Get ready for some BIG TIME BLUES
6 players from two of Canada’s most famous Blues bands
DOWNCHILD & FATHEAD
Chuck Jackson (vocals & harp), Teddy Leonard (guitar), Shakey Dagenais (keyboards), Pat Carey (sax), Gary Kendall (bass) and Mike Fitzpatrick (drums)
Chuck Jackson is Downchild’s singer; the sort of openhearted, friendly guy who builds an instant rapport with audiences. He came to Downchild thirteen years ago after a long career with a number of Canadian bands. A first-rate singer, who rates Big Joe Turner and B.B. King as major influences, Jackson’s also turned into an excellent songwriter, and there are plenty of his songs on the group’s most recent albums. He’s also a fine harmonica player, and a special highlight of the band’s performances is a harp duet with Mr. Downchild. Chuck was named the Maple Blues Award winner for 1999 Male Vocalist of the Year. He was also honoured this year with the Toronto Blues Society’s prestigious Blues With a Feeling Award for his achievements during a distinguished career.
Gary Kendall is one of the best known bassists on Canada`s blues scene adding a rock solid bottom end to the band`s distinctive sound. In his first period with the band (1979-83) he worked on four albums, We Deliver, Road Fever, Blood Run Hot and the live But, I`m On The Guest List. Since returning in 1995 he`s played on Lucky Thirteen and Come On In. Gary Kendall has also toured and recorded with blues greats Morgan Davis, Snooky Pryor, Chris Murphy, Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson, Big Jay McNeely, to name only a few and he`s the Musical Director of the Maple Blues Awards. He was honoured with the “Blues With A Feeling” Award in 1993 and has won the Maple Blues Award as Bassist of The Year in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2005. Originally from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Gary has also been honoured by his hometown, receiving the Thunder Blues Award from the City Of Thunder Bay and the Keeping The Blues Alive Award from The Thunder Bay Blues Society in 2002. When not touring and recording with Downchild he performs with The Gary Kendall Band and released his first solo recording “Dusty & Pearl” on his own 47 Records label in late 2004.
The newest member of Downchild is drummer Mike Fitzpatrick, but he’s certainly no newcomer to the blues scene. And while he’s been influenced by big band drummers like Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich, he’s found his niche with a flock of bluesmen – he’s played with Big Joe Turner, Sonny Rhodes, Hubert Sumlin and Bob Margolin, but he’s just as proud of the contributions he’s made with Canadian artists like the late Richard “Hock” Walsh, Jack DeKeyzer, and Morgan Davis. He’s recorded with Snooky Pryor, B.B. Odom and the Gold Tops, the Livin’ Blues Band and Ray Materick, among many others. His role with Downchild is special – in his own words: “One of the first blues bands I ever heard was Downchild, and they were an influence on my style as well. I’m still a fan today, so for me this is a great gig.” Michael won the Maple Blues Award as Drummer of The Year in 2005.
Long known as one of the busiest, most versatile keyboard players in North America, Michael Fonfara has added immeasurably to hundreds of recording sessions in a career that began in the 60s when he was a member of Mike Bloomfield’s, Electric Flag and the supergroup, Rhinoceros. Since then he has played with artist’s as varied as Lou Reed and Solomon Burke. A member of The Downchild Blues Band since 1992, Fonfara has won The Maple Blues Award for Keyboard Player of The Year four times and has be nominated in that category nine times.
Sax player Pat Carey is the most schooled of Downchild’s players, with a degree in music from the University of Manitoba. He played with The Winnipeg Symphony, Jimmy King & the Golden Boy Brass, Rocki Rolletti, and his own Jazz groups before moving to Toronto in 1984, where he played with such artists as the late Richard “Hock” Walsh and the late Tony Flaim and the Dukes before joining Downchild in 1985. His horn arrangements are an integral part of many Canadian recordings by such artists as Jack DeKeyzer, Chuck Jackson and the All-Stars, Big Daddy G and Sunny Fournier. As well as his many recordings with Downchild, Pat has also recorded with Rita Chiarelli, Fathead, Danny Brooks, Curley Bridges, Kenny Blues Boss Wayne, & Sam Myers. Pat has been recognized as Horn Player of the Year at the Maple Blues Awards in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 & 2004. In 2002, Pat recorded the CD Starlight with his own band Pat Carey’s Jazz Navigators. In this same year Pat became the President of The Iridescent Music Company Inc., a company comprised of a diverse group of Canadian musicians and Business people.
Teddy Leonard has won The Maple Blues Award for Guitarist of The Year once and been nominated in that category three times. He is a longtime member of the Juno and Maple Blues Award winning band Fathead . A guitarist who is known for his own original blues sound, Teddy has recorded and toured with Fathead, Little Mack Simmons, Big Daddy G, The Johnny Max Band, Paul Reddick, Porkbelly Futures, The Gary Kendall Band and Rita Chiarelli along with maintaining a busy career as a freelancer. In 2010 the city of London, Ontario presented Teddy Leonard with “The Jimmy Lewis Award”, a life time achievement award recognizing his long career as a blues musician.