Ken Whiteley is one of Canada's most respected "roots" musicians. His musical journey has taken him from jug band, folk and swing to blues, gospel and children’s music. Ken’s live performances showcase his outstanding musicianship on guitars and mandolin, award winning original songs and powerful vocals. It's no surprise that he's been called “…a cross between Pete Seeger and Tony Bennett on 11!”
Recognized as a gifted guitarist and mandolinist, Ken’s musical peers affectionately refer to him as a “playing encyclopedia” for his vast repertoire, depth and range of playing styles, and his prodigious ability on over 20 instruments. He has performed with musical legends from Pete Seeger and Odetta to Lonnie Johnson, and has recorded with Tom Paxton, John Hammond Jr., Blind John Davis, The Campbell Brothers, Jackie Washington, Guy Davis, Stan Rogers, Penny Lang, Raffi, Fred Penner, and countless others. Also an award winning songwriter with over 300 compositions, Ken’s songs have been covered by numerous artists and his studio walls are adorned with a dozen gold and multiple platinum records.
The first Canadian to be invited to the prestigious Chicago Blues Festival, Ken’s more than 200 festival appearances across North America include folk, blues and children’s festivals in Philadelphia, Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg and St John's. He’s also well known to CBC radio listeners and for his many television appearances ranging from the legendary Canadian children's favourite, Mr. Dressup, to Saturday Night Live with Leon Redbone.
A well-sought after and decorated record producer, Ken has produced projects for Folk artists (Tom Paxton, Kim and Reggie Harris, David Parry, Grit Laskin, Penny Lang, Mose Scarlett, Steve Eulberg, Deborah Van Kleef, Eileen McGann, Linda Morrison, Evalyn Parry, Eve Goldberg, Kristin Sweetland, Lake of Stew), Blues artists (John Hammond Jr., Blind John Davis, Amos Garrett, Big Sugar, Fathead, Jay Sewall), Children's artists (Raffi, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, Nancy Cassidy, Fred Penner, Al Simmons, Kathy Reid-Naiman) plus numerous World (Lenka Lichtenberg, Jani Lauzon), Celtic (Friends of Fiddlers Green, Douglas John Cameron), Bluegrass/Country (Chris Whiteley & Caitlin Hanford, Don Osburn), Swing (Jackie Washington, Mose Scarlett), R&B (David Wall), Gospel (Toronto Mass Choir, Jane Sapp, The Richardsons) and spoken word artists.
Ken's accolades include...
2 Lifetime achievement distinctions:
Canadian Hall of Fame Award, Mariposa Folk Festival 2008
Estelle Klein Lifetime Achievement Award, Ontario Folk Festivals 2005
7 Canadian Juno Award nominations for his own recordings in
Blues, Roots & Traditional and Children’s categories
Solo Artist of the Year, Canadian Folk Music Award nomination 2008
Blues With A Feeling Award, Canadian Maple Blues nomination 2008
for “One World Dance” CD
15 Canadian Maple Blues Award nominations from 1997-2009
2 OCFF Songs from the Heart Awards:
Best Blues song 2007 for "Everybody has the Blues" from "One World Dance" CD
Best Children’s song 2005
Canadian Folk Music Award 2006
Best Children’s Recording 2006
Canadian Juno Award nomination 2007
Children’s Music Web Award 2006
Parent’s Choice Award 2006
for “Join the Band” CD
Canadian Genie Award, Best Original Song in a Motion Picture 2004 for “Tell Me”
Canadian Gemini Award nomination, Best Original Music for a Lifestyle/Practical Information or Reality Program or Series
2010 for "Love Letters"
Jazz Report Blues Album of the Year 1992 for “Bluesology” CD
Over 125 recording projects as a record producer,
which have earned Ken...
2 Canadian Juno Awards
2 American Grammy Award nominations
22 Canadian Juno Award nominations
4 American Gold Records for work with Raffi and Klutz Press
10 Canadian Gold and Platinum Records with Fred Penner, Raffi and Ken’s own Junior Jug Band
combined sales of over 8 million copies
Ken holds dual Canadian American citizenship.
