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Downchild - I Need A Hat



It's no coincidence that Downchild hails from Toronto in southern Canada, 'cause this is sho'nuff southern blues. This disc commemorates their 40th year in the blues business and it shows in the grooves. Their sound is as smooth as deer-guts-on-a-doorknob. Chuck Jackson's well aged blues voice has just enough rasp to give it that juke joint edge. Donnie Walsh's guitar as well lends authenticity to these eleven band originals. The band is there with the requisite backing, abetted by a few guest stars for the occasion. The two man horn section helmed by long time member Pat Carey beefs up every tune they're featured on. Michael Fonfara of the 60's band Rhinoceros, whose song "Apricot Brandy" was an FM staple of it's time, adds piano and organ, occasionally stepping out for a solo.

"Somebody Lied" speaks to the the travails of life in a slow blues complimented by a mellow trumpet solo by Wayne Jackson of the legendary Memphis horns. Colin James puts in his two cents with a guitar solo that cuts through the air. Similar sentiments are echoed by "These Thoughts Keep Marching" where Walsh interjects spoken word worries- 'where's my baby tonight?',' are the kids gonna be alright?', 'is this war ever gonna stop?', 'global warming' and other concerns.

In the tongue-in-cheek title track the singer laments 'If you're gonna be a famous blues singer you need a hat'. It won't do the trick, but these guys have surely earned their blues hats. "Down In the Delta" is a trip through the south's towns and juke joints that has you feeling like you're cruising along in your bluesmobile. Speaking of which, Dan Aykroyd lends his harp skills to "You Don't Love Me", a romping shuffle that Colin Linden also graces with a greasy slide guitar solo. Don Walsh does a nice turn on the slide driven "Rendevous". Fonfara's honky tonk piano ups the ante on this tune. His churchy organ solo on "Time To Say Goodbye" builds into the horn riff. Chuck Jackson uses the deeper register of his 'whiskey soaked' voice to good effect on this one.

Donnie Walsh's guitar and harmonica skills shine on "What Was I Thinking" an ode to second guessing....'There was no light at the end of the tunnel'. His only vocal offering "Some More Of That" offers more of the same about life passing him by.

The closing bouncy instrumental "El Stew" leaves the listener wanting more. Not one bum track or false move in this blues stew. This band makes coming up with eleven fresh tracks look easy. As long as we get help like this from our northern blues neighbors the blues will be alright!

Reviewer Greg "Bluesdog" Szalony is from the New Jersey Delta. He is proprietor of Bluesdog's Doghouse at

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