Downchild first performed its spirited brand of jump-band and Chicago-style blues at Grossman's Tavern, Toronto, before moving onto the national club circuit. After the release of their first album, Bootleg, the group was signed by RCA. In 1973, the band's single "Flip, Flop and Fly" (from the LP Straight Up) was a Canadian hit; two other songs from that album, Walsh's "(I Got Everything I Need) Almost" and the Walsh brothers' "Shot Gun Blues," were recorded in 1978 by the Blues Brothers (Briefcase Full of Blues, Atlantic KSD-19217), and the songs' popularity brought Downchild several US engagements. Vasey's "Tryin' to Get Her 88s Straight" was a minor Canadian hit in 1980. Downchild slowed in the years immediately following Vasey's death (of leukemia) but made a comeback in 1987.
Downchild has included several trumpeters, saxophonists, bassists, keyboard players and drummers during its history and by 1990 more than 100 musicians had passed through the band, which has been, variously, a quintet, sextet and septet. Since the early 1990s the core of the band membership has comprised Donnie Walsh, guitar and harmonica; Chuck Jackson (b Toronto, 11 Mar 1953), vocals; Michael Fonfara (b Stevensville, Ont, 11 Aug 1946), keyboards; bassist Gary Kendall; drummer Mike Fitzpatrick; and Pat Carey, saxophone. By 1990 the group had toured Canada more than 25 times, appearing at folk festivals, the NAC, Ontario Place, etc, as well as in countless bars in towns and cities from coast to coast.
In 1991, Downchild received a Juno Award for best roots and traditional album (Gone Fishing). Individually the musicians have each earned several Maple Blues Awards and Downchild was awarded electric act of the year (2005), recording of the year (Come On In, 2005), and entertainer of the year (2005, 2006).
Straight Up. 1973. GRT 9230-1029
Dancing. 1974. GRT 9230-1049/Attic MLAT-1141
Ready to Go. 1975. GRT 9230-1060
So Far: A Collection of Our Best. 1978. Posterity PTR-13004
We Deliver. 1979. Attic LAT-1085 (re-issued in 1988 on CD with Straight Up, Attic ACD-24102)
Road Fever. 1980. Attic LAT-1099
Blood Run Hot. 1981. Attic LAT-1117
But I'm on the Guest List. 1982. Attic LAT-1151
Been So Long. 1987. Stony Plain SPL-1113
Gone Fishing. 1989. Stony Plain SPL-1139
Dancing/Road Fever. 1991. Attic
Good Times Guaranteed. 1994. Downchild Music
Lucky 13. 1997. Downchild Music
It's Been So Long/Ready to Go. 1997. (Re-issue) Stony Plain
A Case of the Blues: The Best of Downchild. 1998. Attic
Come On In. 2004. Downchild Music
Live at the Palais Royale. 2007. Linus Entertainment
I Need A Hat. 2009. Linus Entertainment
Niester, Al. "Jane Vasey," Toronto Globe and Mail, 22 Dec 1979
Flohil, Richard. "Jane Vasey 1949-1982," Toronto Blues Society Newsletter, vol 2, Oct 1986
Valenteyn, John. "Downchild: It's been so long," Toronto Blues Society Newsletter, vol 3, Nov 1987
Quill, Greg. "It's been so long," Toronto Star, 17 Jan 1988
Dafoe, Chris. "Downchild is looking up again," Toronto Globe and Mail, 1 Feb 1988
Links to Other Sites
The website for popular Canadian blues band Downchild. Check out the "Store" for links to audio clips from their recordings.
Downchild Blues Band
Brighten up your day by listening to a few tracks from Downchild Blues Band Recordings on their website.
Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...