“I am hopeful for where I’m goin’
But I belong in the South
That was where I was born a po’ boy
Livin’ life like there’s no end in sight
Even so I’ve done without
Brighter days where did they go”
Several streets in Winter Haven will be shutting down for the bluesy swamp rock stylings of JJ Grey & Mofro on Saturday, September 7, followed by the 90’s inspired jams of Badfish a Tribute to Sublime with special guests, The Supervillains on September 8.
For years, Jessie’s Booking and Events Manager, Robbie Loftus tried to get JJ Grey & Mofro’s booking agent to take a chance on the venue. His tenacity paid off as this will be the band’s third time performing at the Winter Haven bar. Setting up events for swaths of people is something Loftus is quite familiar with. Coming from an event background on a pro wakeboard tour, booking and orchestrating gigs fits into his skill set perfectly. He enjoys what he does.
Known for his “blue-collared spirit over the bone-deep grooves of his compositions,” according to his website, JJ Grey has amassed millions of views on his performances on YouTube. Loftus described Grey’s sound as a sort of “Florida southern swamp rock” and said it’s not rare to hear someone playing “Lochloosa” or “Brighter Days” on the jukebox at Jessie’s.
The Jacksonville native’s stage presence is said to be “something startling and immediate, at times a funk rave-up, other times a sort of mass-absolution for the mortal weaknesses that make him and his audience human.” Videos of his live performances depict a soulful Grey crooning to an invested crowd of fans, immersed in the music.
Badfish a Tribute to Sublime was another big catch, excuse the pun, for Jessie’s. A bio for the group reads, “What separates Badfish from other tribute bands is that they have replicated Sublime’s essence, developing a scene and dedicated following most commonly reserved for label-driven, mainstream acts. Badfish makes their mark on the audience by playing with the spirit of Sublime. They perform not as Sublime would have, or did, but as Badfish does.”
Between their runs up and down the east coast, playing big venues in the sunshine state like House of Blues Orlando and Jannus Live in St. Pete, they’ll be stopping in Winter Haven thanks to Loftus. “That’s another one that we’ve been trying to nail down for a few years and it finally happened for us – we’re excited about that,” he said.
Each of the past two JJ Grey & Mofro concerts saw over 1000 people flock from out of county to rock out downtown. Throughout this jam-packed weekend, Loftus expects over 2000 people in attendance. These types of shows are an asset to the community, doing their part to make an economic impact says, Loftus. Folks come for the music and spend money at local stores, restaurants, and businesses while they’re here. Jessie’s currently has an application in with the county to allocate tourism dollars to help fund these pricey productions.
The ticketed events will be on Avenue A, facing Jessie’s with the surrounding intersections of Avenue A and 3rd Street closed off. Loftus says parking won’t be difficult to come by with plenty of surrounding on-street parking and the parking garage only a few blocks away. Loftus expects to have three food trucks over the weekend. Adler’s will be onsite serving up some of Winter Haven’s tastiest burgers and the other two food trucks have yet to be confirmed.
While you’re at the concert, be sure to check out Jessie’s brand-new sign – a neon double-sided Fender guitar sporting their name.
November 16 will be another weekend to mark on the calendar. Molly Hatchet and Someday Honey will be taking the stage at Jessie’s. The day prior to that show, Loftus would like to take advantage of the set up by holding a free-to-attend concert showcasing local bands. More information will be available closer to the date of the concert.
118 3rd St. SW