JJ Grey’s latest labor of love is titled Georgia Warhorse, named after the resilient Southern lubber grasshopper. “Yellow and black, and tough like an old-school Tonka toy,” says JJ. “They seem so at ease with the world. Nothing seems to rile them. They’re in no hurry but they have a kind of resilience because they just keep coming back and I’ve always felt there was a lesson in there for me to learn.” Grey could be described in such words; his own career has grown over the course of a decade of winning over fans night after night.
As with previous releases, Grey meticulously demoed the entire Georgia Warhorse album himself on the various instruments in his own home studio he calls the Egg Room. “It’s named after the old refrigerator room we used to keep eggs in when my grandparents were in the egg business,” says Grey. “Once I’m done with the demos, then I start thinking about hitting the real studio.”
Armed with eleven new original songs including one co-written with songwriting icons Chuck Prophet and Angelo Petraglia (Kings of Leon), Grey and long-time friend and producer Dan Prothero hit the “real” studio, Jim Devito’s Retrophonics in St. Augustine, Florida, to begin tracking Georgia Warhorse. There, Grey would again track the majority of the instruments himself, playing guitars, keys, harmonica and delivering all the vocals with his gritty, straight-from-the-soul voice. Prothero’s approach as producer and Retrophonics’ unvarnished, natural sound mirrors Grey’s vision of musical tones and his love of the rustic Florida backwoods, where his family has lived for generations.
Joining him for a track on this album is Grey’s long-time musical hero and reggae icon Toots Hibbert, who sings with Grey on “The Sweetest Thing.” “Toots is the greatest soul singer I’ve ever heard and one of my biggest influences,” says Grey. Georgia Warhorse also provided the opportunity for Grey to work with another friend and hero, fellow Jacksonvillian Derek Trucks. In true neighborly fashion, Trucks stopped by JJ’s house to record slide guitar for the song “Lullaby.” “Derek Trucks is the greatest guitarist I’ve ever seen and I’m honored to have Derek and Toots on my record,” says Grey.