By Ken Wallis, Blues & Roots Radio
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“The Blues are the true facts of life expressed in words and song, inspiration, feeling, and understanding.”
The Juno Awards
Now that we’re into March, the Juno weekend is bearing down on us. It all takes place March 24-25 and the excitement is building for us to discover who will win the blues album of the year.
Five deserving nominees are in the mix and we’re going to highlight one each week in our blog. Last week, it was Steve Strongman. This week we’ll highlight one of Canada’s longest performing blues bands…..
As far as longevity is concerned, Downchild is the blues’ answer to rock’s Rolling Stones.
Downchild Blues Band came together in 1969 and is rapidly approaching their 50th anniversary. The band’s first leaders were Donnie Walsh and Hock Walsh and the band has constantly evolved over the years. It’s reported that they took the name Downchild from a Sonny Boy Williamson song Mr. Downchld. The songs starts with the lyrics:
“Listen Mister Downchild
Please take a fool's advice……”
The song goes on to advise that Mister Downchild shouldn’t “let no one woman..misuse you twice”
Originally called the Downchild Blues Band, the name was shortened simply to Downchild as they became a household name. They were the model band that the Blues Brothers used when they created their famous movie and music.
Over the years, the band went through numerous changes but today’s composition of artists has remained stable for some time. Donnie Walsh still leads the band on guitar and harmonica, Chuck Jackson handles the lead vocals, Michael Fonfara is featured on keyboards, Pat Carey blows sax, Gary Kendall plays bass and Mike Fitzpatrick sits in on drums.
The band has won numerous awards including several Maple Blues Awards and in 2014 won the Juno for best blues album, Can You Hear the Music?
There are some great tunes on this cd, but I have to admit ‘My Mississippi Queen’ is my favourite.
This album is already considered a blues classic, and on its heels, came Something I’ve Done, this year’s Juno nominee.
In an interview with Chuck Jackson on my Blues Blast radio show, Chuck commented that the title actually should have been ‘Something We’ve Done’ as the band was heavily involved in its creation. Multiple songs came from different members of the band.
Donnie Walsh contributed the instrumental ‘Evelyn’. Chuck Jackson created “Albany, Albany” and the rollicking ‘Mississippi Woman, Mississauga Man’.
Michael Fonfara fashioned the title track ‘Something I’ve Done’ and ‘Can’t Get Mad at You’ Gary Kendall composed ‘Take A Piece of My Heart’ and ‘Mailbox Money’ and Mike Fitzpatrick wrote ‘Into the Fire.’
All in all, this album is as good as Can You Hear the Music? Does that mean another Juno is headed for the Downchild mantlepiece? Who knows? But we’ll find out the weekend of March 24, 25.
Something I’ve Done Tour 2018
Downchild hits the road with a few dates in the upcoming months.
March 2nd in Peterborough at the Market Hall Performing Arts Centre
March 3rd in Ottawa at the Shenkman Arts Centre
April 20th in Belleville at the Empire Theatre
April 21st in Oshawa at the Regent Theatre
For more information go to http://www.downchild.com/tour.php
Until next week, make sure you Flip, Flop and Fly with some great blues music.