Downchild Takes It's Rightful Place In Music History

Downchild Blues Band Today

Story: Sandy Graham

The highly anticipated documentary on blues legends Downchild is entitled FLIP FLOP AND FLY 40 YEARS OF THE DOWNCHILD BLUES BAND and will make it's national broadcast premier in Canada on Saturday, December 4, 2010 at 6.25 p.m. on TMN (HBO Canada)

 The documentary was filmed last fall as part of the band's 40th Anniversary Tour and is narrated by their biggest fan, friend and supporter Mr. DAN AYKROYD. FLIP FLOP AND FLY captures the rich history of Canada's ground breaking blues band through candid interviews and "once in a lifetime" live concert footage from their sold out performance at Massey Hall with special guests DAN AYKROYD, COLIN JAMES, American blues legend JAMES COTTON, Stax Records icon WAYNE JACKSON OF THE MEMPHIS HORNS, COLIN LINDEN and JONAS.

The documentary takes us through the various stages of 40 years of Downchild, with the remarkable trademark sound that never veered off the track Don Walsh and his brother Hock started decades ago. As the current lead singer for Downchild, Chuck Jackson (he has been with the band for 20 years) says of that history “When we tried to figure out how many band members we had over the years we came up with around 80, then about 140 wives and girlfriends.” 

Speaking of the group’s unmistakable sound Dan Aykroyd had this to say, ‘It is amazing to me that I was a fan, then a friend of Don Walsh. The ‘Straight Up’ album was the inspiration for The Blues Brothers. John (Belushi) and I stayed up all night listening to it, and The Blues Brothers were born. John was a heavy metal fan until he heard Downchild.” 

The old footage of the band included segments with the late keyboardist Jane Vasey, as well as Tony Flaime, and Hock. Walsh tells a great story of when he fired his little brother as the singer of Downchild. 

“It worked out okay because he was my little brother and I had been doing things to him from the day he was born."


Downchild circa 1973Downchild circa 1973“ Truthfully, he was becoming unreliable. There was one gig that he was late getting up to get in the truck and get to the next town. I woke him up and told him to get himself together – fast. He said he needed a shower first. I was waiting in the truck with the band when he came down the hall in the hotel, past the maids, and outside with his two suitcases, boots on – and the rest of him stark naked. He gave me that deadpan look and said ‘Is this fast enough for you?’

The interesting thing about watching the footage of the legendary Massey Hall Show from last year was the movie crowd at the advance screening (The Royal Theatre, Toronto) treated it like a live show. When James Cotton joined the stage, they applauded. When Colin Linden took a guitar solo that defied speed on the frets, they applauded. When Colin James joined the stage, they applauded. A highlight, of course, was watching Dan  Aykroyd do his Blues Brothers moves across the stage to ‘Soul Man’. It was bittersweet to not see his sidekick, John Belushi backflip onto the stage to join him.

Cut-in interviews with Richard Flohil (Publicist) Holger Peterson (Stony Plain Records) Paul Shaffer (Tonight Show) Colin James (artist) as well as the current line-up of the band, with comments from Chuck Jackson (lead singer) Pat Carey (Sax) Michael Fonfara (keys) Greg Cooper (drums) and Gary Kendall (bass), were done at various places, and the continuing thread was live shots of Don Walsh at the legendary Grossman’s Tavern, where Downchild got its start. 

Dan Ackroyd, Don Walsh and John BelushiDan Ackroyd, Don Walsh and John BelushiKendall quipped ‘ We have all left the band 2 or 3 times and come back. Downchild is a family, and Downchild is a sound no one can change or duplicate.’ Don Walsh agrees with that. ‘ Yes, I have tried over the years to keep the original sound Hock and I created together. I always tell the members it is in their best interest to keep to that sound, that is if they want to stay in the band.’

Many miles, many tears, many smiles and of course always the music. Finally, Downchild Blues Band is getting some recognition for putting blues on the map in Canada. Kudos boys.


Saturday, December 4, 2010 at 6:25 pm (EST) on TMN (HBO Canada)