Downchild Blues Band ready to rock Stone Crop

MORRISBURG – Not every band can claim that it was the inspiration for a smash hit Hollywood movie. Or that it has been drawing legions of cheering fans for more than 50 years. Or that it has won numerous musical awards and enjoys a huge international reputation.

The Downchild Blues Band, coming to Stone Crop Acres Winery on Sunday, July 31, at 7 pm, through Harmony Concerts, can make all those claims. And more.

Considered one of the music world’s foremost, most celebrated bands, one which has been around since 1969, Canadian band Downchild Blues has built a reputation for spectacular music and for a dynamic, thrilling stage presence. In fact, the band has a name for their effect on audiences: jump blues.

During an interview with the Morrisburg Leader, I asked Chuck Jackson, long-time harmonica player and lead vocalist with Downchild Blues just what that phrase, “jump blues” means. “It means getting up, getting to your feet and moving,” he explained. “We want our audiences stepping to the tunes, swinging to the tunes. We hope people dance and have a great time at our show.”

Downchild Blues had actually kicked off their anticipated 50th anniversary tour in 2019 at the Toronto Jazz Festival. And then COVID arrived. “Naturally, our tour got delayed,” Chuck said. “So we consider that we are now on the road finally celebrating that special milestone. Longest running anniversary in history,” he laughed.

He talked of the power and appeal of the blues. “The blues grew out of slavery in the American South. Music was a chance for slaves to cope with hardships, to release their tragedy. But the Blues has since become the inspiration for just about every style of American music from jazz, to rock and roll to modern rock. The Blues is about too much drinking, about the good times and the bad times, about being in love and out of love. Blues take in the whole human experience: the Blues have had a huge influence on North American culture and music.”

Certainly the music of Downchild Blues connected with one special Canadian – Dan Aykroyd. He and John Belushi loved the music of the Toronto band so much that it became the inspiration for their beloved movie – ‘The Blues Brothers.’ “We even looked like Dan and John,” Chuck laughed. “Dan used to regularly come from performing at Second City and watch our band. He even put two of our pieces into his movie, including ‘I’ve Got Everything I Need Almost.’ We were the inspiration for the Blues Brothers band for sure.”

For a group of musicians who, for years, had barely gone a week without playing live somewhere, the COVID shutdowns were tough. “I wrote a lot of songs over the months. We did backyard parties and kept up virtual shows, like the Tim Hortons Hustle. And actually, on a personal note, I got sick with cancer during the shut downs and in that time off, I was able to take my treatments, get my voice back and fully recover. So in, a way, with my health good now, being unable to tour was a kind of blessing.”

The band members love to travel, performing in all kinds of venues internationally. What keeps that love of performing alive is the fans. “Our fans are great, and they are devoted. The love of the Blues passes over the generations, because the Blues have such an appeal. Far from being sad, this is music with a beat that picks you up and makes you feel better. This music gives you joy.”

When he writes, Chuck explained that “almost anything can put a new idea in my head. I can be driving and spot a billboard or something, and suddenly an idea appears. We write about loss and longing. We write about our children, our families. I also try to put some comedy into the music, like in “Mississippi Woman, Mississauga Man.”

With the excellent Paul Reddick Band opening for them at the Winery, the concert July 31 by the phenomenal Downchild Blues will be a memorable one. “People are going to hear our biggest hits, a variety of songs from all our albums,” said Chuck Jackson. “It’s going to be a great cross section of music. And there will be no sitting on your hands! We want everyone boppin’ to the blues.”

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