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MailTribune.com
  • Grady Champion's big break

    The bluesman's album "Dreamin' " garnered nominations for two Blues Music Awards
  • In just over a month, Grady Champion's official "Make That Monkey Jump" music video received nearly 220,000 hits on YouTube. The video, filmed at the former Club Fire in Jackson, Miss., features juke-joint blues and a carnal message for the ladies: "Do what you do and shake your rump and make that monkey jump."
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    • If you go
      Who: Grady Champion
      When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24-25
      Where: Roscoe's BBQ, 117 S. Main St., Phoenix
      Cover: Free
      Call: 541-512-1046
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      If you go
      Who: Grady Champion

      When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24-25

      Where: Roscoe's BBQ, 117 S. Main St., Phoenix

      Cover: Free

      Call: 541-512-1046
  • In just over a month, Grady Champion's official "Make That Monkey Jump" music video received nearly 220,000 hits on YouTube.
    The video, filmed at the former Club Fire in Jackson, Miss., features juke-joint blues and a carnal message for the ladies: "Do what you do and shake your rump and make that monkey jump."
    The song, included on Champion's 2011 album, "Dreamin'," won Best Down Home Blues Song at the 2011 Blues Critic Awards.
    "People just seem to like it no mater how old they are," Champion says.
    "I really think it's the groove, and the hook, that is so catchy — 'Make that monkey jump,' " he sings.
    The video shows Champion at the top of his game, singing soulful, powerhouse vocals and playing one of the 12 harmonicas on his belt.
    "I sing in so many different keys, so I use a lot of different harmonicas," he explains.
    Before this video, Champion's gentle ballad "Weight of the World," also featured on "Dreamin,' " was his most-viewed music video on YouTube with 6,200 hits.
    Champion and his band will present their high-energy show at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24 and 25, at Roscoe's BBQ, 117 S. Main St., Phoenix. His band includes his son, bassist Marquis Champion, as well as drummer Frank White and lead guitarist Nathan Keck. Last year, the foursome played 175 gigs nationwide. They'll play more this year.
    Born and raised in rural Canton, Miss., the youngest of 28 children, Champion broke into the music biz as a rapper although he sung gospel in church, he says. At 23, he decided he wanted to play more mature music, and blues was a natural fit for a Mississippi farm boy, although hip-hop and gospel still find their way into his music.
    "I love this whole thing they call the blues," he says.
    "It's a feeling type of music. You got to feel it."
    In 2010, Champion won the International Blues Challenge and, the next year, released his chart-topping, breakthrough album, "Dreamin', " featuring 10 of his original songs.
    " 'Dreamin' ' brought me the most success I've had in the 18 years of playing," he says.
    The album earned him 2012 Blues Music Award nominations for Soul Blues Album of the Year and Song of the Year ("Thank You for Giving Me the Blues").
    Champion is set to release a new album, "Shanachie Days," in May. The album includes 17 original songs featured on earlier albums "Payin' for My Sins" and "2 Days Short of a Week," recorded in 1999 and 2001 for Shanachie Entertainment.
    There is no cover to Champion's show at Roscoe's. Call 541-512-1046 or see www.gradychampion.com.
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