Grady Champion review…August 30, 2014…

GRADY CHAMPION

BOOTLEG WHISKEY

MALACO RECORDS 7546

BEG, BORROW, STEAL–BOOTLEG WHISKEY–DON’T WASTE MY TIME–HOME ALONE–TEN DOLLARS–SOUTH SIDE–WHO DAT–HERE WE GO Y’ALL–I TRIPPED AND FELL IN LOVE–MR. RIGHT–WHITE BOY WITH THE BLUES

If you are a blues fan, likely you are familiar with Malaco Records, especially if you have lived ’round these parts for very long.  The storied “Last Soul Company” has been home to some of the greats of the genre’–Dorothy Moore, Little Milton, Z. Z. Hill, and that’s just a few.

Growing up in rural Canton, MS, Grady Champion was exposed to those Malaco legends via his family’s record collection.  Young Grady embraced those sounds to such an extent that he chose that as a career.  He won the IBC in Memphis in 2010, and now finds himself a part of that iconic label.  He has just released “Bootleg Whiskey” on Malaco, and the set was produced by label chief Tommy Couch, Jr.  Grady wrote or co-wrote five of the eleven cuts, and this set shows off his maturity as a vocalist, harpman, storyteller, and creator of songs for the dancers!

Grady is a master of making everybody feel good with some straight-up, down-home blues.  He rides that “endless boogie” for all it’s worth on the autobiographical “Here We Go Y’all”—“give me a harp and watch me blow, and give me a guitar and watch me roll!”  The title cut is a smooth slab of Southern soul, with fine sax from Micah Brown and Clayton Ivey’s unmistakable keyboards.  “Home Alone” takes a hard look at a lover who’s “always in the streets, and never at home,” and Grady really lets loose on the harp on this one.  “South Side” is the current single, and it rides a smooth groove as Grady explains the side of town in every famous city where “there’s a party on every block!”

We had two favorites, too.  Grady gets down-and-dirty to tell a lover that he’s had enough in the stop-time patter of “Don’t Waste My Time.”  And, the set-closer also serves as the most somber cut on the album.  The tragic ending to a childhood friendship shows Grady’s gospel upbringing as “Amazing Grace” and “Precious Memories” are interspersed throughout the poignant tale of a “White Boy With The Blues,” featuring soaring backup from the Crowns Of Joy.”

Grady Champion has made it “home” to Malaco Records, where he always wanted to be.  He’ll tell you right up front, too, that “the blues ain’t nothin’ but people havin’ fun, so get out on the dance floor and get ya some,” and let “Bootleg Whiskey” be your soundtrack!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

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