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Legendary Blues Band on their way to Red Deer!

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From The Central Music Festival Society – Click to buy tickets now.

By Mark Weber

The Legendary Downchild Blues Band 50th Anniversary Tour

Few absolutely nail the magic and mystery of the blues quite like the Downchild blues band, a legendary group that is marking 50 trailblazing years in the music biz.

Presented by the Central Music Festival Society, Downchild is slated to perform at Red Deer’s Memorial Centre Oct. 30th.

As noted in their bio, Downchild catapulted to international acclaim as inspiration for Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belush’s smash film The Blues Brothers. In fact, two Downchild tunes – Shotgun Blues and (I Got Everything I Need) Almost were covered on the Blues Brothers 1978 disc Briefcase Full of Blues.

The band is led by founder Donnie ‘Mr. Downchild’ Walsh on guitar and harmonica, singer Chuck Jackson who also plays harmonica, tenor sax man Pat Carey, Michael Fonfara on keyboards, Gary Kendall on bass and drummer Mike Fitzpatrick.

Jackson, who signed on with Downchild 30 years ago, noted that the band made tremendous headway right from the get-go as there weren’t a lot of blues bands criss-crossing the continent in those early days.

Everyone can identify with the blues,” he added of the genre’s unfading and historic appeal. “Everyone has their bad days in different ways. And originally, blues music was meant to help you get over your blues and pick you up and to help you forget about your troubles,” he said, noting that Downchild is known for the band’s ‘jump blues’ style.

Essentially, it’s an up-tempo feel that weaves in elements of swing, and also often features sax or brass.

As to the band’s astounding longevity, Jackson points out that really, the essence of the group hasn’t changed a whole lot over the years. “The band knows what it does. We write all our own music, and of course a lot of it has to do with our leader Donnie Walsh ‘Mr. Downchild’.”

Also, there’s a cohesiveness amongst the members that keeps the vision front and centre as well. “We’ve got a great relationship, and we just stay true to what we are. We play the blues, we don’t (stray) from that, and we’ve got great fans. Really, we have generations of fans – we’ve got grandparents that bring out their grandchildren to see us!

We’ve played everywhere across Canada and beyond – it’s been amazing, it’s really opened up the blues all around the world.

We’ve played in Central America, the United States, Canada, Europe – there was a time I never had any idea I would get to play the blues in Costa Rica or Jamaica or Norway or France.”

As mentioned, it’s that connection to their loyal fan base that also means the world to them. “We sign autographs and CDs after the shows and everyone is so happy that we are still continuing after 50 years,” he noted with gratitude. “They will tell us stories about how we played at their high school graduation, or how we played at a company Christmas party – so we’ve really got a great, great fan base and it’s always wonderful to see everyone.”

As for Jackson, that vocal ability started to surface when he was just a kid – singing in church choirs.

There were the jams and just getting together with like-minded folks to play and sing and pass the time. “People entertained themselves – we didn’t have 120 stations on the TV.

Lots of families had instruments and would sit around and play. People would come over and dance, so it was quite different then compared to what it’s like nowadays.”

Jackson was raised by his grandparents, pointing out that his grandpa played the spoons and was also a square dance caller. So music was in the blood, and those early influences left an indelible mark on a young Jackson.

It wasn’t long before he was honing his own skills as both a vocalist and a harmonica player, too. “That was my introduction to music. When I was in Grade 9, of course we were all wanting to be the next Beatles,” he added with a laugh. He started his first band with a few high school buddies, and it was around the time he was 16 that he discovered the blues.

A new path was struck.

I had to check into it, so I started buying old blues albums,” he said.

These days, Jackson couldn’t imagine a better road to have traveled, what with the explosive shows, the joy of collaboration, the life-changing friendships and opening for legendary artists from B.B. King to the Bee Gees to Joe Cocker.

They also kicked off this year’s anniversary shows with a performance at the Toronto Jazz Festival in front of thousands that also included none other than Aykroyd and Paul Shaffer.

It’s everything. It just keeps you going. People tell us what we add to their lives, and you just can’t replace that wonderful feeling. Sure, we have our days when we spend the whole day on a bus and we are dead tired. But as soon as you get onstage, you see the audience and you just light up.

Being able to play the music I love and entertain the wonderful people across Canada and around the world is certainly a dream come true and one I will continue to follow.

We are just going to keep going until we can’t anymore.”

Click to buy tickets now

For more information, click here.

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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CP NewsAlert: Kris Davis, Matthew Stevens win Grammy for best jazz instrumental album

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TORONTO — Vancouver-born jazz pianist and composer Kris Davis and Toronto-born jazz guitarist Matthew Stevens are among the team that won a Grammy Award for best jazz instrumental album with “New Standards Vol. 1.”

Will be updated. 

David Friend, The Canadian Press


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Lauded fashion designer Paco Rabanne dies at age 88

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PARIS (AP) — Paco Rabanne, the Spanish-born pace-setting designer known for perfumes sold worldwide and his metallic, space-age fashions, has died, the group that owns his fashion house announced on its website Friday. He was 88.

“The House of Paco Rabanne wishes to honor our visionary designer and founder who passed away today at the age of 88. Among the most seminal fashion figures of the 20th century, his legacy will remain,” the statement from Puig said.

Rabanne’s fashion house shows its collections in Paris, and is scheduled to unveil the brand’s latest ready-to-wear designs during fashion week from Feb. 27-March 3.

The Associated Press

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