For the past several years, Halifax blues rock power-trio The Carson Downey Band, has been Atlantic Canada's best kept secret. However in the last few months, the band has seen its career take off in a big way. Formed in late 1995, Carson, along with brother Murray Downey on drums and bassist Marlowe Smith, have begun to make quite a name for themselves throughout the country. Not only have they received rave reviews for their debut album, aptly titled All the Way, but have also been filling up their trophy case as well. Earlier this year Carson won the "Fender Guitarist of the Year Award" at the East Coast Music Awards in Sydney, Nova Scotia, as well this summer winning the "Dutch Mason Award," for his exceptional contributions to the preservation of Maritime blues music. And if that's not enough, the band also won a pair of "African Nova Scotian Music Awards" and two nominations for next year's East Coast Music Awards, including "Blues Artist/Group of the Year" and "New Artist/Group."
While Carson did not come from a particular musical family, music has always played a big part in his daily life growing up in North Preston, a small town outside Halifax. "My mother was always singing in the church," says Carson. Here, when you were called upon to sing in the church, they would ask you if your family would mind and that includes everybody."
Carson has been playing guitar now for over 27 years and was initially attracted to the instrument quite by chance. After first taking an interest in the ukelele as a child, he switched to guitar after realizing the four-stringed instrument was too small for his hands. "One night my brother-in-law said, why don't you come and hear a band with me," recalls Carson. "It was a band here in the community called The Hand of Time. They had this real good guitar player, Martin Smith, who is my bass player's uncle. When I went to see him that night, I said to myself, oh my god that's the instrument I want to play. Right from there, when I seen the guitar and I see him play I was hooked," adds Carson.
For bass player Marlowe Smith, the popularity of their music came as a bit of a shock for him. "I was really surprised how much demand there is for the type of music that we are playing," Marlowe says. "The audience likes the way that we are playing the music. It's rockin' blues, it's not like no real laid back blues. Our music is really uptempoed."
While being successful in the Maritimes may have been great for the group, they knew that in order to reach a larger market they needed to head west. The band recently scored big with Toronto audiences, putting on several energetic shows for very receptive crowds in the city. "We had a great time there and every night we played was packed," said an exuberant Carson. The band also reached a national audience performing on "Open-Mike with Mike Bullard" and "Canada AM" and also got positive reviews from The Toronto Star and Ottawa Sun.
The band is also planning on going back into the studio soon to record their follow up album. So it would appear that if integrity, commitment and talent equate to lasting success in the music industry, The Carson Downey Band will be around for many years to come.
Article as it appeared in the Maple Blues Magazine
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