Ken is a master guitarist & mandolinist and accomplished on 20 different instruments.
NEW CD! "The Light of Christmas"
Worldwide release date: Nov. 25, 2012
Produced by Ken Whiteley. Released on Pyramid Records. PD019.
The Light of Christmas is Ken's 28th album. It features a marvelous collection of new Whiteley Christmas originals that range from the exciting ska sounds of "The Baby Leapt In the Womb" to the heart-tugging "I Can't Imagine Christmas Without You". It is a vocal rich recording that in addition to Whiteley's soul stirring performances includes singers David Wall, The Levy Sisters (Amoy & Ciceal), Hayley Gene Penner and niece Jenny Whiteley. In fact the album is brimming with fellow Whiteleys including brother Chris, son Ben, nephews Dan and Jesse and a cover painting by his father, Ronald Whiteley.
The Light of Christmas (2012)
Another Day's Journey (2010)
One World Dance (2007)
Join The Band (2006)
Gospel Music Makes Me Feel Alright! (2004)
Songs From Sivananda Kutir (2002)
Musical Mystery Machines (1998)
Acoustic Eclectic (1995)
Thank You, Lord! A gospel celebration (1994)
All of the Seasons (1993)
Bright Side (1986)
Here I Am (1983)
The Whiteley Brothers (Chris & Ken):
Taking Our Time (2002)
Sixteen Shades of Blue (1996)
Mose Scarlett, Jackie Washington & Ken Whiteley:
Sitting On A Rainbow (2003)
We'll Meet Again (1999)
Three by Three: 3 CD box set (1995)
Where Old Friends Meet (1991)
Junior Jug Band with Chris Whiteley:
Songs To Sing (1988) with Dan Whiteley & Jenny Whiteley
Lots More Junior Jug Band (1985)
Junior Jug Band (1982)
Ken Whiteley & Paradise Revue:
Stand the Storm (1981)
Ken Whiteley with The Original Sloth Band & Honolulu Heartbreakers:
Up Above My Head (1979)
The Original Sloth Band:
"634-5789" / St. Louis Blues (1980)
Original Sloth Band 1978 (1978)
Hustlin' & Bustlin' (1975)
Whoopee After Midnight (1973)
Sing Out! Toronto's
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Toronto’s “Everything” Guy: Ken Whiteley Sing Out!, Vol 52, No 1, Matt Watroba “I didn’t go to ...Toronto’s “Everything” Guy: Ken Whiteley
Sing Out!, Vol 52, No 1, Matt Watroba
“I didn’t go to University, I went to folk festivals.” Ken Whiteley proudly admits from his home in Toronto, Ontario. “So through the ’60s I was soaking it all in like a sponge: whether it was hip, traditional British music like the Young Tradition, or the old Appalachian singers like Almeda Riddle and Frank Proffit, or the old blues singers and revivalists like Mike Seeger and later, David Bromberg – it was all exciting, it was all great, and I just wanted to learn it all.”
And learn it all he did. Known throughout the United States and Canada as a multi-instrumentalist roots performer, award winning producer, and performer of songs for kids, Ken Whiteley has been spreading the gospel of roots music for more than 40 years. Born in Pennsylvania to Canadian parents, Ken’s father taught architecture at Penn State and then at Kansas State University. In 1956, the family moved back to Toronto. Ken was five years old. A few years after that, his grandparents came to live in their house.
“Both my grandparent’s were involved in music,” Ken remembers. “My grandfather was from an era where you would always expect everybody to have a song or a story to tell at a family gathering. My father’s father had been a band leader in Northern Ontario in the 1920s. He had a group called the Whiteley Orchestra, and my Uncle Eric played drums in that. So on both sides there was music. My father had wide ranging musical tastes. One of his favorite things to do while he was watching sports on Saturday was to have the sound off and the Metropolitan Opera on. So it would be a football game or a baseball game and opera.”
