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From Jaffa Road to Sacred Steel!

Come out Saturday, March 2 for this great concert. Last fall I performed with Jaffa Road and Aviva Chernick at the new Hugh’s Room Live on Broadview and it was an awesome time. This time I will be one of their guests in this beautiful, timely concert at Metropolitan Community Church. Go to https://www.mcctoronto.com/mcc-toronto-concerts/ and you can purchase tickets.

I will be performing concerts and workshop over the Easter weekend (March 30, 31) at the Sivananda Yoga Ashram Camp in Val Morin, Quebec.

On Sunday, April 14, 2 p.m., at Hugh’s Room Live, Broadview Ave., Toronto, I will be presenting a special gospel show with the fabulous Nikki D. and the Sisters of Thunder. Nikki D. is one of the most exciting proponents of the style of music known as “Sacred Steel”. You have to hear the music she can generate from her lap steel guitar.

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Christmas concerts

I’ve got some special appearances between now and Christmas – a concert Dec. 16 at the Virginia United Church (Hwy. 48, east of Sutton) and concerts with the Sultans of String and their Christmas Caravan on Dec. 22, 23 at Kingston Road United Church, Toronto.

Here’s a little promo video I made for this concert, presented by Cedar Hedge Concert series and Matt Large Presents.

Sultans of String Christmas Caravan!

3x JUNO nominees/6x CFMA winning SULTANS OF STRING serve up Holiday Cheer & Goodwill for the Daily Bread Food Bank and the UNHCR with their Christmas CaravanShow!

TWO NIGHTS!  
Dec 22 & 23, 2023, 7:00pm

With Special Guests:

• Vocalist Rebecca Campbell (Jane Siberry, Ian Tamblyn)
• Folk Blues icon Ken Whiteley
• French chanteuse Kristine St-Pierre
• Cuban percussionist Alberto Suarez
• Nyckelharpa player Saskia Tomkins
• Latin Vocalist Amanda Martinez
• Indigenous Vocalist Shannon Thunderbird

WHERE:
Kingston Road Village Concert Series, 975 Kingston Rd, Toronto, ON M4E 1T1

TIX/INFO:
$35, https://kingstonroadvillageconcerts.eventbrite.com

Meanwhile So Glad I’m Here got a lovely review in the Whole Note magazine. They said, “Each of the nine songs is a treasure, but a highlight is the title track with Whiteley’s finger style guitar intro and Azad’s solo, which is a true stunner.”

You can order all my recordings including The Light of Christmas, So Glad I’m Here and all of my other recordings from the Store page of my website.

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“So Glad I’m Here” out, new single and special release concert

cover of album

The new recording which started as a collaboration with Sufi musician, Davod Azad and bassist George Koller is finally available! You can purchase physical copies or downloads right here. I’m excited by how the album has grown with the additions of a select number of additional singers and musicians. Watch for it wherever else you get your music. It’s making its way through the various streaming and download systems.

I’m also excited about a brand new single, an edited down version of “There’s A Candle” from the new album. The song was inspired by words of the 13th century Persian poet, Rumi. It invites us to ignite the flame of love in our hearts and let the light fill our soul. Clearly a needed message in these troubled and troubling times. It is my free download of the month at the bottom of this post! There is also a lyric video for the song you can veiw here.

We had a fabulous time at the first Sunday Gospel Matinee, Nov. 12, 2 p.m., at the new Hugh’s Room Live, 296 Broadview Ave., north of Dundas. The visionary world music ensemble Jaffa Road, incredible bassist George Koller and the wonderful Sharon Riley were all fantastic. I would love another opportunity to do this again!

Here is the single version of There’s A Candle from the album So Glad I’m Here. This version is only available here. You can download it by clicking on the three little buttons to the right of the speaker symbol.

“There’s A Candle”, based on a poem by Rumi, composed and performed by Ken Whiteley, with Davod Azad, tar, George Koller, string bass, Nagmah Farahmand, percussion
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Fall shows and a new album!

