The world keeps circling the sun and I’m going to keep singing. As well as the nightly singalong / shout out for frontline workers (and others) on our street, I’ve been working on creating a new album. If you want a little peak into it, here’s a clip from a live stream performance I gave as part of the North American Folk Alliance virtual conference. It’s my performance of Shenandoah.
You can check out my “Ode To the Road” post from early fall for more on the singalong/shoutouts and also my video performance of “You Better Mind” from my most recent album, “Calm In The Eye of the Storm” (available on this site).
I have been doing an Easter time concert at the Sivananda Yoga Ashram Camp in Val Morin, Quebec almost every year since 2002 and Saturday, April 3 I will do one you can join HERE from anywhere over Zoom. There will be a short meditation at 7:30, a bit of chanting and then the concert will start. This will be the second Easter concert that will be virtual and it feels odd to think the earth has gone all the way around the sun and we’re still in the pandemic wilderness. While I’ll miss hearing your voices, hopefully next year we’ll be sharing the space together. In the meantime, sing away from wherever you are.
The Easter resurrection story is one of faith in the midst of incredible challenges, forgiveness, renewal, and ultimately joy and connection. I’ve got a new Easter song called “The Stone Was Rolled Away” I’ll premiere in the concert. My continuing spiritual practice sustains and deepens the resonance I have felt since childhood in this most holy of Christian holidays. I hope you can join us.
I was surprised and delighted to be awarded the Maple Blues Lifetime Achievement Blues With A Feeling Award this February. I thought I’d embrace this auspicious occasion as a time to post a new video of my original version of the African American spiritual song You Better Mind. The song appears on my newest Borealis release, Calm In The Eye Of The Storm. For the album I recorded it with sacred steel sensation Nikki D. Brown and the Sisters of Thunder. The video however is very much a product of this year of the pandemic. On it I sing and play all the parts including bass, lap steel, percussion, etc. Mako Funasaka masterfully crafted the video from my own shots of me busily recording all the parts.
On February 19 I will be part of the Virtual Winterfolk Blues and Roots festival. It’s a great line up and you can watch it by registering here. I do a set with Ben Whiteley accompanying me on mandolin, guitar and harmony vocals.
Then on Monday, Feb. 22 I’ll be doing a live stream concert for the virtual North American Folk Alliance conference at 8:30 EST. Of course you can register for the conference (with a sliding pay scale) and see a lot of great workshops and other concerts, but if you want to watch my show you can do it here.
Whether you believe that we’ll all have to “give an account in Judgement”, call it the law of karma or accept that our actions can have consequences, I hope we all remember to put a little love and kindness out there and spread some light.
As I write this Chanukah is just beginning and we enter into this season of celebrating the light in the darkness. There are some upcoming online events that I hope may bring you some light.
On Sunday, Dec. 20 I will be giving an online holiday concert for the Sivananda Yoga Centres in Toronto and Montreal. It will be a fundraiser for Sun Youth which works with individuals and families in need from the Greater Montreal area by providing a range of emergency services to ensure basic needs and to preserve people’s integrity, by contributing actively to crime prevention and by promoting the physical, social and intellectual development of people through education, sports and recreation.https://sunyouthorg.com/
The program will be 6:00 – 7:15 pm: Yoga Class, 7:45 pm: Meditation and my concert will start shortly after 8 pm. for about an hour. I’ll be singing songs from Light of Christmas cd as well as other holiday favourites.
Registration: Please donate online, any amount, directly to Sun Youth and send the confirmation e-mail you receive from them to email@example.com. We will send you the Zoom link prior to the event on December 20 upon confirmation of your donation. (Sun Youth will provide you with a tax receipt).
On Saturday, Dec. 19 I’ll be participating in the Sultans of String – Christmas Caravan – Livestream ZOOM concert with fantastic special guests! 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM ESTLimited tickets available: http://christmascaravan2020.eventbrite.ca
Celebrate a musical trip around the world with special guests Rebecca Campbell – vocals, Tamar Ilana – flamenco & bellydance, Donné Roberts – vocals & guitar, Kristine St-Pierre – vocals & guitar – en français, Eddie Paton – guitar and the fabulous Sultans, Chris, Kevin, Drew, and Chendy!
Finally Roncesvalles United Church is taking their Christmas Eve service online and I’ll be part of that too.