Ken, along with his older brother and musical partner Chris, had lots of instruments around the house to pluck on and experiment with. This made them ripe for that brief time in the early sixties where folk music ruled the popular music world. Ken recalls, “In 1962 I was 11 and Chris was 14. Hootenanny was on TV and so our taste and ears were sort of drawn to that. In a period of about a year-and-a-half we went from the folk music that was on A.M. radio to discovering Pete Seeger and then Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. By 1964, we were making weekly treks to Sam the Record Man and buying all the blues re-issues by players like Son House and all those singers.” Along with the blues influence, Ken recalls being struck by both the music and the philosophy of Pete Seeger.
“There was a big difference between Pete Seeger and the A.M. folk music. Pete Seeger spoke to your conscience. He talked about real people. It was not about slick guys in matching outfits, it was about the real concerns of people and making a better world and talking about real feelings.”
Ken and Chris Whiteley continued to soak up the recorded music, but it was the opportunity to see some of their heroes in person that inspired them as future performers. In 1964, the Mariposa Folk Festival was forced to move from Orillia, Ontario, to the Toronto Maple Leaf Ball Club at the last minute. This made it possible for the Whiteley brothers to convince their parents to let them take a subway ride to an event that would change their lives. Ken remembers it like this: “The stuff coming up from the States was a big influence, but it played out in a particularly Canadian context. The 1964 Mariposa Folk Festival was, in many ways, a life-changing event. I saw Mississippi John Hurt meet the Reverend Gary Davis for the first time ... sitting in this ballpark and just trading songs. And then, that same afternoon, I saw Skip James do his very first performance for a white audience as he talked about being rescued from the hospital by Dick Waterman because people wanted to hear him play. I was just blown away. It was so great.”
The following winter the brothers began seriously collecting and playing this old music – especially American jug band music – and by the summer of ’65 The Whiteley brothers started Tubby Fats Original All-Star Downtown Syncopated Big Rock Jug Band and began performing. By the mid-’60s, Ken and the jug band entered the music business. They booked gigs, had people booking gigs for them, and joined the musician’s union. They also started volunteering for the Mariposa Folk Festival, often assuming the role of taking care of the same old blues musicians who originally captured their imagination.
It was at this time that the jug band morphed into The Original Sloth Band. They recorded three albums and became sought after live performers. The music combined the blues and jazz from the jug band tradition. Ken described them like this: “The way the New Lost City Ramblers took this broad range of country music, which went all the way from the old ballads and the old-timey music, to strains of bluegrass. They covered the whole range of country music. In a sense, we were doing that with a whole range of black music. By the early 1970s we were into Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong, as well as other classic men and women blues singers.”
The Sloth band performed and recorded steadily from 1972 until around 1980. Along the way they sat in and jammed with all kinds of legendary musicians covering a wide span of musical ground. Ken met and played with many of these folks at the festivals and at the coffeehouse he ran for about three years starting in 1974.
“The biggest single difference with me was developing a friendship with Blind John Davis – the great Chicago piano player who played blues and jazz – he was the house piano player for Bluebird Records in the 1930s and ’40s and knew everybody. We first met him in Mariposa around 1974. He began staying with me when he came to Toronto. I began playing with him in different places. In 1978 we recorded with him.” The influence of a man like Blind John Davis can be a hard thing to describe with words. At this point in the conversation, Ken launched into a musical demonstration that involved about a dozen different ways to approach the playing and phrasing of five, simple notes – but mostly it came down to this; “He wouldn’t accept any bullshit from us.” Ken recalled with reverent laughter. “He would make sure we were getting the right feeling – he heard us get that feeling, which was why he used to play with us – if we got nervous, or whatever, he’d say, ‘no, no, no ... give me the real thing ... give it to me like you mean it.’ Playing with John, you learn what’s really involved ... how to make that music speak to whomever it is you’re playing to. It’s an artistry, but it’s the artistry of conveying those real feelings.”
This is an artistry that Ken Whiteley continued to perfect over the next three decades. Live performing, however, is just one aspect of Ken Whiteley’s life in music. He is also an award winning and sought-after producer.
