BLUES SOURCE #22
By Ken Wallis, Blues & Roots Radio
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What Am I Listening To?
I gotta jump into this right off the top of the blog cause I’m absolutely bluesified by a new release.
It’s Downchild and it’s entitled Something I’ve Done. Without doubt t’s one of the best releases of 2017.
When I first heard their last release, Can’t You Hear the Music, I immediately felt it was worthy of a Juno. Something I’ve Done is just as darn good, if not better. Are we looking at another Juno? You just never know.
The band Downchild was started by Mr. Downchild himself, Donnie Walsh in 1969. The band’s fame grew, especially after the Blues Brothers modelled themselves after Downchild. The current crop of musicians has been together for at least 20 years. Donnie plays guitar and a wicked harmonica, Chuck Jackson puts hisl stamp on the tunes with his remarkable vocals. Gary Kendall provides the solid bass line, Michael Fonfara mans the keyboard, drummer Mike Fitzpatrick plays the skins with passion, and Pat Carey makes his sax come alive. Here are a couple of snaps from the this year’s Southside Shuffle.
So how do I describe Something I’ve Done without using the word stellar? Well let’s see how we can brand it – jump blues, dancing blues, swing blues, boogie blues, Chicago blues. Oh, hell there’s only one way to describe it. It’s vintage DOWNCHILD BLUES! That is a genre of its own.
In a recent interview on the radio show, Blues Blast, Chuck Jackson mused that the title should’ve been ‘Something We’ve Done’. Because this a group effort that shows what this current version of the band can do. This group of super talents has now been together for 20 years and they really know how to mesh gears.
Chuck went on to say , “The interesting thing about the band is that we don’t do as many gigs as we used to. …we do around 50 to 60 dates per year. We all have other projects on the go, so when we do get around to doing the Downchild stuff we’re really excited about doing it. It’s fresh and we all come in from different jobs, different bands we’re playing with. And everybody’s got some ideas to add to the writing….it makes the new cds every time we come into the studio a challenge and exciting”
The release features the song writing skills of the band members. Chuck Jackson wrote the kickoff tune, Albany Albany, and also Mississippi Woman, Missaussauga Man, which he adds his thundering harp to. Check out the video.
Walsh composed the iconic blues instrumental Evelyn that closes out the cd. Bassist Gary Kendall adds two tunes; Mailbox Money and Take A Piece of My Heart. Keyboardist extraordinaire, Michael Fonfara brought forward the title track Something I’ve Done and Can’t Get Mad at You. And then drummer Mike Fitzpatrick contributed Into the Fire. All in all, it’s a remarkable blend of music from a band that respects each other and revels in the songs they write.
The cd also includes a David Vest song, Worried About The World. Plus She Thinks I Do, a song composed by the late John Witmer, onetime Downchild member
This past summer, I had a relative ask me what the blues is all about. I struggled to give a clear answer. Now I know, the answer is provided by simply listening to Downchld’s Something I’ve Done.
A Few Concert Reminders
A Tribute To Muddy and the Wolf takes place on Saturday December 2 at Hugh’s Room Live. And what a tribute it promises to be with a fantastic array of musicians. Paul DesLauriers, Dylan Wickens, Julian Fauth, Guy Belanger, Jack de Keyzer and hosted by Danny Marks. What a dynamite cast of players.
Advance tickets are $35 and can be purchased at http://hughsroomlive.com/. Remember, Hugh’s Room Live is a not for profit facility and is supported by a dedicated group of volunteers. Hugh’s Room Live is located at 2261 Dundas St. W. Toronto.
And while we’re visiting Hugh’s Room Live let’s not forget you should try and catch Lance Anderson Presents The Last Waltz – A Musical Celebration of The Band. We caught it at the Canal Bank Shuffle and it’s well worth attending.
Lance and a talented band of musicians take the stage for two nights, November 23rd and 24th. The performance features guest appearances by Matt Weidinger, Chuck Jackson, Johnny Max and Quisha Wint.
Advance tickets are $45 and $50 at the door.
The Blues South All Stars
Blues South Tours, the group that brings you such great Blues getaways in the Caribbean are presenting the Blues South All Stars, highlighting some of the many artists you can catch in the warmth of a southern island.
Some of the featured artists include George Olliver, Kenny Blues Boss Wayne, Cheryl Lescom, Gerome Godboo and Lance Anderson.
It happens at the Germania Club in Hamilton on Friday Dec 2. See below for full details.
We’re starting to get in that mode for the holiday season, so a few of your next blogs will highlight what’s happening over the holidays. In the meantime, keep the home fires warm and keep tuning into great blues music on Blues and Roots Radio.