Tag Archives: Downchild

Be Part Of A Recording at The Gayety with Chuck Jackson and Tyler Yarema

It will be a special event on Thursday Oct 5th when Chuck Jackson and Tyler Yarema record a live CD at The Gayety Theatre in Collingwood.  The show starts with a set at eight which will be recorded for the CD, but the party starts much earlier and goes beyond the recording.

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Cocktails at 6:30 get you primed for the show with a chance to talk to other concert goers and to Chuck and Tyler while enjoying the music of Jenie Thai (yes, Jenie Thai!).

The second set after the recording will be a big jam with friends of the duo.  If you’ve seen the shows that Tyler has directed at Meaford Hall or The Marsh Street Centre, you know how exciting these jams can be.  And if you’ve seen any of those shows, you also know that the energy level will be bouncing off the ceiling with the evening’s master of ceremonies, Virgil Scott.

“I think of it as an event rather than just another show,” says Tyler, “It’s a chance for people to be part of something.  It’s just going to be a fun show with a lot of audience participation.”  That means if you’re loud enough you might end up on the CD too.

July’s Top 5 Videos

Many of the performers who played in Meaford in July have posted videos on You Tube.  Whenever possible we like to link to these performances in advance of a show to allow you a chance to hear these artists and decide if it is a show you would like to see.  Here is our pick for the Top 5 of those videos that we posted during the month of July.

#5 – “Nellie Kane” by Tim and Doug.  This was part of a post about the Queen’s Bush Annual Bluegrass Campout that happened July 15th to 17th at the Meaford Fair Grounds:

#4 – ‘Runaway” by Too Nice.  This band from Wasaga Beach brightened up what seems to have been the only rainy day of the year on Canada Day with their lively performance.  This video was from a show they had done in Newmarket:


#3 – “Dream” by Emma Wright.  This video is a few years old and Emma Wright has developed her talents even more since then but this beautiful rendition is still inspiring.  When she played at Canada Day, the crowd sat in hushed appreciation through her performance.


#2 – “Words Don’t Mean A Thing” by The Road Heavy.  This band was trimmed down to a trio when they opened for Jeff Martin at Meaford Hall on July 12th but their set was a powerful collection of original songs suited to the dual vocals of Pat James and Jules Cardoso:

#1 – “I’ve Got Everything I Need (Almost) by The Downchild Blues Band.  This classic blues band just keeps getting better, as this performance video of one of their classics shows.  After playing Meaford Hall on July 20th they went across the street to the Leeky Canoe and jammed there until they started putting the chairs up on the tables.  Now that’s a blues band!

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Summer Nightlife Picking Up

It began when Chris Scerri invited friends from out of town to see Holly Cole at Meaford Hall.  After enjoying the concert they went out for some drinks afterward, only to find that Sykes Street was deserted and there was no place in downtown Meaford that was open.  To Chris that made no sense.

"The Great Canadian Songbook" at Meaford Hall

“The Great Canadian Songbook” rocked Meaford Hall this spring, including locals Chris Scerri and Drew McIvor (photo by Marissa Dolotallas)

A few months ago, a show played at Meaford Hall that was called “The Great Canadian Songbook”.  It had been put together by Johnny Max and Tom Barlow with musical director Tyler Yarema and brought to Meaford by Chris Scerri.  Featuring accomplished musicians, it was a rocking show that had the crowd dancing in the aisles.  When the show ended, much of the crowd and most of the performers streamed across the street to where The Leeky Canoe was still open, with James McLaughlin performing.  As the room filled a new energy took over and soon musicians from the Meaford Hall show were taking turns on stage.  It was a first taste of what a night in Meaford could be after a big concert.

Chris had made special arrangements with the Leeky’s owners, Sean and Michelle, to stay open that night and it paid off.  So he did it again when Jeff Martin came to play on a night that coincided with the Tuesday open mic.  Last week when Downchild played Meaford Hall on a Thursday and the second in the Meaford Concert Series happened on Friday in Market Square, The Leeky presented live music for three nights in a row, after both of those shows plus its usual live entertainment on Saturday.  On all three night the place was packed with music lovers who had whetted their appetites on the day’s earlier entertainment.  Meaford was beginning to see a bit of nightlife where silence had reigned before.

Chuck, Donny and Pat from Downchild join Pete Devlin and Tyler Yarema at The Leeky Canoe

Chuck, Donny and Pat from Downchild join Pete Devlin and Tyler Yarema at The Leeky Canoe (photo by Marissa Dolotallas)

Now The Leeky Canoe has booked live entertainment to follow every (sold out) Terrace Thursday at Meaford Hall and after each of the remaining concerts in the Meaford Summer Concert Series scheduled at the Market Square.  The expanded entertainment policy is paying off for The Leeky and for music fans in Meaford.  This summer the downtown is experiencing the new beginnings of a night life.

