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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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Comedy

The ultimate penalty for package thieves – A hilarious Christmas story of revenge

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You may be familiar with Mark Rober. Mark is an engineer who loves to put his profession to work for him in curious and extremely entertaining ways.  His video called Building the Perfect Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder has been watched more than 53 Million times!

Well here’s a new video and the timing is perfect.  Considering the combination of COVID19 and online Christmas shopping, package thieves are undoubtedly busier than ever.   A couple of years ago the creator of this video had a package stolen from his front step and when there was nothing police could do about it, he decided to take his revenge and do his part to decrease the practice of poaching packages.

For anyone who has had a package stolen from their step, here’s your revenge!  Mark admits it’s a bit petty, but his overall goal is to steer people away from making poor decision.  Take a few minutes to enjoy Mark’s amazing work.

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Comedy

3 Questions for John Wing (The Tonight Show, America’s Got Talent, Just For Laughs)

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I think it’s safe to say my first large scale comedy show I ever put on was bringing John Wing to town. Two sold out shows back to back in a market that hadn’t really seen that kind of comedy talent in a long time. John had just finished up a stint on America’s Got Talent and I remember thinking “holy heck, he’s actually coming here…”

“I’m not a BARBARIAN, you know!”
– John Wing

Since then I have remained somewhat buds with John and have followed his journey over the last several years. John has performed on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno six times, performed several Just for Laughs and countless other festivals, clubs, cruise ships and more. John is an accomplished author spanning several books and most recently launched his “The Bad Piano Player” podcast.

I caught up with John and gave him the “3 QUESTIONS FOR” treatment.

1) As a Comic who’s normally on tour a huge percentage of the time, what activity if any have you taken up or rekindled to keep the mind occupied?

I started playing the piano three or four hours a day, and planning podcasts. That’s totally what kept me sane. Writing the episodes as well.

2) What’s your favourite memory of being on the Tonight Show?

My first Tonight show was in 1990. Jim McCawley, the guy who booked and wrangled the comics, was holding the curtain, ready to pull it back when I was introduced. We were coming back from commercial. As we did, a couple of seconds before Jay started my intro, McCawley turned to me and said, “Hey, don’t forget your jokes.” I had my set typed out in my suit jacket pocket and I whipped it out for a final scan. Jesus, what an A-hole.

3) Ketchup or no ketchup on your Mac n’ Cheese? Or no Mac n’ Cheese at all?

No Ketchup on anything. I occasionally dip fries in Ketchup one by one, and I like cocktail sauce with shrimp, which is a form of ketchup but never ON anything. I’m not a BARBARIAN, you know!

Check out John’s podcast and enjoy a little you time with your headphones on or cozied up by the fireplace with the bluetooth. The Bad Piano Player Podcast is available on PodTail, Buzzsprout, Apple podcasts and basically anywhere you get your podcast fix. OR JUST CLICK HERE!

.

Click to see more stories on Here to Mars.

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january, 2021

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