Downchild will blast the Blues at KCT

Canada’s Premier Blues Outfit Celebrating 50th Anniversary With North American Tour

Barry Coulter

Canada’s premier testifiers, Downchild, are marking 50 years of the Blues, and taking their celebration across North America, touching down in Cranbrook this Saturday.

The legendary Blues band, formed in 1969, had a plethora of hits like “Flip, Flop and Fly,” “Almost,” and “Shotgun Blues” — these songs were all covered by the famous Blues Brothers, who were heavily influenced by Downchild Blues Band, and helped bring them to new fame at the beginning of a global Blues renaissance in the late ‘70s and ‘80s.

But Downchild has never gone away, never needed a comeback, and neither has the music they extoll — the Blues.

Blues is vital, relevant, and reaching a bigger audience than ever — as is Downchild themselves, says Chuck Jackson, longtime singer and harmonica player with Downchild, who spoke to the Townsman from Toronto prior to hitting the road on tour.

“There’s a lot travelling around, we see a lot of great young Blues performers, a lot of young kids getting into the Blues. Now, with the internet, you can basically see artists and find them on Youtube — it’s a smaller world, there’s festivals all over.

“With Downchild we play in Costa Rica, Panama … Blues has been opened up to the whole world.”

Downchild is designed to be and still is a performing band first and foremost. That’s still where they get their electricity from.

“No doubt about it,” Jackson says. “We love playing — this tour right now, we’re doing 24 dates in 31 days. We’re looking forward to getting out there and seeing you folks [in British Columbia].

“We’re going to showcasing all the great music, over 23 CDs, LPs, tapes, 8-tracks … that we’e recorded over the years, We’re going to be playing a little bit of everything, from the hits, and also some from our latest CD, ‘Something I’ve Done,’ which was nominated for a Juno, and the CD before that, ‘Can You Hear The Music.’”

Named after a Sonny Boy Williamson II song, Downchild Blues Band was formed by Donnie Walsh et al, in Toronto in 1969. Walsh remains the original member from that storied era, though the current line-up has been with the band for decades. Jackson himself joined in 1990, and as been front man ever since.

“It doesn’t get old. 30 years — they tell me one more year and I’ll start getting paid,” Jackson joked.

“The newest guy in the band, Fitzy (Mike Fitzpatrick), has been in the band 20 years. We got a great group of guys, and some of the best musicians in the country. It’s always a joy to step on the stage with all those guys, and especially our leader, Mr. Downchild Donnie Walsh.”

Donnie Walsh and Downchild have been called “the Father of Canadian Blues,” and that scene is flourishing today.

“In Canada now, there are so many great Blues bands now, with players coming up,” Jackson said. “And the interesting thing about Canadian Blues is that pretty much everybody is writing original music, writing their own tunes. It’s a great thing. I have a Blues festival I do in Mississauga called the Junior Jam, we get kids nine, 10 years old playing. It’s a fantastic scene.

“The Blues community is really tight. We see each other on the road, we get together and jam, it’s a nice family.”

Downchild Blues Band celebrates their 50th anniversary at the Key City Theatre in Cranbrook on Saturday, Oct. 26, at 7:30 pm. “Every year is a celebration when you get to be our age,” Jackson said. “Come on out. It’s going to be a fabulous show, We’re going to be playing some great stuff.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ktunaxa, supporters celebrate protection of Qat’muk and the Jumbo valley

Speeches, acknowledgements and ceremonies mark an emotional gathering in Cranbrook

Jumbo Valley to be protected, ending decades-long dispute over proposed ski resort

Development rights permanently retired for site of proposed year-round ski resort west of Invermere

Matt Andersen to tear it up in Cranbrook

Canadian singer, songwriter and guitarist showcasing new album at February concert at Key City Theatre

It happened this week in 1913

Jan. 12 -18: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the newspapers at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

COTR Avalanche back in action for 2020

The College of the Rockies Avalanche volleyball teams are back in action… Continue reading

Prince Harry: ‘Powerful media’ is why he’s stepping away

Prince Harry and Megan have stepped away from their royal commitments

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

How to beat Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year

Multiple factors can play a role in seasonal depression, says Fraser Health psychiatrist

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

Most Read