Like a cat with nine lives, The Legendary Downchild Blues Band keeps on rolling and doing what they do best – playing the blues, with co-founder Donnie “Mr. Downchild” Walsh leading the charge, as he’s done for over 52 years.

When Downchild kicked off their 50th Anniversary Tour in Canada on June 22, 2019 at the Toronto Jazz Festival with a star studded lineup including Dan Aykroyd, Paul Shaffer, David Wilcox, Kenny Neal, the late Gene Taylor and Erja Lyytinen, the band had no idea the world would be hit by a pandemic and their tour would come to a grinding halt mid-tour for over a year and a half.


Then, Downchild’s keyboard player for over 25 years and former Lou Reed bandleader, Michael Fonafa, passed away in January 2021, which hit the band hard and left them wondering what the future held. With the long break from touring, drummer and 20-year Downchild veteran, Mike Fitzpatrick decided to retire from music to spend more time at home with his family.


“Chuck, Gary, Michael, Pat, Mike and I have been performing together as a band for over 20 years, which is longer than most bands stay together.” says Donnie Walsh. “It was tough to think about Downchild continuing without them, but we talked it over and we all still love to play live, so we knew we had to find some new guys.”

In June the band asked drummer Jim Casson , who was a member of Downchild from 1996 – 2001, if he’d be interested in filling the drum chair and he jumped at the chance to rejoin the band again.

“It’s been 20 years since my first stint in Downchild and I’m really looking forward to making great music with old friends again,” says Jim Casson

Downchild has a long tradition of incredible keyboard players from Michael Fonfara to Gene Taylor (The Fabulous Thunderbirds/The Blasters) to the much beloved Jane Vasey. Needless to say, they’re big shoes to fill but after playing a few songs with Toronto based, Tyler Yarema, they knew they’d found their man.

Tyler Yarema states, “I have been a fan of the Downchild Blues Band since I was a little boy growing up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. This music has been the soundtrack of my life and the main reason I play music today. It is with this that I accept, from the incredible Jane Vasey, the great Gene Taylor, and the Master Michael Fonfara, the torch that has now been passed to me. ”

“It’s great having Jimmy back in the band and adding a young guy on keys like Tyler, who’s an amazing player and singer and a perfect fit with the Downchild sound and both bring a cool new energy to the band,” says Donnie Walsh.

Downchild are fired up and ready to hit the road again to audiences across the country with their new lineup on The Longest 50th Anniversary Tour Ever.

Downchild is a Canadian blues institution with an international reputation. They have shared the stage with blues icons and contemporaries B.B. King, Buddy Guy and John Lee Hooker to name a few and have performed around the world, leaving fans thoroughly entertained wherever the go.

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