The Downs Family

The Downs Family is a San Diego-based Irish, Folk-Punk band who's influences include traditional Irish folk tunes, bluegrass, polka, the blues, Sham 69, the Pogues, Big Country, and more. They have produced 2 CDs, a 4-song cassette tape, and a 7” single. They have toured on several occasions in the northwest and southwest. The have been playing together in Southern California for nearly 25 years. They have played with such notable bands as John Doe, Yo La Tengo, No Doubt, and Rocket From The Crypt among many others.

 

 

History

 

The Downs Family is a product of a St. Patrick’s Day sing-a-long nearly twenty-five years ago at San Diego's famous Casbah nightclub.  At the time, they played loose renditions of Irish folk tunes and songs by The Pogues.  Since then their sound has evolved to include the influences of bluegrass, polka music, Sham 69, Big Country, and blues. The Downs Family eventually settled on a line up of two guitars, bass, drums, accordion, banjo and tin whistle.  They began getting gigs with this line up with such bands as Ed’s Redeeming Qualities, The Rebel Consortium featuring Mojo Nixon and Country Dick Montana, and Deadbolt.

 

The Downs Family's, first recording, a cassette on their own Drunken Sod label, now out of print, featured four original songs: Milo’s Jig, Falling Down Drunk, Arkansas XX, and Doped Up on You.  Side B was recorded live at The Casbah in 1992.  In 1993, they recorded their first single with Vinyl Communications, and played with John Doe and Rocket from the Crypt.

 

In 1994 they went on tour with Rocket from the Crypt to Mesa Arizona, Albuquerque, Austin, and Houston TX.  They recorded a full length CD/Cassette on Vinyl Communications featuring nine original songs and three irish traditionals called Beer is Like a Dog... It Knows When You’re Scared. In that year they appeared on the bill with Red Aunts, Cindy Lee Berryhill, Candy Cane, Little Jack Melody and his Young Turks, Yo La Tengo, Southern Culture on the Skids, Tanner, Buck O’ Nine, No Doubt, Inch, and Crash Worship.  That year suicide claimed the life of their accordion player and their banjo player left the band to live in another city.

 

In 1995 a new banjo player, Erik Brashers, joined the group. For six months he played and recorded with them before he moved to Arkansas with his wife and two children.  The recordings with Erik have never been released.  Prior to Erik’s departure, he passed the reins to another banjo player Ernest Cline. 

 

During the first two months of 1996 they completed their second full length CD, Top O’ the world.  This self-released CD features five original songs and eight traditional songs of both Irish and American origin. Top O’ the world was released on St. Patrick’s Day, 1996 at a CD release party at San Diego's Casbah nightclub.  The CD release party was the homecoming show of a west coast tour that included shows in shows in Eugene, Seattle, Tacoma, and Vancouver.

 

In the intervening years the band's activities have ebbed and flowed with day jobs and families taking a more prominent role. Various players have come and gone over the years as well. However, every year, St. Patrick's Day usually sees the band playing several shows.

 

In 2014, with new members and renewed interest in “getting the band back together,” The Downs Family opened again for Rocket from the Crypt at a show celebrating the Casbah's 25th anniversary. With new songs, regular bookings, and plans for recording, the band has, once again, become a regular participant in the San Diego music scene.