Mo' Mojo
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Mo' Mojo

Akron, Ohio, United States

Akron, Ohio, United States
Blues Zydeco

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"Mo' Mojo's Energetic New Album"

If you’re a live-music fan living in the Akron or Cleveland areas then you’ve probably experienced the high-energy Zydeco romp that is Mo’ Mojo. The band’s garnered a reputation for good ole’ jam-band, Cajun-inspired fun.

Unfortunately with many jam bands – yes, I would consider Mo’ Mojo a jam band – something is lost in translation from live performance to recording studio. Even The Grateful Dead felt limited when restricted to the four walls of a sound booth. The spontaneity suffers. Mo’ Mojo, however, doesn’t fall victim to the confinement of the studio. The band’s latest album, “Together in Love We Drown,” liberates the Zydeco jam band’s sound and accentuates the finer points that make the band such a sensation live.

In case you’re not familiar with Zydeco, to put it plainly, it’s Cajun folk music that involves quite a bit of foot stompin’, accordion, fiddles and washboards. It’s a hell of a good time. The genre has recently made a comeback with a special category for the music at the Grammy Awards.

The album’s opening track (the title track), gives listeners exactly what they’ve come to expect from Mojo. A funky guitar opens the song, which quickly delves into an upbeat duet complete with brass, washboard and a rockin’ sax solo. The song conjures memories of The B-52s. The main sentiment here is that there’s “no limits to hold us down.” The band sticks to that philosophy throughout the rest of the record.

It’s an appropriate lead-in to the rest of the album, which, for the most part, continues upholding the high bar of the title track. The second song, “Mo’ Mojo Zydeco,” is exactly that: Mo’ Mojo playing Zydeco music. You get a sense that the accordion opening to the song comes directly from a traditional Cajun roots song, but who knows. Either way, Mo’ Mojo is convincing.

The momentum continues until the album’s halfway point with “Soul’s Day Waltz.” The band slows it down and, for me, it’s not something I was expecting. Though I did enjoy the track, it was something I found myself skipping over after my initial listen.

“Please” is another notable track. Jen Maurer swoons listeners with her straight-toned and liquid voice, accompanied by a tune worthy of a workingman’s whistle. “Please” stands in stark contrast to the rest of the album. Its simplicity is divine. It’s the point in the album where listeners will realize that there’s mo’ to Mo’ Mojo than meets the eye.

“Together in Love We Drown” is an album that showcases the many layers of Mo’ Mojo. On one hand, Mo’ Mojo gives listeners the best Zydeco romp music around, yet on the other hand, the band gives listeners contemplative tracks that show off skilled musicianship and attention to detail. - Buzzbin Magazine


"Mo' Mojo"

Mo’ Mojo is known for its engaging live shows that blend zydeco, the jam band spirit, and the rich musical heritage of its native Northeast Ohio. The Akron-based band, which in various incarnations has been active since the mid-1990s, recently released its debut CD, a polished blend of musicianship, passion and subtlety, long awaited by devoted followers and regularly sought after by emerging fans upon experiencing their first Mo’ Mojo show. Appropriately, the title of the CD is Finally!

Finally! leads off with "Acadiana," an upbeat tribute by Mo’ Mojo leader, singer/multi-instrumentalist Jen Maurer, to the band’s musical roots. From the opening groove laid out by bassist Darren Thompson and drummers’ drummer Rod Lubline, to lyrical solos by fiddle player Bill Lestock and guitarist Joe Golden, the track sets the tone for an enjoyable and cohesive 59 minutes of Mo’ Mojo originals, as well as covers in honor of legends Boozoo Chavis, The Meters, Bo Diddley, and contemporary New Orleans musician Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes.

Another highlight is "Ride That Train," with precision harmony vocals shared by Maurer and Leigh Ann Wise, and supported by textural harmonica from special guest Sam Rettman, evoking a bluesy journey that John Lee Hooker and Little Walter would have readily jumped on board with. In addition, "My Jolie," a pretty Cajun waltz and longtime Mo’ Mojo classic co-written by Maurer, founding member the late Scott “Texas” Gann, and former band bassist Kip Amore, is a heartfelt love song that transcends musical styles.

