Monday gives us all the blues. But it doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.
JJ Grey is a perennial Red Butte crowd-favorite, hailing from Florida and bringing a big stage presence and a blues-rock sound driven by a powerful horn section. They’ve played everywhere, and are best known for their biggest hit, “Brighter Days” and a close second, “Lochloosa.”
Grey is a charming front-man, dapper with a southern drawl, a smooth demeanor and blaring harmonica. I last caught JJ Grey and Mofro at Red Butte back in 2016, and they play it safe, tossing just enough of the “swamp-rock” into the gumbo, to make sure it has some flavor, but isn’t too spicy.
The other half of Monday’s twin bill is Lang, who was earning praise for his guitar virtuosity before he needed to shave. The Minnesota native came up in that big blues guitar hero insurgence of the late 1990s, released his first album at 13, had a platinum album by the time he was 15 — remember “Lie to Me” — won a Grammy in his 20s and has kept jamming ever since.
That means for more than two decades, Lang ha
s been honing his chops. Lang gives the hat tip to the blues greats — B.B. King, Buddy Guy and so forth — but has developed his own sound, a little more refined and his own sensibility that has been evolving even more in recent years.
Yes, he still brings the dirty delta blues sound, for sure. But now he serves it up with his own flair. He dropped his latest album, “Signs,” in 2017, and the roots, blues and gospel influences were on full display.
Together, you know what you’ll get with Lang and Grey, a good helping of the blues sound and a pair of crowd-pleasing set with steaming guitar licks and smooth, hip-shaking blues jams.