Sunday, May 01, 2011

Downchild Blues Band

Music on Sunday @ The Reaction

By Richard K. Barry 

I saw a documentary last week about the Toronto-based Downchild Blues Band. It was, appropriately enough, called Flip, Flop and Fly: 40 Years of the Downchild Blues Band.

What may make this fact more interesting for Americans is that Dan Ackroyd, of Saturday Night Live fame, and movies and other television programs, narrated the film in part because he has been a friend of the group for a long time but also because he patterned the Blues Brothers act that he John Belushi perfected on Downchild. The nucleus of the group had for many years been brothers Donny and Hock Walsh, and it would be easy to see that Belushi borrowed from Hock, who died on New Year's Eve, 1999, not that that's particularly significant.

Ackroyd is quite clear that he and Belushi conceived the Blues Brothers after listening to Downchild. And I'm sure it didn't hurt Downchild's bank account that Ackroyd and Belushi recorded some of their tunes. Sure, the Saturday Night Live alumni were a stage act and not primarily a blues band, but anything that gets the music out there to a wider audience and helps other musicians get work is usually fine with me.

So here's a clip of Downchild doing "Sleep Alone" at Albert's Hall, which used to be upstairs at the Brunswick House in Toronto. Hock is singing. Donny is on guitar. The makeup of the band has changed a lot over the years, but they have always been, and continue to be, what you would call a "working blues band," constantly gigging.

And for no apparent reason, here's a clip of the Blues Brothers doing "Hey Bartender." It's a 1978 live performance. Nice. They always had a great band with them.

(Cross-posted to Music Across the 49th.)

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