“I’ve always been interested in the whole recording process – making records and what records were. We made our first recording in 1973, and then through the 1970s we helped friends make their records. In 1975 there were two brothers near Hamilton, Ontario, Bob and Dan Lanois, who started a studio in their parent’s basement, so we started going out there to make records. That’s where we made the first Sloth Band record and the first Raffi record.”
Ken knew Raffi as a friend and fellow singer-songwriter in the area, so when the idea for a children’s recording surfaced, the partnership began.
“He had just started doing music for kids.” Ken remembered. “His wife was a Kindergarten teacher, and his mother-in-law ran a nursery school, so he had this idea to make a record for children and he approached me to help him make it. I came up with all these different ideas on how we should treat these songs. That first record, which sold somewhere over 2,000,000 copies was made in the Lanois basement for $10/hour studio time.”
Being the co-producer and arranger for that first Raffi record led to others asking Ken for the same services and to a decade of touring with one of the most popular children’s entertainers of all time.
“I was his bandleader and we were flying all over playing major concert halls. It was a really fun gig. When we started out it was very fresh and I had a lot of musical input. I was bringing all these elements of roots music to Raffi’s music – like playing a dozen instruments. I was doing gospel piano and old-time banjo, some ragtime guitar and bluegrass mandolin – that was all really fun.”
They worked together for eleven years. Ken went on to produce dozens of records for a wide variety of artists including Tom Paxton. All together, Ken’s productions have sold over 6,000,000 copies.
“In the last 30 years or so of producing records, I’ve learned more and more about what really is involved. It’s so different from performing because performing is about the immediacy of the moment – being there with the people you’re performing with. A bad note is gone the second after it’s played and the next note’s played. Recording is something that has to be listened to repeatedly and it uses different parts of my brain.”
Ken Whiteley took a shot at the mainstream music business with the recording Here I Am in 1983. After spending, what he called, “a ton of money” on this mostly electric R&B/blues/gospel/folk mix he figured out that his audience was really the acoustic folk/ roots community. Brightside came out in 1986, and centered Ken in his acoustic roots. He stopped working with Raffi in 1987 and began concentrating on writing and recording his own songs. It was a recording project for his own label, Pyramid Records, that led to his partnering with two staples in the Canadian folk scene, Mose Scarlett and Jackie Washington.
“It began as a recording project that we sort of worked on for about five years, and then came out in 1992. When it came out, it was immediately picked up by the CBC and started getting all kinds of people wanting us to play, and it started creating a momentum of it’s own. So we started performing together. We had been friends for years. It began more like a festival sing-a-round sort of thing – we wouldn’t have a planned set list – but the more we did it, the bigger the repertoire got with all three of us. It took on a life of its own.”
Anyone who has experienced the trio perform live will tell you of the charm, reverence for each other’s songs and stories, and the pure love of the music that exudes from the stage.
“We all loved this old music, but we all approached it from a slightly different place musically – but always a place of mutual respect and enjoyment. We all get a kick out of Jackie’s old stories or Mose’s rambling tales. We were enjoying it as much as the audience.”
Ken continues to do shows with the trio, play solo, back others, produce recordings and sing for children. It is also common now for his son Ben to join him on bass. He also continues to hone the craft of writing.
“The best songs happen as moments of inspiration – where the idea comes to you ... and, whomp!, it’s there. Then you apply the craft to bring the whole thing to fruition, but there is some kind of impetus – it’s almost like you’re just channeling it. But they don’t all come like that,” Ken laughs.
“I naturally draw from the folk traditions because that’s the music I am most familar with. Whether it’s gospel music or swing or blues, I’m drawing from a repertoire of hunders of these songs as a kind of template or musical vocabulary.”
After forty years of making music for folks, Ken Whiteley shows no sign of stopping. In fact, a lifetime of experience has lead to the wisdom and philosophy that drives him to share this music rooted so deeply in his soul.