Every concert at Meaford Hall attracts hundreds of music fans, and many of them would happily carry on after the concert if there were places to welcome them.  There are several other venues in the downtown area that serve food and drinks to the public, from coffee shops to fine dining.  Each could improve their business by extending their hours and adding live music.  If Meaford became known as a music centre at the bottom of Georgian Bay, with a nightlife that mixed good entertainment with a variety of hospitality options, all retailers would benefit from the influx of both locals and tourists.

Carrie at Captains Corner sees the advantage and she is presenting live music twice a week on the patio, on Wednesdays with an open mic, and on Saturdays with booked entertainment.  She has been careful to schedule these presentations early in the evening so that they compliment rather than compete with other venues offering live music in Meaford.

Tonight, Thursday July 28th, The Leeky Canoe is continuing its expanded music policy with a show by Jaret Coop starting at 9:30, following Luke Martin’s sold out performance at Terrace Thursdays.

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Downchild The Real Deal at Meaford Hall

Meaford Hall audiences are great.  It was packed to the rafters for The Downchild Blues Band and when they came on to the darkened stage just after eight they spent several minutes in silence just getting their instruments together, making sure they were ready.  The audience began to applaud spontaneously before they played a note or even brought up the lights.  Those guys in the dark there must be Downchild, so they must be good.  And they were, responding with increasing strength through the evening to a warm Meaford welcome.

Downchild Blues Band

Downchild Blues Band

Everybody knows that blues players, like fine wine, improve with age and The Downchild Blues Band is a rare vintage.  Formed by Donny and Hock Walsh in Toronto back in 1968, they became the house band at Grossman’s Tavern for the first few years of their existence, and for many years they were to blues in Toronto what Ronnie Hawkins was to rock and roll: the basic training ground for several generations of great players.

Donny Walsh "Mr. Downchild"

Donny Walsh “Mr. Downchild”

They call Donny Walsh “Mr. Downchild”, not only because he has been the mainstay of the band since they began 47 years ago but because he has that Downchild sound, whether he’s playing guitar or harmonica.  He does it old school.  There is no board of pedals at his feet, not even a monitor wedge.  He stands and listens to his guitar amp that sits directly behind him, a single mic pointed at the dome of its speaker, he hears it like the audience does, unadulterated and pure.  He gets a tone that is distinctively his, particularly when he plays slide, as in the beautiful melodic phrase that “One In A Million” is built around.  He’s supported by a rhythm section that’s as tight as a Swiss clock, with Gary Kendall providing solid bass in perfect sync with drummer Mike Fitzpatrick.  And Michael Fonfara on keyboards plays rocking piano riffs and keening organ voicings simultaneously.

Vocalist Chuck Jackson and sax player Pat Carey

Vocalist Chuck Jackson and sax player Pat Carey

A standout in a band of top musicians is sax player Pat Carey.  A lot of the songs were driven by horn riffs that were doubled with two harmonicas and keyboards but when he stretched out on a solo he carried the audience away.  On one song after 24 bars of molten sax he hit a high note that was completely drowned out by whistles from the audience.  When the appreciative roar of the crowd finally died down he was already well into another amazing twelve bars.

Another highlight was a long harmonica solo by Donny Walsh, accompanied only by four-beats-to-the-bar clapping by the band members and the entire audience.  It went on forever, building a wall of sound you wouldn’t expect to hear from a single instrument.  It was a chance for lead singer Chuck Jackson to take a break backstage.  He went downstairs and stepped outside for a breath of warm Meaford air, and found himself locked out.  Several minutes later, while Mr. Downchild was still wailing, a guy came walking down the aisle and right up to the stage.  At first it looked like an excited fan but it was Chuck, having found a way back into the building and through the hall to the stage.  He joined the band to finish up the song.

The band ended the night with their big hits, “Shotgun Blues” and “I’ve Got Everything I Need (Almost), which brought them fame a few decades ago when The Blues Brothers covered them.  But nobody does it like the originals.

Chuck, Donny and Pat from Downchild join Pete and Tyler at The Leeky Canoe

Chuck, Donny and Pat from Downchild join Pete and Tyler at The Leeky Canoe

Both band and audience were overflowing with energy at the end of the night.  Most of them flowed across the street where Pete Devlin was featured, joined by Tyler Yarema.  Later, members of Downchild came across as well to offer the audience a special treat.

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