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The First Recipients Of The “Erin McCallum Blues Legend & Legacy Distinction” Have Been officially Recognized.


Chuck Jackson: Blues Legend


       As of 2023, singer, songwriter, harmonica player and entertainer, Chuck Jackson, has been actively immersed in the Canadian Blues Collective for a generation, and continues to be one of the most identifiable performers and contributors in Canadian Blues.  His contributions to the Canadian Blues Collective reach further than his own notable career, which solidifies Chuck Jackson’s title of “Blues Legend”, as outlined by the strict mandate for this distinction.  For over 50 years of live musical performance, and for serving as a Founder and Director for the Southside Shuffle in Port Credit, Ontario for 25 years, Chuck Jackson exemplifies what it means to be a “Blues Legend” via the “Erin McCallum Blues Legend & Legacy Distinction”.  Jackson was presented with a physical representation of his Blues Legend status on August 17th, 2023 at the Beggars Blues Banquet at the Port Credit Legion, in Port Credit, Ontario.  The Beggars Blues Banquet serves as the official launch to the Southside Shuffle each year, and in accepting his Distinction on stage at the sold-out event, Jackson gave a brief speech.  In part, he said:


       “I never thought I’d become a legend at the Legion! (audience laughter) You know, it’s kind of ironic that 50 years ago I played my very first gig, right here, on this stage…I really want to say thank you for this award; you know, I’ve received a few awards over my life, but this one is really special because a lot of times, a lot of great musicians that inspired me didn’t really get recognition. Two of them were “Hock” Walsh, who was the original singer of The Downchild Blues Band – he was the original Blues Brother, he was Donnie’s brother - and one of the finest piano players that I’ve ever heard, and that was Jane Vasey, and now they’re going to get a chance to be recognized.”


Chuck Jackson’s Blues Legacy Selections


       Being recognized with the Blues Legend Distinction provides immediate authority to select up to two eligible artists to be recognized with the Blues Legacy Distinction.  Upon receiving the distinction of Blues Legend, Chuck named Richard “Hock” Walsh and Jane Vasey to be honoured for their contributions to the Canadian Blues Collective.

Richard “Hock” Walsh (1948-1999)

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      Richard Walsh, known as “Hock” Walsh was best known as the co-founder and original singer of The Downchild Blues Band.  He was one of the first Canadian musicians who dedicated themselves exclusively to the Blues genre, as evidenced in the Downchild Blues Band.  Also known as one of the “original Blues Brothers”, “Hock” served as part of the inspiration (alongside his brother Donnie) for Dan Aykroyd’s development of the popular characters “The Blues Brothers” (the “Jake Blues” character is said to be modeled after “Hock”).  The song that most people identify as his signature song is a song co-written and popularized by Big Joe Turner, “Flip Flop and Fly”. 


       In addition to co-founding The Downchild Blues Band, Walsh departed from the band several times (returning in 1977 and 1985-1990), but remained an active performer on the Canadian Blues scene, and served as a founding member for a project that would become the notable Toronto based band, the Cameo Blues Band.  Richard “Hock” Walsh remained an active participant in the Canadian Blues Collective until his passing on New Year’s Eve in 1999.  His work can be found on 6 commercial releases, and “Flip Flop and Fly” remains Downchild’s only hit single to date.

Jane Vasey (1949-1982)


      Jane Vasey is a pianist, best known for her musical contributions in the Downchild Blues Band.  She served as the band’s piano player from 1973 until her passing in 1982.  Vasey held a Masters degree in Music and Bachelor of Arts degree (majoring in Art) from the University of Manitoba prior to joining the Downchild Blues Band, and her playing is featured on all of the singles released by Downchild (10 singles from 1973-1981).  The song most associated with Vasey’s playing is “Trying To Keep Her 88s Straight”, which was considered a minor Canadian hit in 1980; the song remains actively performed in live settings today.  Vasey’s work can be heard on 19 album releases with various projects, under multiple labels such as Attic, Stony Plain, Blue Wave. 


