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Donnie Walsh “Mr. Downchild” And The Leatherbacks


Performing Friday February 14th, Blues Festival Meet and Greet 

DONNIE WALSH has been called the ‘father of Canadian blues’ and with good reason. He is a blues pioneer on the Canadian scene. It was Walsh who paid the highest dues so that later Canadian blues acts, such as the Jeff Healey Band, the Colin James Band, the Powder Blues, Sue Foley, The Sidemen and The Highliners could also enjoy their success. The Canadian blues scene, which has blossomed nicely in the last few years, was relatively barren in the late 1960s when The Downchild Blues Band first started out.'”

The Downchild Blues Band was formed in Toronto in 1969 and continues to perform today. It was co-founded by two brothers, Donnie (“Mr. Downchild”) Walsh and Richard (“Hock”) Walsh. The band’s international fame is partially due to three of its songs, the originals “I’ve Got Everything I Need (Almost)” and “Shot Gun Blues”, and its adaptation of “Flip, Flop and Fly”, all from its 1973 album, Straight Up, being featured on the first Blues Brothers album, Briefcase Full of Blues (1978).[4] “Flip, Flop and Fly” has been Downchild’s only hit single, and became the signature song of Hock Walsh. The band’s musical style is described as being “a spirited, if fundamental, brand of jump-band and Chicago-style blues”.[5]

Donnie Walsh named his band from a song by blues singer, songwriter and harmonica player Sonny Boy Williamson; his other early heroes included Elmore James and Muddy Waters. More than 30 years later, Walsh remains one of the most enthusiastic musicians to be found anywhere — on the rare occasions when he’s not fronting a Downchild gig or fishing up north, he can be found sitting in with friends — and he has ’em in dozens of towns and cities throughout Canada and the United States.

Known as “Mr. Downchild” since he started the band, Walsh’s fans still argue as to whether he’s a better guitarist than he is a harp player — most figure it’s a tie — but musicians everywhere give him an A+ mark on both instruments, with special praise for his slide guitar work. Younger players in the tradition cite him as one of their strongest influences. He is also the band’s main songwriter; unlike most bands in the idiom, almost all the material in Downchild’s shows is written by Walsh or singer Chuck Jackson. Off–stage in the summertime — between jazz, blues, and folk festival gigs in Canada and the US — Walsh avoids the crowds by relaxing on his fishing boat.

The Leatherbacks were formed in 1997 by American guitarist – vocalist Nick D’Amico in the Costa Rican beach town of Tamarindo.

Since their inception they have steadily gained a reputation as one of the best rock n’ roll bands in the country.

Fueled by their intense passion for playing (and maybe a couple shots of tequila), they’ve

become well known for their exciting improvisational skills, seamlessly pulling off crowd pleasing spontaneous jams within the framework of their classic rock, funk, blues and reggae set list.

“We’ve had some great lineups in the past” says Nick, “but this one’s the best”.

Nick is joined by Canadian guitarist-vocalist Brian Burback, who brought his amazing chops to the Leatherbacks in 2005.The bands rhythm section consists of Venezuelan percussionist Roy Fonseca , Costa Ricans Pedro Golobios on bass and Jose Canales on drums, each capable of smoking solos, as well as butt-shakin’ grooves.

Whether covering the classics or performing original material from their latest CD, playing some of the largest venues in the country, private events or rocking the beach towns up and down the coast, The Leatherbacks will pack the house….. then blow the roof off.