Nov./Dec. 2004

Downchild 35th Anniversary & CD Release Party
November 17, 2004 The Mod Club Theatre Toronto

Donnie Walsh and Chuck Jackson

Otis Span used to say, "The blues is a doctor," meaning, playing the blues chases the blues away. The blues must have been doctoring the original band members, Donnie 'Mr. Downchild' Walsh and lead singer Chuck Jackson, because after 35 years they look and sound as good as ever, to say the least.

The same might be said about that more-than-half of the 300 fans? the ones who looked like they might also be 'originals'–as they grooved and danced past the midnight hour in the Mod Club's generous space in front of a bandstand lit up with the best light show in town.

The blues Downchild played last night were not all that blue. When Donnie picked up his guitar and began to wail, Chuck began to shout, "It feels so good to have everything going my way." As the night trucked on, there was more rhythm than blues. I was in the lobby talking with an associate when the band took off on "Tonight I want to dance with you," and a crippled guy limped back onto the floor, found a partner, and started to dance.

Donnie Walsh, Gary Kendall and Pat Carey

During the intermission, some of the smokers on the pavement began to drift towards their cars, probably thinking of work tomorrow, when somebody spotted guitar wizard Jeff Healey getting out of a cab at the entrance. Then it was like this huge vacuum sucked everyone off the sidewalk back into the Club to hear Jeff sit in on the second set.

The excitement in the room was extreme. Jeff was really hot. Someone nearby said they'd never heard Jeff play like that. Soon everybody was dancing. And singing. The band and Jeff closed the show, fittingly, with a tune from the bands' first album' that has the line "I got everything I need," and the audience hollers back, "Almost."

Donnie Walsh and Jeff Healey
This Toronto concert is part of a tour that ends in Montreal on November 24, to promote the new album Come On In that has been years in the making and features Jeff Healey, James Cotton, and Penti Glan. Look for a report on that album here soon.
Report by Stanley FeffermanPhotographs by Roger Humbert
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