In a culturally insecure country where just having your toe touch Canadian soil for even a split second automatically confers living-legend status on you by default, Mr. Donnie Walsh has been a true Canadian blues legend for decades.
Which is why it was such a galling insult and absolute travesty that the Dan Aykroyd-Jim Belushi Blues Until You Snooze Revue was tagged to open both the afternoon and evening sets of Toronto’s Rolling SARS benefit concert, instead of Walsh’s legendary Downchild Blues Band. But that’s par for the course, of course. Because when you’re a former funny man who once made it big in America 30 excruciatingly long years ago and you have the added bonus of being pals with the wannabe brother of your famous, dead, drug-addict partner, Canada will hail you as a returning native son and full-fledged conquering hero.
Which literally is a small price to pay when you’re shelling out a whopping $8 million to bribe a washed-up band of British aristocratic ex-reprobates to pretend that they actually like your city.
Donnie Walsh, on the other hand, still believes in getting your respect the same old-fashioned way as he’s been doing for the last 35 years: by earning it, one note at a time. And as the title of his latest album ably attests, Body Of Work is guitarist/harpslinger Walsh’s second remastered retrospective collection of Downchild originals, an overtime workout carefully culled from three decades of soulfully solid, hard-rockin’ albums.
Well, they’re not all originals: The band’s brassy rave up on “Caldonia” is pure ode d’Jordan, while their rewired reworking of Elmore James’ “Madison Blues” has more slide work than a school playground during recess.
So if you want to cultivate a serious hankering for some of the good stuff, drawn straight and pure from the source, then step right up because Downchild’s your thirst-slakin’, hip-shakin’ moneymaker.
Drink up — this round’s on Donnie.
E-mail Jeffrey Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.