50th Anniversary CD: Live At The Toronto Jazz Festival
Diesel Management Productions
Donnie and Hock Walsh founded The Downchild Blues Band in 1969. The band’s name comes from the song “Mr. Downchild” by Sonny Boy Williamson II. The band is also known as Downchild as the name was shortened in the early 1980’s. Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi decided to use the band as the prototype for a one-time skit on Saturday Night Live; inventing the multi-platinum selling Blues Brothers.
Downchild has eighteen previous albums and many of them have been re-issued multiple times. Their last album was 2017’s “Something I’ve Done” on Linus Entertainment. That album resulted in them receiving their third Juno Award nomination; the Canadian equivalent to our Grammy Awards. Downchild has won two previous Juno Awards including one for “Can You Hear the Music”, the 2014 “Blues Album of the Year”. They also have four Maple Blues Awards; Canada’s version of our Blues Music Awards. Individually Donnie Walsh, named “Mr. Downchild”, was inducted into The Canadian Blues Museum Hall of Fame in 2010. Downchild has played alongside Muddy Waters; B.B. King, and Buddy Guy.
Currently Downchild still includes co-founder Walsh, guitar, harmonica and lead vocals; the two-time Maple Blues Award winning “Male Vocalist of The Year” and harmonica player Chuck Jackson; the six-time Maple Blues Award winning “Horn Player of the Year” Pat Carey on tenor sax; the four-time MBA winning keyboardist Michael Fonfara; the seven-time MBA winning “Bassist of The Year” Gary Kendall; and the two-time MBA winning drummer Mike Fitzpatrick. The band is joined by Peter Jeffrey on trumpet.
This album was produced and recorded in June, 2019 at the Toronto Jazz Festival by L. Stu Young whose association with the band dates back to 1995. Featured are some very special guests. Downchild opens with “Can You Hear the Music” the title track off their 2013 award winning album. The Walsh penned “Understanding & Affection” is reprised from the DBB’s 1980 recording “We Deliver”.
Canadian blues-rock guitarist David Wilcox, originally Amos Garrett’s replacement in Ian and Sylvia’s band “The Great Specked Bird”, is featured on both the Walsh written “It’s A Matter of Time” re-prised from Downchild’s 2009 live album; and Elmore James’ “Madison Blues” first recorded by the DBB in 1974.
“One In A Million” is another Walsh original from their 2013 “Can You Hear the Music”. Jimmy McCracklin’s “I’m Gonna Tell Your Mother” recorded by the DBB on 1982’s “But, I’m On The Guest List” features ex-member Gene Taylor on piano. “Mississippi Woman, Mississauga Man” first recorded in 2017 on “Something I’ve Done” features Finnish guitarist/vocalist Erja Lyytinen.
“Shot Gun Blues”, “I Got Everything I Need (Almost)” and DBB’s adaptation of Big Joe Turner’s “Flip, Flop and Fly”, are the three songs recorded by the Blues Brothers on their 1978 best-selling “Briefcase Full of Blues”. Featured on these are special guests: guitarist and ex-band member Kenny Neal, vocalist Aykroyd, keyboardist Paul Shaffer, pianist Taylor, and additional guitarists Wilcox and Lyytinen as they join the illustrious Downchild. Also included is Sam and Dave’s 1967 classic “Soul Man” covered by The Blues Brothers on that same album. The band closes with Big Joe Turner’s “T.V. Mama” first recorded in 1958.
This fabulous set serves as both a fiftieth anniversary celebration and as a “best of” collection. If you don’t already own any Downchild recordings or if you just want to add to your collection, this one is for you.