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Celebrating Jackie Washington…

There will also be a musical celebration of the Hamilton-born Jackie Washington who earned a Juno nomination and was inducted into Hamilton’s Gallery of Distinction in 1995 and the Canadian Jazz and Blues Hall of Fame in 2002. Join us on Thursday, November 14, 12pm-2pm at the Hamilton Public Library, Hamilton Rm

Jackie Washington was born 100 years ago and we’re celebrating his life and music with a special afternoon concert including Sneezy Waters, Chris Whiteley, John Sheard, Victor Bateman and host Ken Whiteley. This concert will celebrate the release of “The World Of Jackie Washington”, a new cd of 22 unreleased performances with contributions from Colin Linden, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, Mose Scarlett, Graham Townsend, Reg Schwager and producer Ken Whiteley, and the package also includes the documentary DVD, I Want To Be Happy.

Jackie Washington was born on November 12, 1919 in Hamilton, ON., the second oldest of 13 children. He began performing at age 5 and over his almost 90 years gave untold happiness to thousands of people across Canada.  Right after the Second World War he became Canada’s first black disc jockey.  He had a repertoire of over 1,256 songs as well as a remarkable memory for people, places, birthdays and trains among many other things.  His song “Alone In The Dark” from the Juno nominated recording he made with Mose Scarlett and Ken Whiteley, was selected by the Canada Council as one of the songs honoured to mark 100 years of recorded music in Canada. He was a living connection to early African Canadian music, the swing era and much more. He received many awards and honours including an Honorary Doctorate from McMaster U., but it was his positive attitude to life that really made him so loved.

The legendary Sneezy Waters is another national treasure.  From his early years performing with the likes of Bruce Cockburn, Susan Jains and many others to “His Excellent Band” with which he toured to every province and territory in the 1970’s.  He is perhaps most well known for his title role in Hank Williams – The Show He Never Gave, which toured across Canada, the United States and Europe.  He won the Best Actor award at the 3e Festival du Film Musical in Grenoble, France for his role in the film version of the Hank show.  An expression of his long friendship with Jackie Washington including getting Jackie to appear in the film and sing “Mind Your Own Business”.

Chris Whiteley has carved a unique path playing trumpet and swing music in the folk world, making a mark as a songwriter in the blues world and is most often seen performing these days with his wife, the wonderful singer Diana Braithwaite.  Chris has won multiple Maple Blues Awards as a horn player, songwriter and winner of the Blues With A Feeling Lifetime Achievement honour.  He played with Jackie Washington many times, including on most of his recordings and embodies that positive attitude to life.

John Sheard was one of Jackie Washington’s favourite piano players with his imaginative sensitivity, his profound knowledge of older jazz styles, his technical expertise and his good humour.  For most of Stuart MacLean’s long run with the Vinyl Cafe, John was the musical director and band leader and in that role performed hundreds of radio shows and live concerts in every part of Canada.  He is also an accomplished record producer and session musician.  Look for the twinkle in his eye as he tinkles the ivories.

Victor Bateman is a highly accomplished string bass player.  He has led his own contemporary jazz ensembles, large improvised music groups and along with the late Justin Haynes and David Baxter, Another Country, a wacky group that pushed the envelope of country music. He has recorded with many people including the Whiteley Brothers and he currently tours with Murray MacLachlan.  He plays bass on most of the cuts on “The World Of Jackie Washington”.

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone

Here’s hoping that in this crazy world of ours we can all find some gratitude. I was at the Dufferin Grove Organic Farmer’s Market yesterday, the bounty of the harvest was in and already most of the farmers had had frost. Lots to be thankful for.

I’m busy working on a new recording project that should be out on Borealis in the new year. In the meantime, here’s a track on thanksgiving from my 2012 Light of Christmas cd.

So much to be thankful for, so today I’m going to be thankful for my daily bread.
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Fall 2019 – Climate, conferences & Jackie Washington

Hello folks and welcome to my brand new website. It’s the best place to discover about the music I make. I hope you enjoy perusing it and seeing what I’m about.  Many thanks to web guru Trevor Mills for the creation and development, and to Selena Mills for the creative design.

This weekend Sept. 27-29 I’m sharing music and stories at the annual Folk Music Ontario conference. I’m sitting on the Solidarity Forever! workshop panel, Saturday at 3:30pm in room Ontario B. My only showcase is in the wee hours of Saturday from 12:40am to 12:55 in the MusicOntario suite 225-227.  Then Sunday morning at the Awards Brunch we’ll be celebrating the late Jackie Washington.  

