A whole lot of soul is coming your way this week, South Florida. We have J.J. Grey & Mofro playing at Revolution, bringing their swampy blues soul all the way from Jacksonville, and Harold Melvin’s legendary Blue Notes will be at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, making things sexy as hell.
Often when you listen to music coming out of Haiti, for those of us that aren’t familiar, it can be hard to pin down where all the influence is coming from. There are so many different elements that play out in the music and songwriting, it’s fascinating. With Harmonik and their 2019 album Respè, they move flawlessly through slow R&B to almost more of a Latin influence with a song like "Ou Detenn Sou Mwen." In Haiti, Harmonik is a massive force and the group should have plenty of room to grow in the U.S. There is a massive Haitian population in Florida, but also throughout the U.S. With the digital age came the proliferation of new and unique sounds that are having tremendous world crossover appeal and groups like Harmonik and so many others from Haiti are putting forth their addition to the world music lexicon. Haitian Compas Festival with nu-look, Kai, Enposib, and more. 11 p.m. Tuesday, December 24 at Cafe Iguana, 8358 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines; 954-433-8787; cafeiguanapines.com. Tickets cost $30 to $45 via eventbrite.com.
J.J. Grey & Mofro
I’ve been finding that in the past few years we are seeing a resurgence of soul and R&B bands getting more and more notice on the touring circuit. J.J. Grey & Mofro are a soul-filled rock-n-roll band out of Jacksonville, and the tones and vibrancy of their music is a call to the durability of Southern soul and R&B. Their last album, Ol’ Glory, was released in 2015 and is a testament to the drive of the band itself. Since the 1990s members of J.J. Grey & Mofro have been playing together and the band feels that their 2015 release was some of their best work. Songs like "Everything Is a Song" is one of those passionate, big-sounding records that fills your ears with joy and makes you feel the need to dance. Then you have songs like "The Island," a slower, passionate ballad that is steeped in Southern culture. It’s a song that talks about all the history and the past that is both remembered and forgotten. It’s about history passed down through the ages, about natives never found and hints left of their passing, and the slaves that had graced the shores of the South. J.J. Grey is an extremely visual storyteller that Florida is blessed to have. With the Commonheart. 7 p.m. Friday, December 27 at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-449-1025; jointherevolution.net. Tickets start at $32.50 via ticketmaster.com.
Local prog rock band Anyothercolor doesn’t just go hard and fast, they can jam too. Their EP Any Other Color, released this year, proves this. The track "Angel of Night" is a perfect example of this merging of styles. The record starts out with a very jam-band vibe, but once the switch-up happens, the song morphs into a harder, more distorted guitar track with an early 2000’s sound. With a song like "Something to Me," you hear that prog-rock background on full display and also a bit of pop-punk energy to go with it. There isn’t a ton of released music by Anyothercolor, but there is most definitely a place in the South Florida music scene for a band that can bring the jam-band feel that so many love down here as well as a knuckle-sandwich-level of punch from their alternative and prog rock leanings. With the Abominable Dr. John, Iron Young, and Royal Hearts. 10 p.m. Friday, December 27 at Poorhouse, 110 Nugent Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-522-5145; poorhousebar.com. No Cover.
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As the calendar counts it’s way to 2020, it’s important when listening to artists that are making music today to understand that young up-and-coming artists are building on what has already been. Neon Prayers is one of those artists choosing to build on the sounds that have already been established. His lo-fi electronic R&B has tones of artists like 6lack and James Blake. Neon Prayers debut EP, Glass, has all the distortion and ambiance of a well-placed acid trip if the acid trip was happening in a far-off future somewhere. Songs like "Drone" have an industrial feel that is unrelenting in its wind up at the beginning of the track. One feels like they are in a montage of Neon Prayers preparing for the rise of Skynet. With Sweet Max, 50 Shades, Lil A-Lik, EQ, Foolish Habits, and JRXSE. 8 p.m. Friday, December 27 at Undergrounds Coffeehaus, 3020 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale; 954-630-1900; undergrounds.coffeehaus on Facebook. Tickets are $10 via eventbrite.com.
Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes
I’ve often found that when we talk about the greatest contemporary music that has been made in the U.S., it would be particularly hard not to give soul and R&B the title. The influence that black soul and R&B from the 1960s and '70s has had on music being made to this day is something you can’t quantify. Harold Melvin's Blue Notes have been mentioned by countless artists from rock 'n' roll, R&B, and hip-hop as major influences in music. The Blue Notes are also where the world first got to know Teddy Pendergrass, with his unparalleled voice and songwriting. Songs like "If You Don’t Know Me By Now" are immortalized in the American pop music canon. From the group's soulful songs of love to records that dig deeper into the conflicted nature of humans, as on Wake Up Everybody ... and don’t even get me started on how amazing the hit "Be For Real" is. The Blue Notes have made records that stand the test of time. With Russell Thompkins Jr. and The New Stylistics, the Chi-Lites featuring Marshall Thompson. 6:30 p.m. Saturday, December 28 at Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW 5th Ave, Fort Lauderdale; 954-462-0222; browardcenter.org. Tickets start at $39.50.