Downchild, the legendary Canadian blues band that helped inspire the characters and sound of the The Blues Brothers, will headline a benefit concert at Olde Walkerville Theatre on Dec. 7 (tonight) to raise money for Windsor music icon Kim “The Commander” Kelly, who was paralyzed in a fall, and to further support Sparky’s Toy Drive.
Twenty-eight year veteran vocalist Chuck Jackson has been with the band for the last half of its lifespan. He spoke with 519 about Downchild and his passion for the blues.
The Blues Brothers really had a unique blues sound, but that sound clearly resonates from Downchild itself. Does the band still keep that same vibe and feeling after all these years?
Sure does. You know our thing is we like to make sure people are dancing, we do a lot of jump blues and we’re still recording fresh new material all the time. Our newest CD was nominated for a Juno and our last CD won the Juno. So yeah, we’re still writing songs, still in that tradition of Downchild and it’s that same tradition that the Blues Brothers followed when they did three of our songs on their first album. We just played a show with Dan Aykroyd last week, so that friendship is still alive.
Is there a certain sound or feel that you think Canadian blues has that might be different from American blues?
I think it’s quite an eclectic variety of Canadian blues musicians and doing all styles. We do have our own style with Downchild, but all the blues musicians in Canada have been influenced heavily by American blues. It can even be broken down by style – the Chicago blues style, the urban style, some jump blues, some of the Delta blues and even country blues. There’s a wide range of blues that’s gathered and influenced by so many different Canadian artists.
Blues dates back to the 1920s, but Canada never really got into the game until the 50s. Some say Ronnie Hawkins is the Canadian grandfather of the blues. Who was your intro to the blues?
Well Buddy Guy was one of the first blues artists I ever saw. But you know I listened to so many different artists like Paul Butterfield and Muddy Waters. B.B. King, was also a big influence. Junior Wells was big influence on me playing harmonica. A lot of the British blues invasion like Eric Clapton and John Mayall were playing the blues and they kind of inspired me to find out who the original artists were. And I started listening to Sonny Boy Williamson and the great Chess performers like Little Walter. I’ve pretty much listened to all the blues greats like Willie Dixon and Howlin’ Wolf, who again, is another big influence on me.
You’ve been to Windsor many times, but not in years. Have you ever been to the Olde Walkerville Theatre?
I don’t think so. You know we played Windsor so many times over the years with Downchild. It used to be a big stop and a lot of it had to do with Kim Kelly, who would book us. This show is a fundraiser for our old friend.
So what can we expect that the show?
Well you’re going to get a lot of our new songs from our last two Juno nominated and Juno winning CDs, and you’re going to get a lot of the fan favorites like Flip Flop Fly, Almost and Shotgun Blues as the Blues Brothers covered. Just a little something from all our albums. We’re going into our 50th year and we’re going to be doing a new tour in the new year featuring songs from all 20 of our albums.
Downchild will perform with local guests A.J. Vanden Berghe, Dusty D’Anunnzio and Sean Shepard at Olde Walkerville Theatre tonight (Friday, Dec. 7).
Tickets start at $40 and are available at the box office.