“Playing for any audience is about communicating - whether it’s 40 people at a house concert or 5,000 people at a folk festival - you are still looking them in the eye and putting it out there for them. It’s in the tension and release of notes, and it’s in what you say and how you say it. I think the more you do it, the more you develop your own voice.”
But is this old music still relevant? Is it essential to the continuing education of both children and adults? As you might imagine, Ken had some final thoughts on this. “It’s so important to give people a sense of the history of this music. All contemporary music has come out of what’s come before. There is a tendency within our contemporary society that wants everything instant – that wants everything in sound bytes – that sees only what’s happening now as being relevant, and has a very short memory. To counter that we need to show people connections. It’s about real stuff that happens in real time. It’s about music as a vehicle to convey our real feelings and our real thoughts, to create our connection to each other. When you get a room full of people singing together, that has a powerful effect at a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level that is not shared by people who are only listening to pre-recorded tracks. Music can inspire change in the world. It can help us through our own challenges as people. Just the act of a song that can make you cry is powerful because it touches something that is so deep.”
All the Seasons, 1993, Alcazar #1010
Acoustic Eclectic, 1995. Pyramid #015
Musical Mystery Machines, 1998, Pyramid #010
Listening, 2000, Borealis #127 Gospel Music Makes Me Feel Alright, 2004, Borealis #159
Join the Band, 2006, Merriweather #06
One World Dance, 2007, Borealis #187
• with Mose Scarlett and Jackie Washington:
Where Old Friends Meet, 1991, Pyramid #06
We’ll Meet Again, 1999, Borealis #120
Sitting On A Rainbow, 2003, Borealis #153
• with Raffi:
Singable Songs for the Very Young, 1976, MCA #10037
Corner Grocery Store and Other Singable Songs, 1979, MCA #10041
Raffi’s Christmas Album, 1983, MCA #10043
• with Chris Whiteley:
Sixteen Shades of Blue, 1996, Borealis #002
Taking Our Time, 2001, Borealis #135
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Mister Versatility Ken Whiteley’s various musical achievemnets are already the stuff of legend. A...Mister Versatility
Ken Whiteley’s various musical achievemnets are already the stuff of legend. And now the Toronto-based, multi-instrumentalist has just releasd the rather good, One World Dance. Pat Langston waltzes into this interview.
Maybe if we start a petition, he’ll do it. Ken Whiteley – whose sprawling musical knowledge of folk, blues, gospel, you name it, once earned him the label of “a playing encyclopedia” – really needs to shoehorn his memories into a book. Sort of a “the story so far” because, despite his trademark bush of whitening hair and beard, Whiteley’s still only 56.
The idea of a Whiteley book isn’t mine. It was Chris White, artistic director of the Ottawa Folk Festival where Ken Whiteley has played several times, who threw out the idea recently. As White noted, “If you think about Canadian folk and roots music, he’s got an incredible perspective.”
White is bang on about this restless and accomplished performer (his latest, excellent solo release is One World Dance), songwriter (300-plus tunes), collaborator (the Whiteley Brothers, with bro Chris; one-third of the beloved Scarlett, Washington and Whiteley), recording artist (six Juno nominations; credits on albums by Leon Redbone, Willie P. Bennett and many others), award-winning producer (Raffi, Fred Penner), multi-instrumentalist (20 including mandolin and guitar), and all-round folk-roots guy (former artistic director of the Mariposa Folk Festival; co-founder of Borealis Records). Oh yeah, he’s also the dad of bassist Ben Whiteley, who plays on the new album, and uncle of singer-songwriter Jenny Whiteley.
Does the word engaged spring to mind?
Sounding far younger than his age, Whiteley, speaking by phone from his home in Toronto, brims with posterity-worthy memories, stories and humour. Pennsylvania-born of Canadian parents but raised in Toronto, he still recalls the minutiae of his own early musical encounters.
“When I was five, we stayed for a summer with our great-uncle Dave. He would sing Stephen Foster songs holding his cello like a guitar. Chris and I would sit up in the attic and play these records on this wind-up 78.”
