditioning repairman, the musician put together Mofro and started gigging around the South. For a spell in the mid-1990s, Grey and his band called the U.K. home, but they eventually returned to the States after the deal they had signed with a British label fell through. Back home, Grey released two albums with San Francisco's Fog City label before signing with the mighty blues imprint Alligators Records. His records sell on the strength of his powerful live show, which more than a few critics have fawned over.