Blacktop Mojo bring some Southern rock to the Northeast
Let the name Blacktop Mojo marinate with you for a minute. The five piece Southern Rock band from Palestine, Texas has been making a name for themselves, pounding the pavement and bringing Rock N’ Roll to the masses.
The band, which consists of singer Matt James, drummer Nathan Gillis, lead guitarist Ryan Keifer, bassist Matt Curtis, and guitarist Chuck Wepfer, have wowed audiences with their hard driving blend of classic rock, metal and post grunge.
Blacktop Mojo began their journey in 2012, founded by frontman Matt James and drummer Nathan Gillis. The band eventually became a five-piece and released their debut album I Am in 2014. They toured endlessly, sharing the stage with heavy hitting acts like Bon Jovi, Sammy Hagar, Black stone Cherry, and Pop Evil to name a few. Fast forward to 2017, the guys teamed up with producer Jimmy Johnson for their sophomore album Burn The Ships, which was released in March of 2017 via the band’s label Cuhmon Records and is available to purchase HERE. The album was met with critical acclaim and the album’s lead single “Where The Wind Blows” reached number 27 on the Billboard mainstream rock chart.
Presently, the band is hard at work on their third album as well as touring in support of the album’s second single the title track “Burn The Ships”. The group most recently found out their cover of the classic Aerosmith song “Dream On” made its way in the top 40 for Billboard’s mainstream active rock songs. The band is on the road at this time with dates around the U.S with Joyous Wolf and Black Stone Cherry.
Now all roads lead me here. Not only are Blacktop Mojo on tour currently, but they just so happen to have a date in my neck of the woods. Their first show in New Jersey to be exact, it’s a Thursday night and that doesn’t stop anyone in NJ with close radius to New York City from going out and having a good time. So after hearing these guys’ names pop up, seeing them on my Facebook feed and finally digging into the second album, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to catch these Texans live.
I made my way to the venue Debonair Music Hall formerly known as Mexicali Live (which, yes, was as weird as it sounds).
The guys made their way on stage at 9:45, and without hesitation the band started the set with driving guitars and intense pounding drums. Frontman Matt James’ voice is phenomenal, like seriously really good, maybe even better in person than on the record, and if you’ve heard the album you know that’s insanity. You can tell rather quickly into their set these guys love playing music. Their energy and stage chemistry is infectious and I even caught myself smiling throughout the set. These Texans are most definitely a band family and that shines the whole time. There was some technical difficulties here and there, but hey that’s rock n’ rock, and they handled it perfectly with a little help from singer Matt James and his unexpected joke telling abilities.
Mid-way through the band’s show, Matt James took the stage solo and told the crowd the story of the beginning of Blacktop Mojo.
“Sometimes I like to take it back to the coffee shop day’s,” stated James before grabbing his acoustic guitar for his rendition of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer”, which, in case you’re wondering, was awesome. Later on he was joined by bassist Matt Curtis for a cover of Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” before the entire band headed back on stage for songs like the hit single “Where The Wind Blows” and their highly successful cover of “Dream On” by Aerosmith.
I’m just gonna go ahead and say it: these guys are kickass, and their ability to put on a headbanging, fast and furious rock show is downright impressive. Drummer Nathan Gillis is beyond fun to watch play his kit and the shows atmosphere is exhilarating and fun. I honestly believe this is just the start for these boys and I can’t wait to see what’s next on their journey. The guys have some really cool stuff coming up and they’re road warriors so there is plenty of chances to catch them live in your state.
I hung around after the set and was able to not only chat with them a bit, but also watch them interact with their fans, taking the time to thanks people for coming out, and taking pictures and having a drink even. That humility is often missing from bands and it was refreshing to see. It’s great when you find a band that’s great musically and also as human beings. I really recommend supporting them and catching them live, you won’t regret a second of it.