First up is a Whiteley Family show with brother Chris, son Ben and nephew Jesse at the Acoustic Harvest in Scarborough. Here’s where you can get tickets. This will be a wonderful and rare chance for the four of us to perform together. Chris Whiteley, master songwriter, guitarist, trumpet and harmonica player is mostly busy performing in the blues duo with his wife, Diana Braithwaite. Jesse Whiteley is busy playing piano with all kinds of projects including Raoul Bhaneja, Kristin Lindell and his own gigs around town. Bassist Ben Whiteley’s efforts this fall are on a brand new The Weather Station recording as well as other projects with Georgia Harmer and Emma Worley among others. Acoustic Harvest is a great concert venue.

At the brand new Hugh’s Room Live I’ll be premiering my new album “So Glad I’m Here” on Sunday, Nov. 12 @ 2 p.m. The new location at 296 Broadview Ave. is a great spot. The concert will run on the format of my long standing gospel shows that I have done with Hugh’s Room since 2002. I hope to be joined on stage by none other than the visionary world music ensemble Jaffa Road.

cover photo of “So Glad I’m Here” by Colin Medley

I have played around with different titles for my new album but have decided on “So Glad I’m Here”. That was the first, very well received single from the album and it seemed to encapsulate the moment. I will have more information soon on it’s release.

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So Glad I’m Here and …

I’ve just released a new single, “So Glad I’m Here” which is a track from my forthcoming album “Bigger Than That” to be released in the fall of 2023. The album features the brilliant Sufi musician Davod Azad as well as contributions from many others. “So Glad I’m Here” is based in a wonderful traditional Georgia Sea Island song that I learned initially from Bessie Jones. Like other tracks on the album it started as a jam session with Davod on the Iranian stringed instrument the tar and George Koller on string bass. I’m playing my custom Laskin 6 string. Later I added harmony vocals, accordion, percussion and harmonica. The single and the album it is from are expressions of being in the present and celebrating connection. It is now available on all the normal digital outlets!

Davod Azad, Ken Whiteley & George Koller at the sessions

I will be performing a concert and workshop at the Sivananda Yoga Ashram Ranch in Woodbourne, N.Y. as part of a celebration that straddles the Canada Day weekend and the 4th of July. This is the ashram where I did my yoga teacher training in 2011 and the song “Bigger Than That” came to me at the end of that process. There will be a number of wonderful teachers and presenters there over that time, great food, yoga classes, meditation, group chanting, other concerts and it is a beautiful spot.

Sivananda Yoga Ranch

On July 20 at 2162 Gordon Street Guelph N1L 1G6 I will performing at “Gather”, in concert at an old fashioned barn party in historic Beattie-Blair Barn (circa 1870) from 6:30-9:30pm. Other artists include the incredible guitarist Donna Grantis (Prince, etc.) and the wonderful duo Tragedy Ann. This fundraising event will also feature complimentary food & drink, speakers and a participatory art installation. Doug Ford’s decision to open the Greenbelt to developers is a betrayal of the will of the people of Ontario and our precious environment. Please gather with us to help us continue our fight. Ticket info is here

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New Easter video

I just posted a new Easter song called The Stone Was Rolled Away.


It’s just me and my National guitar recorded live off the floor. It’s interesting that despite Easter being considered such a seminal event in Christianity there are so few songs that actually tell the story of that first Easter.  As I reflect on the story now, I’m struck by the fact that so often the way stones in our lives roll away is not the way we hope or expect.  Whatever your spiritual beliefs, it is a great story.


For many years I’ve done Easter performances at the Sivananda Yoga Ashram in Val Morin, Quebec and I would have been there this year except my wife came down with COVID somewhere coming back from the CFMA‘s last weekend.  It didn’t seem like a good idea to be leading an indoor singing workshop, etc. if I might be spreading germs.  Instead I stayed home and made this video.  I hope some of you enjoy it.

A new song of the first Easter.
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A CFMA nomination and performance in Vancouver, Easter at the Sivananda Yoga Ashram in Val Morin !!!