Perhaps the most powerful song is "I Know My Business Too," Maurer’s confident statement supported with soulful solos by guitarist Golden and saxophonist Davidione Pearl. By the last verse, as Maurer sings, “I’m proud to be a sister on the stage doin’ the zydeco, it once may have been a man’s place, but it ain’t gonna be no more,” the listener recognizes that Maurer isn’t merely bragging, and she isn’t asking for approval; rather, she is an artist stating it as it is.

Finally! is a studio CD that accomplishes the feats of not only capturing the talents of an all-star team of Northeast Ohio musicians, but also reflecting the personality of a dynamic live band whose shows are known as being full-fledged experiences. To longtime fans who have hoped for a Mo’ Mojo CD, as well as to those who are just beginning to learn about the band, Finally! has, indeed, been worth the wait.

--- John Gadd - Blues Bytes (Jan. 2011 issue - find us at the bottom of the page!)


"Zydeco Jam Band from the North Coast"

Full disclosure: I worked on the design for this disc. So later on when I rave about the cover art – well – you can take that with a grain of salt. Further, it’s no secret that Mo’ Mojo has long been one of my favorite local bands, and their first disc will give you an idea why. Their first release, Finally!, finds the band in the studio but manages to capture the right energy with live recordings and minimal overdubs. Fundamentally, zydeco is dance music, and there’s a good-time groove that winds through this set. Billing themselves as a zydeco jam band, Mo’ Mojo blends pure zydeco and Cajun tunes with layered instrumental breaks that give everyone a chance for a solo.

Accordion and fiddle anchor the disc and compete for attention, but there is a lot more going on.

“Dawg Hill” is busy with rubboard, triangle, and some extra percussion. “Tell Me Why” contrasts sharp harmonies over sparse instrumentation. “Ride That Train” takes a bluesy turn with Sam Rettman’s puffing harmonica.

One of the standout tracks is a rendition of Prince’s “Kiss” (yes, that Prince), featuring a loping guitar solo followed by a sax lead that echoes the ubiquitous, drippy sax solos of the ’80s. True to the form, the album is a mix of originals and covers, including a couple of non-zydeco tunes. Frontwoman Jen Maurer penned the majority of the originals which range from stick-to-the-book traditional stylings to pop-informed Cajun numbers. The best of these is “Rockin’ Chair,” which again shows off the band’s bright vocals. Think Tin Pan Alley meets the Bayou, with a little bit of a rock ‘n’ roll edge.

Speaking of rock ‘n’ roll, who spanned genres from the traditional to the modern better than Bo Diddley? No one. Aptly, the set closes with a take of “Who Do You Love?” firmly planted in rock ‘n’ roll territory.
- Blues Review


"Zydeco Jam Band from the North Coast"

Full disclosure: I worked on the design for this disc. So later on when I rave about the cover art – well – you can take that with a grain of salt. Further, it’s no secret that Mo’ Mojo has long been one of my favorite local bands, and their first disc will give you an idea why. Their first release, Finally!, finds the band in the studio but manages to capture the right energy with live recordings and minimal overdubs. Fundamentally, zydeco is dance music, and there’s a good-time groove that winds through this set. Billing themselves as a zydeco jam band, Mo’ Mojo blends pure zydeco and Cajun tunes with layered instrumental breaks that give everyone a chance for a solo.

Accordion and fiddle anchor the disc and compete for attention, but there is a lot more going on.

“Dawg Hill” is busy with rubboard, triangle, and some extra percussion. “Tell Me Why” contrasts sharp harmonies over sparse instrumentation. “Ride That Train” takes a bluesy turn with Sam Rettman’s puffing harmonica.