His paternal grandfather, he adds, headed up Northern Ontario’s Whiteley Orchestra during the 1920s and ’30s. His maternal grandfather, meanwhile, “came from the tradition where everyone should always be ready to give a song or story, and he was always asking us to perform, even when we were little kids, at special gatherings.”
As an elementary school student, Whiteley says with a chuckle, he was the only boy in the class who would sing out loud. By the time he was 12, he was so into folk and blues that he stopped listening to AM radio. Then, in 1965, he heard Keith Richards’s slide guitar on a Rolling Stones tune and “I realized it was all a continuum and that the Stones were listening to the same things I was.”
A couple of years later, Ken, older brother Chris and Tom Evans formed The Original Sloth Band, still fondly remembered by many for its folk, blues, jazz and jug-band eclecticism. The group recorded three albums in the 1970s. During that same decade, Whiteley launched and ran Shire’s Coffee House in Toronto’s North York area.
“We bought all these chairs from a divey hotel on Jarvis Street and mounted lights in juice cans,” he remembers, earning $35 a week for his efforts. He hired, and sometimes sat in with, Brent Titcomb, Stan Rogers and other budding folk heavyweights.
Another multi-Whiteley project, the Junior Jug Band, played kids’ concerts during the 1980s. Ken’s own R&B outfit, the Paradise Revue, also carved out a niche.
Since then, well, you’ve already read the Reader’s Digest version of Whiteley’s current musical CV.
In fact, on One World Dance he pays tribute to his consuming passion. That’s When I Need a Song is about exactly that.
“Songs in so many ways enrich our lives, when you feel good, when you feel bad, when you are protesting, when you’re celebrating, when you’re whatever,” he says. Whiteley wrote the tune, one of several featuring Amos Garrett on guitar, with fellow Toronto musician Eve Goldberg. He and Goldberg also teamed up for the swing blues Lunch Counter Encounter. “I can get melodic, harmonic ideas perpetually but don’t always have something to write,” Whiteley says.
Co-writing is one way that music helps people connect. And connecting is, for Whiteley, of bedrock importance.
“All of us on this planet have a responsibility and the opportunity to connect,” he says. “I’ve made connections with people that I couldn’t speak the same language with and we’ve been able to play music together.
“At the most profound level, I feel in performing it’s possible to create a situation where I’m a conduit for energy that’s coming from beyond me and we create a big circle with the audience. Essentially, it’s a spiritual pursuit for me.”
All this talk of spirituality prompts the question of whether Whiteley is a religious man. Careful to underline that he’s “not hung up on the forms and names of religious belief,” he does say he’s a Christian, pointing to his gospel albums. “But Christianity in and of itself is a vehicle, as all religions are, for us to experience the divine in our lives and to experience it between each other.”
Quoting the New Testament, Whiteley adds, “Jesus said, ‘Love God and love your neighbour as yourself.’ And he didn’t say, ‘Accept me as your personal saviour,’ He said, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ And who’s your neighbour? He gave an example and it’s not the guy in your tribe. It’s whoever you encounter.”
Speaking of tribes, the Whiteley clan does make music together (“Ken and Chris are the kind of people you could organize a whole folk festival around,” says White). This past winter saw Ken and seven other family members converge on Ottawa for a show, a rousing event which apparently took close to a year to organize because of the performers’ conflicting schedules.
And with his own busy days and nights – he’s in the midst of promoting his new album, don’t forget – it looks as though it’ll take more than just a petition to get Whiteley working on that book. On the other hand, he says, “I have a good idea for a cookbook."
FAME Review of One World Dance CD
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Ken Whiteley - One World Dance Borealis Records - BCD187 A review written for the Folk & Acous...Ken Whiteley - One World Dance
Borealis Records - BCD187
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Tampa Blue (email@example.com)
The American South has given birth to some great literature, wonderful food and world-shaking music, including the blues. All parents are happy when they see their offspring out on their own, independently conquering the world and sending home messages of their well-being.
Ken Whiteley's One World Dance is one of those messages sent by the blues and it says, "I'm alive and well and living in Canada!"
