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Legendary Blues Band on their way to Red Deer!


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.


ZED Haunted House opens for another season of scares this week!



Zed haunted house

From Youth HQ

Once again Red Deer’s Most Fatal Attraction will open its doors for two weeks to entertain all ages during the Halloween season. The 29th Annual Zed Haunted House presented by Border Paving runs from October 16th through October 31st at the former GoAuto location in Red Deer. This year’s theme is “You’re Never Alone in the Dark” and promises to be a scream.

The event runs each evening during the event from 6:00pm to 10:00pm, with special feature evenings throughout the event. General admission is $15 at the door, with priority entry “Spook Pass” admissions available for purchase online for $20. Group passes (minimum 10 attendees) are also available in advance by calling or visiting Youth HQ.

Afternoon matinees, geared to children under 10 years of age, occur on Saturday and Sunday during the event’s run from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. Other feature nights include Freaky Friday (October 18), Date Night (October 19), Friday Fright Night (October 25), the Saturday Spooktacular (October 26), Wicked Wednesday (October 30), and a special trick-or-treat edition on All Hallows Eve (October 31).

Midnight Madness returns again this year, sponsored by CARSTAR Red Deer, on Friday, October 25. Running from midnight-2am, the cast prepares to reopen the Haunted House and ups the scare factor. This show is restricted to attendees 18+, with general admission tickets $20 at the door.

John Johnston, Community Engagement Manager for Youth HQ, says the effort put forth by a team of dedicated volunteers has been incredible. “We wouldn’t be able to put on this event without the countless hours of dedication from our volunteers. Between building walls, painting, character training…you name it. The dedication of some really skilled people has made this a success already.”

Volunteers have been busy building the spectacle since late September. We want to acknowledge the numerous returning sponsors for their continued support, including:

  • Zed 98.9 FM
  • Border Paving
  • True Line Homes
  • SERVUS Credit Union
  • G-Force Graphics
  • Herc Rentals
  • CARSTAR Red Deer
  • Cooper Roofing
  • Sunbelt Rentals
  • Spirit Halloween
  • Sound Travels

Thank you also to the more than 30 other business who are friends and supporters of the event, including the several restaurants who support our cast by providing meals throughout the course of the event.

Boys and Girls Club of Red Deer and District thanks the community for their continued support of this event. This year’s fundraising goal is $90000, with 100% of proceeds from the Zed Haunted House go to support the ongoing year-round programming of the clubs in 9 communities in central Alberta.


About Boys & Girls Club of Red Deer and District

Boys and Girls Club provides fun after school and out-of-school programs and activities to give young people the opportunities to develop their potential and achieve their dreams. As youth develop positive, healthy relationships with peers, role models and family members, they can become the best versions of themselves and develop into the leaders of tomorrow. Boys and Girls Club of Red Deer and District was started in 1983, and currently serves over 900 youth in 9 communities around central Alberta.


About Youth HQ

Youth HQ empowers youth by fostering a community of support. Our network seeks to instill young people with confidence in their unique identities and abilities, providing them with skills for life through knowledge, healthy relationships, and quality experiences while providing safe environments to learn and grow. Youth HQ coordinates programming for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Red Deer & District and Boys and Girls Club of Red Deer & District, offering numerous programs and services that support children, youth and families.

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CFR reminder!!! Got your tickets yet? Know about the VIP Cabaret Lounge?



This fall, the Canadian Finals Rodeo is set to return to Westerner Park in Red Deer, Alberta from October 29 – November 3, 2019. The six-day event brings together the very best athletes and fans from across the nation to witness champions competing for the highest honours in Canadian rodeo!

CFR performance tickets are available now!

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VIP Cabaret Lounge

Upgrade your CFR 46 experience with an exclusive ticket to the VIP Cabaret Lounge! Impress your guests with a chance to mingle in the semi-private Lounge as you take in amazing live performances on the TD Cabaret Stage inside the Parkland Pavilion.

Complete with a private cash bar, refreshments and private seating, the VIP Cabaret Lounge is elevated above the crowd for a higher perspective on the party. Experience the VIP Cabaret Lounge from Tuesday, October 29 to Saturday, November 2 from 4 pm – 1 am.

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october, 2019

tue15oct(oct 15)8:22 pmmon28(oct 28)8:22 pmQuest for Gratitude 5 Day Challenge8:22 pm - 8:22 pm (28)

fri25oct6:00 pm9:00 pmRed Deer River Naturalists Banquet/Speaker Night6:00 pm - 9:00 pm MST Event Organized By: Red Deer River Naturalists

sat26oct10:00 am12:00 pmRed Deer River Naturalists Bird Focus Group Walk10:00 am - 12:00 pm MST Maskepetoon Park Event Organized By: Red Deer River Naturalists

tue29oct(oct 29)1:00 amsun03nov(nov 3)1:00 amCanadian Finals Rodeo1:00 am - (november 3) 1:00 am Westerner Park, 4847A-19 Street