The new release Shanachie Days from 2010 International Blues Challenge winner and 2012 Blues Music Award nominee Grady Champion will no doubt please his fans and earn him some new ones. Champion is a real deal Mississippi blues man who is on a one-man crusade to carry the blues torch to the world.
This retrospective from his days with Shanachie Entertainment is definitely a total “best of” collection of hard-driving blues, funky soul and roots rock, all of which feature Champion’s smoky vocals, master harmonica skills and poignant songwriting.
Critics may say that Champion is merely recycling standard song forms with his own lyrics, but they miss the point that his mission is to keep this unique American art form alive and kicking. Make no mistake, Champion isn’t singing about the same old blues when he makes a call out for world peace on the grooving “Brother, Brother,” and attacks racial profiling head on with “Policeman Blues,” and gun violence on the South Bay-styled strut “Children Of The Corn.” Then he dares anyone not to get up and dance to the horn driven Memphis style burner “Love Is My Middle Name.” The Chicago shuffle “Nothing I Can Do,” featuring guitar legend Duke Robillard, is also an added treat to the set.
The album closes with Champion’s signature number, “My Rooster Is King,” which is basically a remake of “Wang Dang Doodle,” but the groove is so infectious I imagine Willie Dixon and Koko Taylor would totally approve.