That Downchild is still with us and sounding so good is one of the wonders of our world. From those early days at Grossman’s to their concert hall & festival appearances today, the quality of those eighteen albums over fifty years is truly remarkable. A band that was (in)famous for lineup changes has now had the same one for some twenty years. The sound didn’t vary much back then because Donnie Walsh was the principal songwriter and leader but now that instantly identifiable Downchild sound continues with each band member contributing. We get started in true jump blues mode with the uptempo “Albany, Albany” contributed by Chuck Jackson, lamenting his mistreating lady. The chameleon-voiced Mr. Jackson drops to an unusual key for a non-band original, David Vest’s “(Everybody’s) Worried About The World (Nobody’s Worrying About Me)”.

It’s a more straight-ahead blues with a very catchy group chorus. Keyboard wizard Michael Fonfara’s “Can’t Get Mad At You” is also in a different key, with a searing slide solo from Donnie. The first single (and the somewhat unusual video, on YouTube) is also by Chuck: “Mississippi Woman, Mississauga Man” just chugs along perfectly.

Donnie’s harmonica is the response to the vocal’s call and Fonfara tickles those ivories wonderfully in the background. Bassist Gary Kendall contributes his first one next, a lovely R&B ballad about leaving, “Take A Piece Of My Heart” – an impassioned Chuck vocal is matched by Pat Carey’s stunning sax solo. Gary’s other one is a rocking jump blues about money not arriving, “Mailbox Money” – Donnie on guitar & Pat on sax.

John Witmer was the vocalist for Downchild’s Live at the El Mocambo set But, I’m On The Guest List. John’s “She Thinks I Do” comes from that time but was never recorded, it’s ‘rollicking and wryly mournful’, says Donnie who also says it acts here as a tribute to John, who passed away in 2004. Fonfara’s boogie piano opens his “Something I’ve Done”, another fine new jump blues and a great blues title – great harp from Donnie. Drummer Mike Fitzpatrick contributed “Into The Fire”, which takes Chuck out of his comfort zone vocally but he does just fine on this ballad. Donnie’s harp instrumental “Evelyn” takes us out, something that’s become a tradition. If you missed composing credits to Pat Carey, congratulate him on these horn arrangements and ask him about Stepping Out on Blue Monday. This splendid disc will be released on October 13 but the “Something I’ve Done Tour” will be in BC then. I’m sure it will get here soon, just check www.downchild.com.

Top Blues - October 2017
Loose Blues News - October 2017