Friday, June 22, 2018
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Band that inspired the Blues Brothers performs Sunday in Belleair

BELLEAIR – It's billed as the biggest concert this little town has ever seen.

Sunday, the Belleair Parks and Recreation Department presents Downchild, an award-winning band from Toronto that was the muse for the Blues Brothers act of actors Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi.

Sara Borger, special events coordinator for the recreation department, said she has been receiving a lot of positive feedback from those familiar with the group.

"The Canadian residents are so excited we have Downchild coming," she said. "They are surprised at the price ($5 in advance, $10 at the door) and say they are used to paying much more for their concerts."

The upbeat blues band was formed in 1969 by Donnie Walsh and his late brother, Hock Walsh. Over the last four decades, Downchild has been a fixture in the Canadian blues scene, receiving many prestigious awards including a Juno (Canada's equivalent of a Grammy) for Best Roots and Traditional Album and numerous Maple Blues Awards.

The Canadian-born Aykroyd first became a fan of Downchild in the early 1970s, when he and his cast mates from Toronto's Second City comedy troupe — which provided numerous cast members for Saturday Night Live — attended their shows.

Aykroyd has credited the band as the inspiration for the Blues Brothers, whose first album, Briefcase Full of Blues (1978), contained two original Downchild numbers and as well as a version of their hit single, Flip, Flop and Fly. The actor occasionally performs with Downchild on stage.

Concertgoers in Belleair can enjoy dinner at the show, too, with food available from E&E Stakeout Grill, En Garde Catering, Mr. Bill's Fine Foods and Sweet Caroline's Bakery. Beer and wine will also be sold.

Don't forget the blankets and lawn chairs. Sunglasses, black suits and hats are optional.

The outdoor event is part of the Sundays in Belleair concert series at the Dimmitt Community Center. Gates open at 4:30 p.m. for the show, which lasts from 5 to 8:30. Roy Powers and the Last Exit Blues Band will open.

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