Thursday, July 26, 2012

Shanachie Days reviewed by Harmonica Joe Poluyanskis

Shanachie Days
Grady Champion
GSM Music Group LLC
17 tracks/68:53

Grady Champion is a former boxer who has ventured into the genre of the blues. As we all know both of these endeavors are a tough road to success. Outside of the ring Champion seems to have made the trip down the road in good fashion. Besides being a genuine performer on stage, Grady is a very versatile song writer, awesome harmonica player and has the type of voice that makes you want to listen to his blues. Grady is also the winner of the 2010 International Blues Challenge Band winner and a 2012 Blues Music Award nominee.

“Shanachie Days”, Champion’s latest release, is a collection of 17 tunes that he wrote. These songs come from two previous CD’s, “Payin’ For My Sins”(1999) and “2 Days Short Of A Week (2001). The band for these recordings included Duke Robillard, Mike Turner and Ben Peeler on guitar, Richard Cousins and James Itveld on bass and Lee Spath on drums. Add Grady Champion’s harmonica and his unique vocals plus some sax from Alan Mirikitani and there is a nice mix for the blues.

As I listened to the tunes of Grady Champion on “Shanachie Days” I realized I was going into the world of some real blues artistry. Grady takes a step forward by putting his true feelings into the lyrics of all his songs. He is not afraid to touch on tough subjects of the world without inciting anger in people as some writers seem to like to do nowadays. “Policeman Blues” hits upon racial profiling and police violence. This tune gets to the point on the subject and makes us think about it. The rap vocals included grabs at you for attention also. This is a very interesting track. “Lady Luck” starts out with a strong piano intro and eerie guitar work on this minor key tune. I always enjoy hearing minor key stuff. The lyrics go into the subject about counting on luck to make your world go around. Grady hits us with the line, “Oh Lady Luck isn’t nothing’ but a hoe, oh Lady Luck, why you tease me then go.’” This sounds like the real deal to me.

Roberta” takes us down the road of some country blues which starts out with some harp playing in the style of Sonny Terry and some dobro playing from Ben Peeler.  Grady’s vocals have a twang to them as well as a Little Arthur Duncan tone to them on this track. This is some laid back country blues down well.

With 17 tunes to choose from on “Shanachie Days”, we get to know where Grady Champion is coming from. Each tune is not just a bit of fluff to sell recordings but they contain lyrics that have meaning and make us listen. He hits upon issues facing us all and puts his thoughts out there for us while we are entertained by his music. His vocal range treats us to so many different qualities that some tracks let you think there is someone else singing the tune. His harmonica skills are really top notch and blues based.

“Shanachie Days” is filled with some shuffles, R&B,  country blues and rocking blues that create a powerful mix for this CD. This whole recording is a great way to introduce blues fans to Grady Champion and his music. This recording is well over an hour of powerful blues stories of life.

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