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Mr. Downchild is a singer, guitarist and harmonica player who has been a fixture on the U.S. blues scene for more than two and half decades. Born Stephen Brazier in South London in 1950, he learned to sing and dance from his mother, a singer and dancer, and his great aunt, an opera singer. When he was 5, he sang Frankie Lymon’s “Why do Fools Fall in Love?” at one contest and won £5. He now calls it his first paying gig.
His father was friends with various U.S. service men who were stationed around London. They brought and shared their records with Steve’s father which provided him with his introduction to rock and roll and ultimately, the blues. “You couldn’t get those records in England back then,” he said “But the Americans had them, and I loved Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis!”
When he was
11 years old, Steve began acting in various musicals and
In 1966 Steve was in a TV series called Espionage. The same day he was in studio filming an episode he realized the Ready, Steady, Go! was being filmed next door. The special guest was Long John Baldry. “There he was, a white guy playing the blues!” That’s when this young white boy from London decided he was going to be a blues player. His focus was now on music. He played in pubs around London and sat in with several artists including Ian Stewart, the Scottish keyboard player who was a founding member of the Rolling Stones.
Around 1970 Steve decided to take up the guitar. Inspired by the open tunings of the Delta style, he focused on playing slide guitar in the style of Muddy Waters, Elmore James and Robert Johnson. Throughout the 70s and early 80s he played as both front man and as a side man in various bands. The bass player in one of his bands had played with two Cleveland musicians. They invited him to Cleveland and he decided it was time to go to the U.S. to seek out the roots of the blues. Besides, he was particularly interested in one bluesman from Cleveland, Robert Lockwood Jr.
“I came to Cleveland Christmas of 1985.” Little did he know how his life was about to change. “I first met Robert Lockwood at the Saloon, a bar that used to be on Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights.” he recalls. He went to another Lockwood gig at a bar called The Rockwell when Marilyn Adams, a writer for Ohio Blues News, came over and arranged for him to sit in and play harmonica with Lockwood.
Mr. Downchild and Lockwood became friends. They would sit in on each other’s shows and meet after separate shows for breakfast. It was one of those breakfasts where Lockwood offered to record with Mr. Downchild. The resulting album, They Call Me Mr. Downchild, was released in 1994 and garnered terrific reviews. This catapulted Mr. Downchild across the U.S., criss-crossing as he played at clubs and festivals including Riverblues 94 in Philly, the W.C.Handy Festival in Kentucky, The King Biscuit Blues Festival and the Western Maryland Blues Festival.
His second CD, Live at the Western Maryland Blues Festival, was released in 1997. A review in Blues Revue magazine said “Foot stompin’ acoustic blues! Mr. Downchild storms through tunes by Bukka White, Robert Johnson, Sonny Boy Williamson and Son House. This is a fine recording of his performance.
Around this same time he formed his band, The Houserockers and in 1998 released the album Steppin’ on Time. The Jazz and Blues Report wrote “Mr. Downchild is a legitimate contender for nationwide notice. On track after track his vocals are nonchalantly confident. He has a firm grip on the elusive art of blues songwriting. This is one of the best releases this year!”
In 1999, Mr. Downchild went solo and in 2000 released Behind the Sun. In the liner notes he wrote “I am grateful that providence guided me to making my decision to go solo. I am happy. It is like coming home after being gone a long time.” Living Blues magazine wrote “British-born Mr. Downchild performs as a one-man band… skillfully playing harp, guitar and singing in a wide range of blues styles. (He) sports fine electric slide guitar. Worth seeking out.”
As his reputation grew he travelled to more than half of the U.S. states and opened for the likes of Eric Burdon and B.B. King, among others. Things were going well but for personal reasons Mr. Downchild left the music scene and went into hibernation for 6 years.
The music never left. In fact it began to bubble to the surface and when he ran into friend and longtime Cleveland music scene fixture, Charlie Mosbrook who was hosting open mic nights, it was just a matter of time before it popped. Charlie asked him to stop by and Steve agreed. “I went... and played 3 songs and the audience went insane,” He said. “I realized I had something to give. It wasn’t all about me. There are people who love what I do.”
In 2012 Mr. Downchild got his bearings back in the music scene. He wasn’t playing just blues but experimenting in the world of sound. In 2013 he released a solo CD, Live and Kickin’, and DVD, Live at the Winchester, both recorded at The Winchester showcasing a mix of blues originals and covers.
Also in 2012 during a festival that he was attending, a good friend introduced him to a girl who needed a guitar player for an open mic at the festival. By 2014 Blues Meets Girl was formed and in 2016 Mr. Downchild had been revived.
So now, Mr. Downchild is back on the scene and Blues Meets Girl is hot on his trail. Blues Meets Girl Page