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Grady CHAMPION Feat. Eddie COTTON Jr. – Back In Mississippi Live at the 930 Blues Cafe 2008

Posted in BLUES, Eddie COTTON Jr., Grady CHAMPION on December 23, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Grady CHAMPION Feat. Eddie COTTON Jr. – Back In Mississippi Live at the 930 Blues Cafe 2008

Blues

With an independently-produced album and a pair of acclaimed releases for the roots label Shanachie under his belt, and after winning the top spot in the 26th Annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis (beating out over 100 other artists) in February 2010, bluesman Grady Champion steps up to a higher-profile label in Earwig with a live album that is certainly to cement his status as one of the most exciting contemporary bluesmen on the scene today. Assisted by a great band that includes underrated blues guitarist Eddie Cotton, Back In Mississippi showcases Champion’s talents as a singer, songwriter, and harpslinger. Check this guy out before he blows up big!
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It’s an anomaly to find a rapper-turned-bluesman, but that’s exactly what Grady Champion seems to be. And at the end of last year he turned out a stupendous 14-track album with several blues all-time classics, and – dare I say it – some equally good originals.

This is kind of a family affair – and it’s a BIG family. Grady is the youngest of 28 children who grew up in rural Canton, Miss., near Jackson, where the disc was recorded live at the 930 Blues Café.

Grady Champion does lead vocals (which are at times a little grating and too gravely) and harp, along with acoustic guitar on one track, “Policeman Blues,” a controversial original he wrote with Dennis Walker. Grady’s son, Marquis Champion is on bass and backup vocals, and several other family members seem to have taken part in the production. The record is dedicated to his parents, siblings, and children, including an autistic son.

A big plus is the electric guitar playing of Eddie Cotton Jr. (who calls Champion his little brother) who just sizzles throughout the entire disc.

The band is rounded out by Calvin Wilson on keyboards, Hammond B3 organ and backup vocals, and Frank White and Xavres Good on drums.

The disc has one nod to Champion’s old genre, with Jacktown Swiff doing some rap on “Policeman Blues,” a lament to racial profiling.

But the first half of the album is pure blues from all of the greats – you couldn’t ask for more: “I’m Ready,” followed by a combination of Jimmy Reed’s “Baby What You Want to Do/Bright Lights, Big City,” “Spoonful,” B.B. King’s “Why I Sing the Blues,” and Curtis Jones’ slow, soulful “Lonesome Bedroom Blues.” You can hear the screaming from the audience on this one, especially during Cotton’s fast-fingered leads.

But I’m telling you, two of the best songs are Champion originals.

“1-800-Blu-Love” is a funky dance number with fantastic harp riffs. Ditto for “You Got Some Explaining To Do,” which was also co-written by Dennis Walker. This one is another danceable, but more bluesy, tune about – what else – a cheating woman. Again, great guitar work here by Cotton.

“Love and Memories,” written by Grady Champion, and dedicated to his mother, is a Gospel-like loving ode to her. “Wine and Women” by Champion and Cotton, is a fine shuffle.

The album is rounded out by three originals: “Brother, Brother,” a racially poignant ballad; “I’m Your’s,” a real slow ballad, and, for the holidays: “Blues on Christmas,” with some amusing lyrics. (“Santa did me wrong – he took my milk, cookies, and my woman, too.”)

Champion should be championed as one of the best young-and-upcoming blues musicians, and let’s hope he puts another disc out soon.
By Karen Nugent.
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It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from Grady Champion. Following the success of his second Shanachie release, Two Days Short of A Week, Champion took a sabbatical of sorts, retreated to his hometown of Canton, MS, where he went back to school to study music, and played in his spare time with fellow rising star Eddie Cotton. He reformed his band, The Grady Champion Revue, and started playing locally in the Central Mississippi area. In July of 2007, he recorded Back In Mississippi Live at the 930 Blues Café in Jackson, MS for his own GSM label, with a helping hand from Cotton, who plays guitar on all the tracks.

Champion and Cotton take on a variety of tunes, including crowd-pleasing covers of several blues standards (“I’m Ready,” a Jimmy Reed medley of “Baby What You Want Me To Do/Bright Lights, Big City,” “Spoonful,” Lonesome Bedroom Blues,” and “Why I Sing The Blues”). Some of the highlights include “You Got Some Explaining To Do,” which features one of many torrid guitar solos from Cotton, an incredibly funky “I-800-Blu-Love,” “Wine and Women,” penned by Champion and Cotton, “Love and Memories,” a sweet tribute to Champion’s late mother, and the contemporary track, “Policeman Blues,” which features a rap from local artist Jacktown Swiff.

Champion’s voice has the perfect mixture of sweet soul and gritty blues. Cotton’s guitar work is phenomenal, with stinging leads, tasteful fills, always right where they need to be. Their interplay is so seamless, that it sounds like they’ve been playing together all their lives. Also lending support are Champion’s son Marquis on bass, Calvin Wilson on keyboards, and Frank White on drums.

Previously, Eddie Cotton recorded two outstanding live discs at Jackson’s Alamo Theatre. Back In Mississippi Live at the 930 Blues Café belongs next to them. It’s further proof that contemporary blues are alive and well in Mississippi, and in good hands.
By Graham Clarke.
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These men won the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in January 2010 so you know they play with fire and power. This show was recorded on 07-07-07 at the 930 Blues Club in Jackson Mississippi, and it captures a great time. Grady Champion and the Grady Champion Revue featuring Eddie Cotton Jr, as a band, are made of Mr. Champion on vocals and harp and Mr. Cotton on guitar, Calvin Wilson on keyboards, Marquis Champion on bass, and Frank White on drums. They have played together long enough to do things right. Things start off with the doubleheader blast of Willie Dixon and Jimmy Reed, with “I’m Ready” and “Baby What You Want Me To Do/Bright Lights” the way shows probably kicked off in hundreds of blues clubs back in the 50s and 60s. These classics are expertly done, and after that warm up the band brings out three Grady Champion compositions, “You Got Some Explaining To Do” “1-800-Blu-Love” and “Policeman Blues.” Grady testifies, he tells the truth in each song; and then, as the audience is catching their breath, the Revue launches into a long and glorious cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Spoonful” and you think the show must be wrapping up. But the best is still yet to come! Led by a slow and terrific organ and guitar intro, the band digs into “Lonesome Bed Blues” where everybody gets a chance to shine, especially Eddie Cotton Jr. His guitar work here alone is worth the price of the cd. The rest of the show is all 100% top notch blues, mixing Grady Champion’s original songs with the BB King classic “Why I Sing The Blues,” which is where you get to hear Grady’s great harp work. During “Wine and Women,” co-written by Grady and Eddie Cotton Jr., Calvin Wilson plays a great solo on piano. Every song is fully realized… This cd is a great teaching opportunity too. Anybody who says “I don’t like the blues, they’re all sad songs” needs to hear this. It will lift your spirits! You can dance to it!
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Grady Champion- Vocals, Harp
Mr. Cotton- Guitar,
Calvin Wilson- Keyboards,
Marquis Champion- Bass,
Frank White- Drums.
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01. Intro 0:30
02. I’m Ready 3:52
03. Baby What You Want Me To Do-Bright Lights 6:25
04. You Got Some Explaining To Do 4:19
05. 1-800-Blu-Love 4:42
06. Policeman Blues 4:12
07. Spoonful 6:58
08. Lonesome Bedroom Blues 7:50
09. Love and Memories 5:59
10. Why I Sing The Blues 5:57
11. Wine & Women 5:47
12. Brother, Brother 4:53
13. I’m Yours 4:10
14. Blues on Christmas 5:37
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