We’re still singing on our street, too. Meanwhile, keep singing in your soul.
Jackie was born November 12, 1919 in Hamilton, Ontario and in his long, musical career he touched a lot of people. The Home County Music and Arts Festival is hosting a celebration on their YouTube channel that I helped coordinate, featuring Colin Linden, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, Jesse Whiteley & Caitlin Hanford and Ken & Ben Whiteley all singing songs inspired by our old friend and swing master, Jackie Washington.
Also in honour of Jackie I’m featuring NO CHARGE POSTAL DELIVERY of all CD’s ordered from my web store this month. Check out the new Borealis release THE WORLD OF JACKIE WASHINGTON as well as my latest CALM IN THE EYE OF THE STORM.
On March 18 my wife Ellen got a notice from the Registered Nurses Assoc. of Ontario suggesting we go out at 7:30 and sing or make some noise for frontline workers. Since March 19 we’ve been singing and doing shout outs for frontline workers and others that people on the street feel should be honoured. The singing is very multigenerational, with the song leading passing around among whoever wants to lead on a given night. It has become transformative for all of us to feel this profound sense of community.
In August, to honour the 150th continuous night of doing this we had an impromptu “gala” where we all dressed up. Ceilidh Wood and I wrote this song the day before the 150th and I’m making it available here as a free download. Most of the parts were recorded outside, including about 30 people (physically distanced) singing along on the chorus right on the street. If you listen carefully you might hear a bird chirp, a car motor or the sound of wonderful, neighbourhood babies. Our 200th night is coming up on Oct. 4.
On March 19, in response to a request from the Reg. Nurses Assoc. of ON. we started singing and doing shout outs for frontline workers on our street. These continue to the present and have been a real catalyst for community building. Lots of different people lead the songs – some are professional, some are not but regardless who is singing, everyone brings something to play or keep time on. We sing a song, shout out for frontline workers and anyone who wants to, then contributes a shout out: Black and Indigenous Lives Matter, science, volunteers, caretakers, transit workers, etc. Then we sing another song and do another round of shout outs.
When we realized that we were about to do our 150th night of these we decided to celebrate it and Ceilidh Wood (pictured far left) and I wrote a song called Ode To The Road! I’m now in the process of making a recording of the song and once it’s done, I’ll make it available here on this page as a free download.
On Saturday, July 25 at 8 p.m. (EDT) I did a live stream concert for the Sivananda Yoga Ashram Camp in Val Morin, Quebec. It was supposed to be on their Facebook page but for some reason it landed on mine. Once it was over I shared it around so its probably easiest to find on Ken Whiteley’s Music page. It was a night of spiritual music, both traditional and original including a number of songs from my new cd, Calm In The Eye Of The Storm. I was originally scheduled to be performing in person there that night, but of course all my summer live appearances have been cancelled. If you wish to make a donation to support my work, you may do so from Ken’s website Store or www.paypal.me/kenwhiteley.
On Thursday, June 25, 8 p.m. EDT I am going to do a live stream concert on the Original Sloth Band Facebook page in honour of the 55th anniversary of the very first “gig” my brother, Chris Whiteley and I did.
It was at the Bracebridge Fair Grounds and the poster read, “Dance to the sounds of the Distortions, plus a popular group from Toronto”. The “popular group from Toronto” was Tubby Fats Original Allstar Downtown Syncopated Big Rock Jug Band who eventually morphed into TheOriginal Sloth Band. I played mostly jug and kazoo at that point, Chris played his Framus 12 string, Tom Evans played mandolin while brothers Michael and Patrick Lee played washtub bass and washboard respectively. The show was booked by Mary Tough, who Chris would eventually marry and they had 2 kids, Jenny Whiteley and Dan Whiteley.
Chris Whiteley will make a video guest appearance supported by his wife, blues singer Diana Braithwaite. Playing with me will be my son, the fabulous musician Ben Whiteley. He’ll be playing my old 20’s Gibson L-4 guitar (pictured below) that I used with the Original Sloth Band and also played on the original recording of Baby Beluga! We’ll feature many songs from the Sloth Band repertoire including songs I sang 55 years ago in Bracebridge and tunes from the three Sloth albums and our 45 rpm single. For those not familiar with the Sloths, we played an eclectic mix of jug band, swing, blues and novelty songs mostly from the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s.