Live at the Palais Royale

BY David BarnardPublished Nov 17, 2016

Thirty-seven years on, Downchild are like a fine whiskey that gets better with age. Leader and founding member Donnie Walsh (guitar/harmonica) has always taken pride in presenting a first-class show every time the band hit the stage. It’s no wonder that Downchild have earned a reputation amongst fans for delivering "good times, guaranteed.” Recorded last November 2006 in front of a capacity crowd primed for dancing, this CD is more than a souvenir of a fun night out. Over the 11 songs drawn from a deep catalogue of originals, most written by Walsh, plus a couple from singer Chuck Jackson, what you hear is one of the sharpest working blues bands in North America strutting their stuff. The newer songs stand up well to time-tested crowd favourites like "Going Dancing” and "(I Got Everything I Need) Almost.” The sly sense of humour found in many Downchild songs, such as on Jackson’s "Mr. Confused,” featuring searing slide from Walsh, is well documented. Walsh is no singer though, wisely letting Jackson shine at the microphone. Once a night though, he’ll step forward, presenting a talking blues feature, in this case it’s the wry "I’ve Been A Fool,” a song Walsh seems to have a personal connection with. The band deserve a special mention, as these guys are pros, clearly enjoying their gig. Led by Michael Fonfara on piano and Hammond B-3, anchored by drummer Mike Fitzpatrick and bassist Gary Kendall, and goosed by Pat Carey on sax and Peter Jeffrey on trumpet, they swing, rock, shuffle, grind and jump, switching gears easily from song to song.

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