For those unfamiliar with Whiteley (folks like me) you can tell he's got it right from the first bar of the first track, Everybody Has The Blues. Actually, I could tell from the opening chord. The music is sultry and the temperature is just where steam first begins to appear. Then he comes in with the vocals. The phrasing and attitude are reminiscent of BB King. Whiteley understands the importance of feel so well that he holds the reins through the entire piece, never letting it get out of hand, setting the mood and building the tension for more to come.
It starts coming with the second track, Get At. This is one of those boogies that will make a lame man walk! The dual guitar work between Whiteley and Amos Garrett is masterful.
Masterful is a perfect word to describe this collection of mostly original tunes. Masterful and amazing. It is amazing how masterfully Whiteley covers a wide range of the blues palate. He is able to be faithful to his own sensibilities while working in each of the sub-genres. Not only is the instrumentation masterful but the song writing is as well. Whiteley's weakest work still sets goals so high that most song writers can only hope to occasionally reach them.
The title track is definitely not your father's blues. And, to be honest, I did not care much for it on first hearing. But I have decided that I needed to open my ears and allow Whiteley to broaden my tastes a little. The music of this blues/world-beat fusion song is infectious and I have found myself listening to it repeatedly.
There are a couple of treatments of "traditional" tunes. This version of the Son House song, Death Letter Blues is right on the mark. I don't think that even Son himself could find any fault here. And the blues spiritual, Two Wings, is so powerful, so beautifully done that it will move the heart of the most hardened sinner!
So, the blues another of its children. Ken Whiteley's One World Dance can sit at the table with all the other far-flung offspring of the South. Nice to meet you!
* Everybody Has The Blues (Ken Whiteley)
* Get At (Ken Whiteley)
* Going To Be (Ken Whiteley)
* Lunch Counter Encounter (Ken Whiteley/Eve Goldberg)
* Death Letter Blues (Traditional adaptation, arrangement by Ken Whiteley)
* Still Can't Believe You're Gone (Ken Whiteley)
* Two Wings (Adaptation, arrangement by Ken Whiteley)
* One World Dance (Ken Whiteley)
* November (Ken Whiteley)
* That's When I Need A Song (Ken Whiteley/Eve Goldberg)
* Still Trying To Find My Way (Ken Whiteley)
* That's Alright (Adaptation, arrangement by Ken Whiteley)
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
Podworthy: That’s When I Need a Song
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KEN WHITELEY One World Dance Borealis/Koch Whether as solo artist, collaborator; sideman or pr...KEN WHITELEY
One World Dance
Whether as solo artist, collaborator; sideman or producer; Toronto’s Ken Whiteley has long been one of the most valuable players on the Canadian blues, gospel and folk music scenes. This time around, Whiteley is mostly in a stylistically-broad blues mode offering tracks that range from a powerful acoustic arrangement of Death letter Blues, Son House’s Delta blues standard to tightly arranged electric band tracks like Whiteley’s own Everybody has the Blues featuring one of Amos Garrett’s patented electric guitar solos. On the title track, Whiteley enlists Mark Mosca steel drums and Cuban percussionist Mario del Monte to deftly fuse strains of blues and world music. The most infectious number is That’s When I Need a Song, a kind of secular gospel tune. ****
Podworthy: That’s When I Need a Song
November 15, 2007 edition of The Montreal Gazette.
Assistant Editor: Ottawa Jewish Bulletin
Music Reviewer: Montreal Gazette
Music Reviewer: Sing Out Magazine
Host/Producer: Folk Roots/Folk Branches features, CKUT radio
Whiteley serves up lunch counter of styles
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Whiteley serves up lunch counter of styles Byline: Bill Robertson Special to The Star Phoenix Edit...Whiteley serves up lunch counter of styles
Byline: Bill Robertson Special to The Star Phoenix
Section: Arts & Life
Type: Column; Review
One World Dance
Guitarist extraordinary Ken Whiteley is back with another treasure trove of songs, sounds and styles.