Later in the fall there a couple of special concerts honouring Jackie Washington’s 100th birthday and the release of a new recording, The World of Jackie Washington. On the afternoon of Nov. 14 I’ll be at the Hamilton Public Library and 2 p.m., Nov. 17th at Hugh’s Room Live in Toronto with Sneezy Waters, Chris Whiteley and John Sheard.  More on the new recording later. I hope to see you soon.

Finally here’s a new song that’s one small contribution to the societal shift we need for our planet. It’s called “Greed Is A Flawed Organizing Principle” and it’s a sing-a-long!

Greed Is A Flawed Organizing Principle

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Tribute to Mose Scarlett…

Mose Scarlett, who died just over a month ago, after a few months of illness and many years giving pleasure through his music, his singing, his generous nature and his stories, will be memorialized in song and story at the Tranzac Club (292 Brunswick Avenue, south of Bloor, Toronto) on Wednesday, August 7 starting at 7:30pm. Doors open at 7pm. A partial list of people confirmed to participate at this point include (in no particular order) Dave Barrett, Victor Bateman, Jackson Delta, Bill Garrett & Sue Lothrop, Eve Goldberg, Hotcha!, Big Rude Jake, Magoo, Doc McLean, Tony Quarrington & Zoey Adams, Mr Rick, Margaret Stowe, Anne Tenner, Brent Titcomb, David Wall & Rebecca Campbell and yours truly, Ken Whiteley. Tony Quarrington will deliver a brief eulogy. Victor Bateman will be playing string bass, as he did on a number of the Scarlett, Washington & Whiteley tracks. It’s open to all who wish to and are able to attend. There is a suggested donation of $20 to cover the hall and ongoing expenses. We hope to see some of you there.

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Paradise Island, Live from the Rock Folk Festival & Freedom Fest Perth…

Ken Whiteley with Sacred Steel phenomenon, Nikki D. and The Sisters of Thunder

Upcoming Summer Engagements:

July 10-12 Experience the joy and release of singing gospel music with me at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat on Paradise Island, Bahamas. For more info, visit

August 9-11 Bassist Gord Mowatt and I fly up to Thunder Bay, Ontario to share stories and songs at the Live From The Rock Folk Festival. For more info, visit

August 17 Ken Whiteley & Friends – sacred steel guitarist Nikki D and the Sisters of Thunder, bassist Gord Mowatt and drummer Bucky Berger in concert at Freedom Fest, Stewart Park, Perth, Ontario. You will not want to miss this exciting time of music, fellowship, and family fun! For more info, visit

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Music & Yoga…

July 4-7 Come join me over the Independence Day weekend in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of New York. We’ll be enjoying the practices of yoga and sacred music. The daily schedule will include workshops by Swami Paramananda and Satsang concerts with yours truly. For more info, visit
July 10-12 Experience the joy and release of singing gospel music with me at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat on Paradise Island, Bahamas. For more info, visit
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Maud & me…

Sunday, June 30  Come celebrate the Canada Day weekend at the opening of the “Maud Lewis” art exhibition at the McMichael Art Gallery in Kleinburg, ON. One of Canada’s most beloved folk artists, Maud Lewis (1903 – 1970) was famous in her lifetime for her brightly coloured and endearing paintings of rural Nova Scotia. There will be a curatorial talk by McMichael Chief Curator Sarah Milroy followed by an exhibition viewing and concert by Ken Whiteley, fiddler Anne Lindsay & Gord Mowat on the big string bass. Art Gallery opens at 11am. Formal opening of the Maud Lewis exhibit at 2pm.  Concert at 3pm. 

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Mose Scarlett RIP…

It’s with great sadness that I mark the passing of my old friend, Moseley Stephen Scarlett, who died on May 30.  When I say old friend, we became friends in the 1960’s.  In 1969 we made our Mariposa Folk Festival debut at the same “New Songwriters” concert.  We played together often through the 70’s & 80’s, but the 20 years working together with our friend Jackie Washington really took our friendship to another level.  As well as his amazing, baritone voice and crisp, fingerpicking guitar he will be missed for his generous spirit, great sense of humour and loquaciousness.

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Here Comes The Sun…

This year we welcome Ken Whiteley, Kim Doolittle, Come From Away cast member Cailin Stadnyk, Northern Hearts, A Capella Quinte, the Choir and Junior Bell Ringers of Port Hope United, and the 2nd Annual Children’s Pop-Up Choir. Concert starts at 7pm.