       After her passing in 1982, a scholarship was founded in her name; The Jane Vasey Memorial Scholarship was established at Brandon University to sponsor keyboard students, and it remains an active annual scholarship.  Through her music, and an active scholarship in her name, Jane Vasey’s contributions to the Canadian Blues Collective are ongoing.

Read Erin McCallum's Full Exclusive Feature Article On Chuck Jackson On Her Monthly Column, Behind The Curtain, For The Sound Cafe.    VIEW ARTICLE HERE 

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Listen On Demand As Ken Wallis Chats With Erin McCallum And Chuck Jackson For His Radio Show And Podcast, Blues Source Canada, Which Airs Weekly Here On Blues & Roots Radio, And Also Is Available Weekly On The Sound Cafe.

Erin McCallum Blues Legend & Legacy Distinction Criteria

This distinction, established by Erin McCallum, is to recognize and honour artists who have made significant contributions to the Canadian Blues Music Collective. The intention is to provide a unique and credible recognition to artists based on their musical merit, influence, and impact within the Canadian Blues community. The Blues Legend & Legacy Distinction also provides a peer-driven platform for artists to recognize colleagues whose contributions meet the same criteria for this distinction.


How It Works:
Blues Legend Distinction:
The distinction of “Blues Legend” is selected and awarded by Erin McCallum, based upon outlined and established criteria.


Blues Legacy Distinction: 
The distinction of “Blues Legacy” is selected by an artist who receives the Blues Legend Distinction.  

*All artists with the distinction of “Blues Legend” have the opportunity to give the distinction of “Blues Legacy” to as many as two artists who meet the criteria. This provides “Blues Legends” the right to honour their colleagues, and strengthens the diversity of the artists who will be recognized. This structure maintains the credibility of the distinction, and offers fair representation of eligible artists via peer-driven recognition.  


Blues Legend Distinction 

Artists who are eligible for the Blues Legend Distinction must meet requirements outlined below:
   ⁃    Must have been a resident, citizen, or be a current resident/citizen of Canada.
   ⁃    Have a minimum of 25 years experience as a performing artist.
   ⁃    Be recognizable within the Canadian Blues community.
   ⁃    Made a significant contribution to the Canadian Blues music through their musical influence and/or musicianship as a participating member of the Blues community.  

Blues Legacy Distinction 
Artists who are eligible for the Blues Legacy Distinction must meet the requirements outlined below:
   ⁃    Must have been a resident or citizen of Canada. 
   ⁃    Be deceased 
   ⁃    Made a significant contribution within the Canadian Blues community 
   ⁃    Be awarded the distinction by someone who is named a “Blues Legend” by Erin McCallum


About Erin McCallum:

Erin McCallum - Photo Credit: Harry Dunbar Photography

Blues singer, songwriter, musician, performer, investigative writer, and contributor to the Canadian Blues Collective for decades, Erin McCallum, was inspired to develop an official distinction that is based on the foundation of peer-driven recognition. The basis of this inspiration is to provide a space for recognition that honours eligible artists based strictly upon their musical merits and contributions, without political bias or influences outside of the eligible artist’s musical merits/contributions. The Blues Legend & Legacy Distinction does not operate by submissions, deadlines, vote or committee, however, offers opportunity to recognize artists, and inform and educate Blues fans, through its structure of peer-driven selection of the Blues Legacy Distinction. This structure is unique to the Canadian Blues Music Collective, in the sense that it is strictly artist driven, self funded, and possess a high criteria for recognition.

This distinction is not sponsored by any record companies, managers or entities, and will not profit financially through any fees, memberships, or payments. Due to its high mandate/criteria, The Blues Legend & Legacy Distinction will remain an elite honour that recipients themselves have the authority to contribute to - maintaining the intention and integrity of merit based recognition it is founded on.


Each artist who is selected to receive the distinction of “Blues Legend” will be notified, and presented with a physical award, commemorating their contribution(s) to the Blues.

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