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Thread: Blues, Stomps, & Rags #18

  1. #1
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Mar 2017
    Ottawa, Canada

    Default Blues, Stomps, & Rags #18

    Ken Whiteley (b. 1951) is a musician, songwriter, and producer, playing in a variety of styles on guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, ukulele, jugs, piano, accordion, harmonica, kazoo, and percussion instruments. Whiteley is a fine blues-mandolin player though most videos feature him on guitar, and blues mandolin appears only here and there in his recordings.

    Whiteley was born to Canadian parents in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, and moved to Toronto at the age of five. He began playing guitar at twelve. Influenced by folk, blues, and jug-band music, he and his older brother, Chris Whiteley, with Tom Evans, formed The Original Sloth Band in 1965. They performed until the late 70's, cutting three records. Ken is also a children's entertainer, formerly accompanying Raffi and performing in The Junior Jug Band with his brother Chris and Chris's children, Jenny and Daniel, now both professional musicians. Ken made a number of his own recordings, as well as playing and recording with Mose Scarlett and Jackie Washington, the legendary (now deceased) Hamilton, Ontario singer, all-round entertainer, and sometime blues man. The Canadian Encyclopedia says Whiteley has "performed with Pete Seeger, Blind John Davis, Lonnie Johnson, Guy Davis, Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir, and with his son, Ben Whiteley" (Ben is also a professional musician). That's just scratching the surface. Whiteley has received numerous music awards, and is now performing gospel music with The Beulah Band. Undoubtedly, he has numerous other projects going.

    I recently heard a radio interviewer ask Whiteley how he felt about rises and falls in his popularity, e.g., going from being popular at festivals to not being hired for a period. Ken said that it never concerned him, as he'd decided as a teenager that he wanted to be an old bluesman, and as long as he kept getting older and playing the blues, nothing would prevent that. Clearly, he's achieved his ambition.

    Who needs a blues band when you've got a mandolin and washtub bass? Here's Whiteley kicking out the jams on mandolin. If the links don't work, search YouTube for "'Minglewood Blues' Ken Whitely (feat. Julia Narveson)".

    Here's a long jam with Ken coming in and out on mandolin. If the links don't work, search YouTube for "Jay Sewall plays I'm a Bluesman at La Chapelle 2011". There's a mandolin solo at 3:24, and a good jam at 5:25. (Sewall, the harmonica* player, based in Montreal, is a veteran of the Chicago blues scene.)

    * I know, to us cool blues folks, it's a harp, man.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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  3. #2
    wannabe mandolin wizzard bluesmandolinman's Avatar
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    Mar 2003
    Berlin, Germany

    Default Re: Blues, Stomps, & Rags #18

    another great post thanks, the first video of Ken Whiteley is awesome , wow
    Carl Martin - Everyday I have the Blues

    My gear : 1927 A0/Ajr , JM-11 , Fender 346 white XH

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