D.J. Grissom was just two-years-old when he picked up his first instrument, a pair of drum sticks.
Since then, he has released two albums and gained local fame with his band, Gin Mobsters.
“We started around February of 2017. My dad and I always played in our music shed but could never find a bass guitarist,” D.J. said. Well, that all changed when family friend, William Pipes, agreed to try out the spot.
“The first song we played was ‘Hey Joe’ by Jimi Hendrix, and it clicked so well we didn’t stop,” said D.J. The Gin Mobsters took off, playing local events and weekly shows. The music just couldn’t be contained.
The band recorded their first upcoming album, “Silver Ghost,” in one night.
D.J. said that recording the album was a very different experience from his solo work. “This album is more to my roots, as far as that classic rock and blues feel,” he said.
D.J.’s dad, Dooney Grissom said that his son has had a passion for music since he was born. “It is an awesome feeling. I’m also a musician and to see him chasing that dream is great,” Dooney said.
After graduating high school, D.J. travelled to Nashville, Tenn. to record his EP, “The Man in Disguise.” Since then, he has released two albums “6 days” and “Scars.” Both albums were recorded solely by D.J.
D.J. sits on a stool with his guitar, Sweet Caroline, resting beside him. “I have a GS mini Taylor acoustic and a Gibson SG electric guitar,” he said. For D.J., the guitar is his “shield on the stage.” Along with the guitar and drums, the talented musician can also play bass guitar and harmonica. This adds to his bluesy sound. “To me, the Blues is all about feeling. You represent how you feel through the music,” he said.
According to Britannica.com, “Blues is a secular, folk music created by African Americans in the early 20th century, originally in the South.” By the 1960s, the Blues had become one of the most interesting and influential genres in music history.
But, before there were the Gin Mobsters, there were the BLUEZCATZ. A blues, rock-band that originated in Northeast, Louisiana, and has built a following from years of hard work and good music.
Dooney played the drums. Eddie Word controlled the bass and was lead on vocals. Finally, there was Gray Martin. Martin played the guitar and more importantly, helped D.J. find his bluesy sound. BLUEZCATZ describes their music as down-and-dirty blues, classic rock ‘n’ roll and r&b. The band has been making music for over 15 years. A legacy that D.J. is excited to continue.
“A big part of my love for music came from watching my dad and the band play shows,” D.J. said. He was even allowed to play a song here and there, but only after helping unload the equipment, of course. “I was born into the music,” he said.
Rhonda Grissom agrees with her son. “I knew D.J. would pursue music at a very young age. He was holding his dad’s drumsticks and was playing when he was in diapers,” she said. As long as her son is happy, Rhonda said she will always be 100 percent supportive of him.
For D.J., the Blues is important, because so many other wonderful artists were born from the genre. “That’s where it all began,” he said of the Blues. There would be no Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughn. There would be no BLUEZCATZ.
At least, that’s what D.J. thinks. He said the emotion heard from blues musicians is phenomenal. Every note played and word sang takes him to a different place. Buddy Guy and Stevie Ray Vaughn are two of D.J.’s favorite blues artists. Guy’s slow, raspy voice is something D.J. has tried to emulate through his own music. Recently, however, he has been listening to Drive By Truckers, who he calls a “huge inspiration.”
D.J. plays shows every week with the Gin Mobsters. They can be seen tearing up a storm at Enoch’s or bringing down the house at the Brass Monkey Pub & Patio. It doesn’t matter where they are playing, it’s sure to be a good time.
Dooney said he is proud to share the stage with his son. “There really are no words to describe it. Every time we take the stage it is magic; music is the feeling,” he said.
And, as for mom, she is proud of her family and the dedication they have for music. Rhonda said she knows that they enjoy spending time together doing what makes them happy. “They will always remember playing together, and I love to see it on their faces,” she said.
The Blues will never die out, as far as D.J. is concerned. He recalled a night not long ago, when the Gin Mobsters played a show he would never forget. D.J. had his shades on, and as the fog filled the stage, he tilted his head back and ripped the craziest guitar solo ever.
“My experience with the downtown Monroe music scene has been great. I love meeting people who enjoy my music,” D.J. said. He makes a point to keep the atmosphere uplifting and focused on the music saying, “Everyone has a good time, and the vibes are always just right.”
Fans of rock ‘n’ roll, blues, live music and good company can check out Gin Mobsters on Facebook page for upcoming events and shows.
D.J. says that without music, his life would cease to have meaning. This may seem like a strong statement to some, but D.J. absolutely believes it. “Music is everything. It affects our daily lives. We choose the tone to set.”
WRITTEN BY RAVEN ADCOX, JULY 19, 2018, THE HAWKEYE NEWPAPER