One of the standout tracks is a rendition of Prince’s “Kiss” (yes, that Prince), featuring a loping guitar solo followed by a sax lead that echoes the ubiquitous, drippy sax solos of the ’80s. True to the form, the album is a mix of originals and covers, including a couple of non-zydeco tunes. Frontwoman Jen Maurer penned the majority of the originals which range from stick-to-the-book traditional stylings to pop-informed Cajun numbers. The best of these is “Rockin’ Chair,” which again shows off the band’s bright vocals. Think Tin Pan Alley meets the Bayou, with a little bit of a rock ‘n’ roll edge.

Speaking of rock ‘n’ roll, who spanned genres from the traditional to the modern better than Bo Diddley? No one. Aptly, the set closes with a take of “Who Do You Love?” firmly planted in rock ‘n’ roll territory.
- Blues Review


"Zydeco Jam Band from the North Coast"

Full disclosure: I worked on the design for this disc. So later on when I rave about the cover art – well – you can take that with a grain of salt. Further, it’s no secret that Mo’ Mojo has long been one of my favorite local bands, and their first disc will give you an idea why. Their first release, Finally!, finds the band in the studio but manages to capture the right energy with live recordings and minimal overdubs. Fundamentally, zydeco is dance music, and there’s a good-time groove that winds through this set. Billing themselves as a zydeco jam band, Mo’ Mojo blends pure zydeco and Cajun tunes with layered instrumental breaks that give everyone a chance for a solo.

Accordion and fiddle anchor the disc and compete for attention, but there is a lot more going on.

“Dawg Hill” is busy with rubboard, triangle, and some extra percussion. “Tell Me Why” contrasts sharp harmonies over sparse instrumentation. “Ride That Train” takes a bluesy turn with Sam Rettman’s puffing harmonica.

One of the standout tracks is a rendition of Prince’s “Kiss” (yes, that Prince), featuring a loping guitar solo followed by a sax lead that echoes the ubiquitous, drippy sax solos of the ’80s. True to the form, the album is a mix of originals and covers, including a couple of non-zydeco tunes. Frontwoman Jen Maurer penned the majority of the originals which range from stick-to-the-book traditional stylings to pop-informed Cajun numbers. The best of these is “Rockin’ Chair,” which again shows off the band’s bright vocals. Think Tin Pan Alley meets the Bayou, with a little bit of a rock ‘n’ roll edge.

Speaking of rock ‘n’ roll, who spanned genres from the traditional to the modern better than Bo Diddley? No one. Aptly, the set closes with a take of “Who Do You Love?” firmly planted in rock ‘n’ roll territory.
- Blues Review


"CD Review: Mo' Mojo"

Mo' Mojo have been around for 15 years, but the appropriately titled Finally! is the zydeco jam band's first album. Turns out it was worth the wait. The up-tempo party album includes a couple of covers of songs made popular by zydeco legend Boozoo Chavis. They also run through Prince's "Kiss" and Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love," capping off the latter with a riff from the Meters' classic "Cissy Strut." The original songs don't quite reach the same heights, but they maintain Finally!'s festive mood. Singer Jen Maurer's supple voice rivals her ear for melody, fueling the group's infectious energy levels throughout. — Jeff Niesel - Scene (Cleveland)


"CD Review: Mo' Mojo"

Mo' Mojo have been around for 15 years, but the appropriately titled Finally! is the zydeco jam band's first album. Turns out it was worth the wait. The up-tempo party album includes a couple of covers of songs made popular by zydeco legend Boozoo Chavis. They also run through Prince's "Kiss" and Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love," capping off the latter with a riff from the Meters' classic "Cissy Strut." The original songs don't quite reach the same heights, but they maintain Finally!'s festive mood. Singer Jen Maurer's supple voice rivals her ear for melody, fueling the group's infectious energy levels throughout. — Jeff Niesel - Scene (Cleveland)


"Mo' Mojo Rocks the Barking Spider"

The Barking Spider came alive with the high energy, rockin’ zydeco sounds of Mo’ Mojo this past Sunday. Nestled into the heart of the Case Western campus, the Barking Spider is a quaint venue dedicated to live music. It was packed to the gill on Sunday with people ranging from young college students to those with heads of silver enjoying their extended weekend. And everyone was clearly entertained by the lively music filling the rustic space.

