As the hands on the clock stage left at the Lincoln Theatre struck eight, Cris Jacobs casually strapped on his Fender Telecaster and took his place on stage accompanied by his three-piece band. "Jack The Whistle And The Hammer", from his debut album Dust To Gold (2016), ignited the evening and set the tone for what would be a night of passionate, blues infused, and soul-tinged rock and roll.
Hailing from the Charm City, aka Baltimore, MD, the soft spoken and laid back Jacobs kept the audience captive with a mix of soulful ballads and hell raising, foot stomping offerings that elevated his 8 song set to another level. Also included in his set were two songs - "Under The Big Top" and "Rooster Coop" from his upcoming new release Color Where You Are to be released in April 2019. Once again pulling out his electrified cigar box guitar, Jacobs finished up with a high-energy, bass thumping rendition of "Bone Digger". Be sure to catch the return of Cris Jacobs to the Lincoln Theatre on May 9th.
With a full house of eager fans clamoring for more of the same, the house lights abruptly went dark as loud roars echoed throughout the Lincoln Theatre. Smiling as if he had just won the lottery, or better yet having a cold adult beverage on Lochloosa Lake, JJ Grey waltzed upon the stage wearing a grey suit and tie while playing an electric harp (harmonica). "How Junior Got His Head Put Out" kicked things off and laid the foundation for a unique and passionate lovefest which soon evolved between Grey and his devoted disciples.
Giving a shout out to his beloved daughter, Grey's passion for music and writing about things he holds dear to his heart shined in "The Sweetest Thing". This also produced the evening's first episode of Karaoke Night at the Lincoln in which young and old alike put to test their vocal and harmonizing skills. Upon glancing around the packed theatre and taking several mental photographs, it was truly amazing witnessing so many folks of various demographics brought together and having such a blast by the common bond of great music.
Blending soul, blues, rock, funk, and blue-collar country boy swamp music, Grey hit his mark with a setlist that included: "Every Minute", "Seminole Wind" (John Anderson cover), "Lochlossa", "Orange Blossoms", and "Ho Cake". Not only is Grey a very talented singer and musician, showcasing his skills on the guitar, harp, and keyboard, but this man can flat out tell you a story that has you wanting more and more. And please, let us not forget Grey's ensemble of musicians he had backing him in the form of Mofro. These guys are all excellent musicians in their own right and added so much depth and energy to the show.
Upon exiting the stage after "The Sun Is Shining Down", there was no way in hell that JJ Grey and Mofro were leaving this joint without an encore or two. "Brighter Days" launched yet another sing-a-long at the Linc as Grey and his cast of Mofro's materialized back on stage much to the delight of the sold out crowd. A very spiritual and soulful rendition of "Ol' Glory" concluded a night of incredible music and good times on 126 E. Cabarrus Street in Raleigh. Seeing JJ Grey and Mofro "live" is a must if you are a music junkie and appreciate music that soothes the soul.
- Ike Riddick
- Photos by Jerry Friend