THE LEGENDARY DOWNCHILD BLUES BAND are throwing a hometown party in Toronto to celebrate their 50th Anniversary – and you’re all invited! The not-to-be-missed performance on Bloor Street is part of the Toronto International Jazz Festival on Saturday, June 22, 2019 at 9:00 Pm and the best part is it’s free.
Downchild will be joined on stage by the one and only, Mr. DAN AYKROYD of Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters fame! PAUL SHAFFER, perhaps best known as the musical director and band leader for the David Letterman show and The Blues Brothers live band, will also hit the stage with Downchild, alongside, Canadian blues-rock icon, David Wilcox and former Downchild alumni, American bluesman and 2019 Blues Music Award winner, Kenny Neal from Louisiana and Austin, TX based piano player Gene Taylor of Fabulous Thunderbirds. More surprise guests to be announced!
Watch a live performance of Downchild performing “Soulman’ with Dan Aykroyd for their 40th Anniversary at Massey Hall below.
It’s hard to believe it’s been half a century since, bandleader, songwriter, guitarist and harmonica player Donnie “Mr. Downchild” Walsh and his brother, the late Richard “Hock” Walsh, formed The Legendary DOWNCHILD Blues Band in Toronto, ON in June 1969.
From humble beginnings, DOWNCHILD performed their first gig at Grossman’s Tavern in Toronto. Fittingly, the band will return to the infamous juke joint for a rare, intimate club performance, to kick off their year-long 50th Anniversary Tour, with a SOLD-OUT show on June 19, 2019, that will no doubt go down in history.
Named after a Sonny Boy Williamson II song, DOWNCHILD’s story begins when Donnie “Mr. Downchild” Walsh was a mere teenager and got his first taste of Blues at a sweet 16 birthday party for his girlfriend. “I was absolutely amazed by the music and, like most people who heard blues, started looking for more,” says Donnie, who soon discovered artists like Muddy Waters, Jimmy Read, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy and B.B. King.
Inspired by those classic sounds, DOWNCHILD launched an unstoppable career that has included 18 albums, countless awards and sold-out shows around the globe. The band’s 1971 debut Bootleg, one of the first independent albums in Canada, was recorded in a makeshift studio in parking garage at Rochdale College. Soon after, they scored their first smash hit with a jumping version of Big Joe Turner’s classic “Flip Flop & Fly.”
“I was pretty lucky to get a hit record just a few years after starting the band. As I like to say, if you have a hit record, the rest is geography. You just get in the van and go, and that’s what we did. For the longest time, we played 250 to 300 dates a year,” says Donnie.
DOWNCHILD came to international prominence as the inspiration for Hollywood stars Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi’s smash film The Blues Brothers. In fact, two Downchild songs, “Shotgun Blues” and “(I Got Everything I Need) Almost” were even covered on The Blues Brothers’ 1978 multi-platinum album Briefcase Full of Blues.
A documentary on the band, “Flip Flop & Fly – 40 Years of the Downchild Blues Band” was featured repeatedly on HBO Canada for two years, as one of their most popular documentaries ever.
The current lineup of DOWNCHILD features some of the most well-respected musicians in the country, who have performed together for over 25 years: Lead singer and harmonica player CHUCK JACKSON, PAT CAREY on tenor sax, MIKE FITZPATRICK on drums, GARY KENDALL on bass, and former American super-group rocker MICHAEL FONFARA (of Rhinoceros/Lou Reed fame) on keyboards.
50TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR DATES
19/06/19 Grossman’s Tavern (SOLD OUT) Toronto, ON
21/06/19 Rochester International Jazz Festival Rochester, NY**
22/06/19 Toronto International Jazz Festival Toronto, ON*
20/07/19 Porquis Rock N Blues Festival Porquis Junction, ON
17/08/19 Chenango Blues Festival Norwich, NY
29/08/19 Charles W. Stockey Centre Parry Sound, ON
28/09/19 Regent Theatre Oshawa, ON
18/10/19 McPherson Playhouse Victoria, BC
19/10/19 Sid Williams Theatre Courtenay, BC
20/10/19 The Port Theatre Nanaimo, BC
22/10/19 Tidemark Theatre Campbell River, BC
24/10/19 Kelowna Community Theatre Kelowna, BC
25/10/19 Charles Bailey Theatre Trail, BC
26/10/19 Key City Theatre Cranbrook, BC
30/10/19 Memorial Centre Theatre Red Deer, AB
01/11/19 Festival Place Sherwood Park, AB
05/11/19 Vic Juba Theatre Lloydminster, AB
08/11/19 Bella Concert Hall Calgary, AB
09/11/19 Esplanade Theatre Medicine Hat, AB***
12/11/19 Lyric Theatre Swift Current, SK
16/11/19 E.A. Rawlinson Centre Prince Albert, SK
21/11/19 FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre St. Catharines, ON
22/11/19 Showplace Performance Centre Peterborough, ON
23/11/19 Orillia Opera House Orillia, ON
29/11/19 National Arts Centre Ottawa, ON*
27/03/20 River Run Centre Guelph, ON
23/04/20 Capitol Theatre Moncton, NB
07/05/20 Richmond Hill Performing Arts Centre Richmond Hill, ON
* Featuring Dan Aykroyd, Paul Shaffer, David Wilcox, Kenny Neal, Gene Taylor
** Featuring Dan Aykroyd
*** Featuring Colin James