Last Friday night the Sapphire Super Club
served up a plate of southern fried funk as Fog City recording artist Mofro brought their "Southern Style Swamp Funk" to downtown Orlando, Florida.
Mofro "feels a deep affection for Southern flavors of r&b, funk, and blues,"
and you can hear it in their music. Mofro's early influences include Muddy
Waters, Otis Redding, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Howlin' Wolf, and the
"original swamp funk stylist" Jerry Reed (known throughout country music as
the guitar man). The slide guitar stylin's of Darryl Hance reflected these musical influences.
Mofro consists of John "JJ" Grey on guitar and vocals, Darryl Hance on
guitar, French bassist Fabrice Quentin layin' down funly bass lines,
Australian born Nathan Shepherd on keys and saxophone, and the newest member
of the band Ms. B. Gayle on drums (but not on the record "Blackwater"). New to the
band as of April, Ms. B was holding it all together with her subtle drum
fills. I liked her style. This group of players has personality and gives
the band a style all their own. If you like the bluesy, funky, soulful
sounds of Ron Levy, North Mississippi Allstars, or Robert Bradley's
Blackwater Surprise, you will love the Florida Cracker Funk stylin's of
The band started the evening off with the title track from their new album
"Blackwater" before slipping into the very soulful "Air." This song, heavy
on the r&b flava', features the arousing keyboard skills of Nathan Shepherd.
Next on the play list was "Santa Clause True Love and Freedom". This song
starts out as a mellow jam that soon drops into a heavy funk jam. Nathan's
fingers were dancing across the keys as JJ was jamming a solo on his
guitar/voice box. His solo was ripping and brought to my mind a picture of
Peter Frampton on stage sitting on a hay bale with a straw sticking between
his teeth. When they finished this tune, I looked into the crowd to notice
people wiping from their chin the southern fried funk they had just been
served. "Florida", a song about the home state of Mofro, followed. This
song has a GREEN meaning behind it. It is a song about the never-ending
land rape that continues in our state. JJ says "Soon even remote places in
Florida will be gone forever, replaced by golf courses and country clubs.
Music takes me back to those places. It takes me back to the past where I
can live, breathe and remain sane." The song "Florida" echoes his
A summer time song called "Lazy Fo Aker" was next , followed by a song about a
favorite subject of mine, food. What would southern fried funk be without a
song about fried soul food? "Ho Cake" is a song that pays tribute to the
always favorite pan-fried corn bread and turnip greens. This song brought
back memories of my granny standing in the kitchen cookin' up some pan bread
on the stove. This is about the time that Nathan grabbed his sax and
to wail. I was impressed by his ability, and when the song was over I was
salivating for more sax. More sax would happen, but not until the end of
the show. "Down at the Jook House" was next, followed by "Dirt Floor
Cracker." The style of these songs is in their titles. They were songs
you would expect to hear in a jook (a.k.a. juke) joint. Darryl was playing slide
as Fabrice was layin' down a funky Juke style bass line. Far from the Florida
swamps, they looked and sounded "at home" in the big city with their big
sound. The song "Movin' On" was next followed by the last song of the
evening "Gotta Know." "Gotta Know" reminded me of a love ballad. "Gotta
Know" is very soulful; a song that makes you want to dance close to that
someone special. Nathan's sweet sounding sax stylin's were featured again.
This guy was most impressive with his versatility on keys and sax. The
bands sound was amazing and left me wanting more.