Legendary Downchild Blues Band Announce 50th Anniversary Tour

"There would be no Blues Brothers if it weren't for Downchild!" – Dan Aykroyd

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2019 Shaun Murphy 2

Legendary blues band Downchild are celebrating 50 years of the blues – and taking the party across North America. Announced U.S. dates thus far include June 21 at Rochester International Jazz Festival (with special guest Dan Aykroyd); and August 17 at Chenango Blues Festival in Norwich, New York. Additional US tour date announcements are forthcoming.

Downchild Feature Stephen Wild

Hot on the heels of their JUNO-nominated (Canada’s Grammy) 2017 album, Something I’ve Done, Downchild have announced a special 50th Anniversary Tour, bringing their iconic sound and timeless hits to theatres and festivals in Canada and the U.S.

Kicking off with a special show at the tavern in Toronto where it all began, the year-long tour takes the Canadian blues icons throughout North America, and features a special appearance by Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd for a main stage, headline performance at the Rochester International Jazz Festival on June 21st.

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 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 yearlong 50th Anniversary Tour, with a sold-out show on June 19th.

Named after a Sonny Boy Williamson II song, Downchild’s story begins when Donnie 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 Reed, John Lee Hooker 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 a 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,” remembers Donnie. “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.”

Downchild came to international prominence as the inspiration for “Saturday Night Live” television stars Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi’s hit 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.

The current lineup of Downchild features some of the most well-respected musicians in Canada, 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

06/19              Grossman’s Tavern (SOLD OUT)                       Toronto, ON

06/21              Rochester International Jazz Festival                 Rochester, NY*

07/20              Porquis Rock N Blues Festival                            Porquis Junction, ON

08/17              Chenango Blues Festival                                    Norwich, NY

08/29              Charles W. Stockey Centre                                Parry Sound, ON

09/28              Regent Theatre                                                  Oshawa, ON

10/18              McPherson Playhouse                                         Victoria, BC

10/19              Sid Williams Theatre                                            Courtenay, BC

10/20              The Port Theatre                                                 Nanaimo, BC

10/22              Tidemark Theatre                                                Campbell River, BC

10/24              Kelowna Community Theatre                               Kelowna, BC

10/25              Charles Bailey Theatre                                          Trail, BC

10/26              Key City Theatre                                                  Cranbrook, BC

10/30              Memorial Centre Theatre                                      Red Deer, AB

11/01              Festival Place                                                       Sherwood Park, AB

11/05              Vic Juba Theatre                                                   Lloydminster, AB

11/08              Bella Concert Hall                                                  Calgary, AB

11/09              Esplanade Theatre                                                 Medicine Hat, AB**

11/12              Lyric Theatre                                                         Swift Current, SK

11/16              E.A. Rawlinson Centre                                            Prince Albert, SK

11/21              FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre                        St. Catharines, ON

11/22              Showplace Performance Centre                             Peterborough, ON

11/23              Orillia Opera House                                                Orillia, ON

03/27/20        River Run Centre                                                    Guelph, ON

04/23/20        Capitol Theatre                                                       Moncton, NB

05/07/20        Richmond Hill Performing Arts Centre                       Richmond Hill, ON

   * Featuring Dan Aykroyd

** Featuring Colin James

Downchild

*Feature image Stephen Wild