Iconic Canadian Blues Band Downchild is busily celebrating their 50th Anniversary with a tour that would still be happening were it not for the pandemic. Fortunately for us we will have a document of their fabulously well-attended show as part of Downtown Jazz last June. Dan Aykroyd and Crystal Skull vodka have sponsored Donnie Walsh and band to present a full-scale revue, an evening of Downchild tunes with a guest roster to drool over. With Chuck Jackson on vocals & harp, Pat Carey on tenor sax, Michael Fonfara on keyboards, Gary Kendall on bass and Mike Fitzpatrick on drums, this band is very much ‘worn in but by no means worn out’. Indeed, they’ve been rejuvenated. This was the opening show of the tour and we get a gorgeous package, complete with Aykroyd’s intros. “Can You Hear the Music?” makes for a fantastic show opener – vintage Downchild arrangements. After a lovely slice of R&B from We Deliver, “Understanding & Affection”, the guest list gets off to a roaring start. “It’s A Matter of Time” features David Wilcox on the slide with Donnie and he also trades verses with Chuck. They stay in the groove dueling on Elmore James’ “Madison Blues” – the crowd went wild. After another recent composition, “One in A Million”, from Can You Hear The Music?, alumnus Gene Taylor made his way to the keyboard for the rousing vintage Downchild staple “I’m Going to Tell Your Mother”, which as usual is a feature for Donnie on harp. Finland’s ‘Queen of the Slide Guitar’ Erja Lyytinen was a surprise guest on the tour and she joined Chuck Jackson for a great version of “Mississippi Woman Mississauga Man” the single from the JUNO-nominated Something I’ve Done. Perhaps her solo song will show up on her next album. Kenny Neal was in Downchild in the 70’s before moving back to Baton Rouge. He solos wonderfully on the magnificent “Shotgun Blues” from Straight Up before the extended finale gets underway with Dan Aykroyd reprising his version of “Soul Man” from the Blues Brothers era. Joining him was fellow Blues Brother & band leader Paul Shaffer, a Thunder Bay native. The finale continued with the must-play “I’ve Got Everything I Need (Almost)”. Ms. Lyytinen returns for another must-play: “Flip, Flip & Fly” to end the main portion. Donnie straps on his slide guitar for the encore, a satisfying “TV Mama” to end. For those of us who were there that night, this is a great momento, if you weren’t, go to www.downchild.com to find out when the tour starts up again. You won’t regret it. The official release date is August 14th.

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