It was but a few songs into the set when the front tables were pushed to the side and the audience came spilling out of their seats. Never once throughout that evening was that space empty again. The zydeco sound, so aptly captured by this group of northeast Ohio musicians, finds its origins in southwest Louisiana Creole music but has adapted and changed with the times, integrating many musical genres. Mo’ Mojo’s performance captured this diversity, filling the intimate space with a lively spirit that left toes tapping, voices singing and faces smiling from wall to wall.

The energy of the evening never wavered or waned. The zydeco spirit flowed flawlessly from band to audience and back again. As the close of the evening’s festivities impended, the shared spirit was accentuated as the audience was pulled in to assist with the last song. It didn’t take long for the entire venue to be filled with voices; "Sing it one more time like that, sing it one more time like that, sing it with me please don't let me sing alone. Sing it one more time like that, sing these troubles off my back, sing it one more time like that before you go…"
Mo’ Mojo consists of a fluid cast, but were present Sunday evening with their most common line up - Jen Maurer on accordion and lead vocals, Bill Lestock on fiddle, Joe Golden on guitar, Darren Thomas on bass, Rod Lubline on drums and Davidione Pearl on rubboard, sax, and rhythm. Sam Rettman also joined in as a guest on harmonica. If an evening of great music, dancing and fun is in your near future, take a look to see if Mo’ Mojo might be groovin’ through your neighborhood. They’re sure to provide you with an evening filled with good music, smiles and energizing entertainment.

To find out more about one of the hottest bands rocking through Northeast Ohio visit their website at www.momojomusic.com. - The Examiner


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Mo' Mojo is:

* Zydeco and Cajun infused with Americana, reggae, rock & roll, funk, R&B, and African and Latin rhythms.
* Diatonic accordion, fiddle, guitars, bass, drums, rubboard, sax, trumpet, harp, percussion, and powerful lead and harmony vocals.
* Danceable. Danceable. Danceable.
* Female fronted.
* Expanding Zydeco and Roots Music.
* An Ohio Arts Council Artist on Tour (see below*).

We love festivals! This band can command any size stage, and is equipped to lead workshops in Zydeco dance; Zydeco, second line, and African rhythms; fiddle styles; and demystifying the Talk Box for guitarists.

Festivals and venues the band has played over the past few years include:

Blissfest (MI); W.C. Handy Blues Fest (KY); The Purple Fiddle (WV); Glen Echo Zydeco Dance (DC); The Pittsburgh Zydeco Dance (PA); The Oil City Festival (PA); Museum 21 (KY); Pearl's (MI); Lock 3, The Akron Civic Theater, First Night Akron, The Taste of Hudson Festival, The CVNP Howe Meadow Concert Series, Nelson Ledges Quarry Park Summer Solstice Fest, The Kent State Folk Festival, The Kent Stage, The Wade Oval Concert Series, Painesville Party in the Park, Cain Park Cool Cats Festival, The Cleveland Garlic Festival, The International Children’s Festival, The Hessler Street Festival, The Boston Mills Arts Festival, Brookside Festival, Coventry Concert Series, The Raccoon County Festival, The Star Plaza Concert Series, the Put-In-Bay Concert Series, The Paw Paw Festival, The Portsmouth Concert Series, Fraze Pavilion Swamp Fest (OH).

*Find Mo' Mojo in the Ohio Artists On Tour (OAOT) Directory. As a presenter you may be eligible to receive 1/3 of Mo’ Mojo’s performance fee from the OAC. Go to http://www.oac.state.oh.us/grantsprogs/guidelines/OAOTPresenters.asp for qualifying guidelines. The band is listed under jazz artists.