After 18 albums, countless awards and wowing sold-out audiences around the globe, THE LEGENDARY DOWNCHILD BLUES BAND are celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year with a brand-new show featuring hits like “Flip, Flop & Fly,” as well as fan favourites and hidden gems from throughout their illustrious career.
Downchild will be joined on stage for this very special performance by long-time friend and Hollywood Star, the one and only Mr. Dan Aykroyd, Late Night with David Letterman band leader Paul Shaffer, blues-rock great David Wilcox, Louisiana bluesman and Downchild alumni Kenny Neal as well as Gene Taylor and Finnish blues sensation, Erja Lyytinen.
Downchild came to international prominence as the inspiration for Aykroyd and the late John Belushi’s hit film, The Blues Brothers. In fact, two Downchild songs, “Shotgun Blues” and “(I Got Everything I Need) Almost” were even covered on The Blues Brothers’ 1978 multi-platinum album Briefcase Full of Blues.
The band is lead by founder, Donnie “Mr. Downchild” Walsh on guitar and harmonica, singer Chuck Jackson, who also plays harmonica, tenor sax man Pat Carey, Michael Fonfara (who was a member of the early American rock supergroup Rhinoceros and Lou Reed’s band) plays keyboards, Gary Kendall on bass and drummer Mike Fitzpatrick.
With their signature jump-blues style and infectious, soulful sound, Juno Award winners Downchild deliver a live performance that is second to none, and this special anniversary kickoff party is one - not to be missed!
It’s tempting and not altogether far-fetched to apply an engine metaphor to the mighty Downchild, one of the planet’s foremost, most fêted, longest-running blues outfits with quite possibly the best back story ever told.
Roaring through bracing, high-octane performances since 1969, the band founded and continuously steered by harmonica and guitar ace Donnie “Mr. Downchild” Walsh is as vibrant today as when Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi were inspired by Downchild for their brilliant Blues Brothers venture back in the 1970s. The pair elevated Downchild’s “Shotgun Blues” and Walsh’s “(I Got Everything I Need) Almost” to smash status on their 1978 Briefcase Full of Blues record.
Actually, the 2017 iteration of Downchild — with each member boasting a minimum of 20 years of service — might be the most electrifying yet. For proof, simply check out the sextet’s towering, lid-lifting, juke-joint–jumping 18th studio album, Something I've Done, a bona fide group effort and a sonic highlight in a 50-year career spilling over with them.
Internal combustion certainly describes scorchers like the swaggering, harp-goosed “Mississippi Woman, Mississauga Man,” the thundering piano-pummelled title track, and opener “Albany, Albany” which contrasts a singalong chorus with sharp melody forwarded by Pat Carey’s marvellously skronking sax.
Indeed, if Downchild didn’t exist, the blues world would have to invent them. Who else could so clearly serve as contemporary torchbearers for riveting original music firmly rooted in tradition while acting as a thriving spiritual link to past greats like Sonny Boy Williamson II, James Cotton, and B.B. King?
But don’t take our word for it. Downchild’s epic reputation has been reaffirmed time and again. Witness their 2014 Blues Album Of The Year Juno Award for their last studio effort, Can You Hear The Music — their second Juno win overall. Their boatload of Maple Blues Awards. Their marquee billing on the globe’s most prestigious stages. And, of course, their inimitable 1973 reading of Big Joe Turner’s classic "Flip, Flop and Fly" which placed Walsh and band co-founder, late brother Richard “Hock” Walsh on the charts and in the souls of music fans worldwide. “I was pretty lucky to get a hit record just a few years after starting the band,” Walsh confirms. “After that, the rest is geography. You just get in the van and go, and that's what we did. For the longest time, we played 250 to 300 dates a year.” Musical careers don’t rev higher than that. But how does Downchild keep the creative process fresh, preventing itself from becoming an oldies machine? Band-wide songwriting input, that’s how.