On One World Dance he takes us through the gentle R & B sway of one statement of his faith, Everybody Has the Blues -- with lead guitar help from Amos Garrett -- the high-octane, rockin' boogie of Get At, and the sweet ballad of life's possibilities Going To Be.
Then he throws in some humorous ragtimey feel with Lunch Counter Encounter and its lively acoustic guitar solo, some Dobro guitar on the old country blues number Death Letter Blues, and some spirited gospel with Dobro accompaniment and some great bass vocals from Pat Patrick on Two Wings.
Yes, it's a lunch counter of musical styles and possibilities here, including some cha cha, complete with Latin percussion and steel drums on the title track. There is some slow blues feeling for a song about the end of a relationship and the coming on of Whiteley's least favourite month, November.
Whiteley's justly renowned for his fine guitar playing but his voice, which can sound a little strained, as on Trying To Find My Way, really glows through that ballad Going To Be and resonates a sad earnestness in Still Can't Believe You're Gone. This is a lovely album.
Must-Listen CDS reviewed
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Looking at some Must-Listen CDS reviewed; Jeff Mahoney The Hamilton Spectator (Hamilton, Ontario,...Looking at some Must-Listen CDS reviewed;
Jeff Mahoney The Hamilton Spectator
(Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)
One World Dance
Whiteley charges into this with guitars and dobros blazing and voice a-growl. The result is a passionate, robust set of blues, with jazz and Latin garnishes, even some gospel. The strengths of this appealing album are its guitars and the driving, cleverly sprung tempos and chordings. Whiteley's voice and lyrics really score on Everybody Has The Blues, Get At and November, but they slip out of blues idiom in the CD's rare weak moments.
Penguin Eggs CD Review
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One can tend to forget how talented Ken Whiteley is when he seems so overexposed these days. He's i...One can tend to forget how talented Ken Whiteley is when he seems so overexposed these days. He's into his gospel thing, his blues thing, used to be into the jug band thing and does kids' reocrds, produces and you-name-it.
All of which creates an impression of a rather eclectic individual who's all over the map. But with One World Dance, that's exactly his point. This 12-track record has pulled it all together, reminding you just how supremely talented Whiteley is.
His unconventional voice works perfectly with many musicial styles and this disc delivers big band and gutbucket blues, gospel, swing jazz and even a samba with steel drums.
Secret weapons across this entire disc is found in piano player Joe Sealey, who positively steams on the brillant "Going To Be", the disc's most powerful track.
Yet there are many: "Still Can't Beleive You're Gone" is a beautiful intimate paean to loss while "Death Letter Blues" conjures the devil and drowns him in the Delta.
In an odd turn, Whiteley takes over a Cuban supper club with this slick arrangement - punctuated by Sealey's piano, Mario del Monte's congas and mark Mosca's steel drums - that might make Boz Scaggs jealous.
"That's All Right" closes the disc on a blues/gospel note with tasteful ragtime guitar and three-part harmonies, leaving you wanting more. A very solid record from a man who wears the world on his sleeve.
Ken's musical repertoire includes folk, blues, gospel, children's, swing, jazz and over 300 original compositions.
Depending on the type and nature of gig Ken's set list can change considerably. A short festival set would be tightly structured but a solo concert would have lots of room to respond to the mood of the moment and could include any of the 1,000 songs Ken knows.
Currently Ken's repertoire includes songs from his newest recording, "Another Day's Journey", and favourites from his previous recordings, such as "One World Dance". His set list often includes the title tracks Another Day's Journey and One World Dance, plus Butterfly, Language of Love, No Answer, Step To Paradise, I Want To Be Happy, Mike & Mary, Motherless Children, Everybody Has The Blues, Lunch Counter Encounter, Death Letter Blues, Still Can't Believe You're Gone, Two Wings, That's When I Need A Song.
Please note that Ken tailors his set lists to fit each specific occasion.
Ken has specific programs for family concerts, gospel shows, blues gigs, et cetera that can be customized to fit your event requirements.