I am delighted that my album “Long Time Travelling” has been nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award for Best Traditional Album! All of the award activities are happening in Vancouver this year. On Friday, March 31 at 6 p.m. I will be performing in The Traditional Music Nominee Showcase Concert at Mel Lehan Hall. The award ceremonies take place Saturday, April 1 and Sunday, April 2 at 6 p.m, also at Mel Lehan Hall.  The traditional album award (as well Children’s Album for which Hannah Shira Naiman is nominated for an album I produced) happen on Sunday and both award nights will be live streamed at www.folkawards.ca  You can check out that site for ticket information as well if you are going to be in the Vancouver area.

At the Sivananda Yoga Ashram Camp, Val Morin, Quebec

In 2002 I began another longstanding tradition of giving Easter performances at the Sivananda Yoga Ashram in Val Morin, Quebec.  For the last three years I have had to do them virtually but this year I will be returning in person, April 7 – 9. I will give a concert on Saturday evening and again on Sunday morning as part of their 6 a.m. Easter satsang as well as a participatory workshop during the day.  It is a great place to go with daily yoga classes, sauna, great hiking trails and 2 delicious vegetarian meals a day.

https://sivanandacanada.org/camp/retreats/

I had a great time working on a new Kathy Reid Naiman children’s album, “Spring Is Coming” and I’m looking forward to starting a project with a great Canadian blues singer, Garnetta Cromwell.  Stay tuned!

A big thanks to everyone who came out to the Revival on Sunday, March 19 for our first Hugh’s Room Live Gospel Matinee in 3 years. It was by all accounts a wonderful show with marvelous four part harmony singing (David Wall, Ciceal Levy, Pat Patrick and myself) and fantastic rhythm section of Gord Mowat and Gary Craig.

Thanks so much and hope to see you soon!

The free Song of the Month is the title track from the new album “Long Time Travelling.

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When winter comes, can spring be far behind…?

My family album, Join The Band was recorded in 2004 and it went on to win a Canadian Folk Music Award, a Parent’s Choice Award and a Juno nomination. The recording of mostly original songs explores a wide range of musical instruments and was released on Kathy Reid Naiman’s Merriweather Records. I’m currently in the studio with Kathy, producing a new children’s album of Spring songs and one day she brought me several boxes of the Join the Band cd. I figured it was the perfect time to have a sale! As of right now the physical copy of Join the Band is available from my website for only $9.00 (plus shipping, etc.).

The song “Join the Band” will be my free Song-of-the-month-download as well. I remember when we recorded this song it had about 60 different tracks for all the many instruments featured. Each verse covers different groups of instruments: drums & percussion, keyboards, strings, horns, etc. It features many wonderful musicians including a great horn arrangement by Sarah McElcheran, drums and percussion by Bucky Berger and Dick Smith and Amoy and Ciceal Levy on harmony vocals as well as a room full of kids! The great cover art was done by Ian Bell.

I promise to get back to posting some more videos about my “Long Time Travelling” album. That album was recently nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award in the Traditional Recording category and the awards will be held March 31 – April 2, 2023.

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Fall is on the way – gigs & new video

Fall is on the way and I have a new video and some great gigs I’m looking forward to.

On Sept. 30 I will be in concert at the Brampton Folk Club (Sanderson Hall at St. Paul’s United Church, 30 Main St. S. in Brampton).  Joining me will be The Beulah Band: Rob McLaren – banjo, guitar, vocals, Gord Mowat – string bass and Ciceal Levy – percussion, vocals.  My longtime singing friend, Ciceal made her first appearance with the Beulah Band this summer at the Northern Lights Festival Boreal in Sudbury and was awesome.  7:30 showtime with an opening act and we’ll play two full sets.

Ken Whiteley & The Beulah Band at the Northern Lights Festival in Sudbury, Summer 2022
Ciceal Levy, Ken, Rosalyn Dennett, Gord Mowat

I will also be accompanying David Sereda and author Anne Michaels at Harbourfront’s outdoor Concert Stage as part of the Toronto International Festival of Authors.  The concert is September 24, 8 p.m.  The show draws on the iconic songwriting and poetry of Toronto in the 1960’s and 70’s.

I will be performing at the Folk Music Ontario conference in London, Ontario which runs from October 13 – 16.  Also, at a time still being determined I’ll be part of the record release for Hannah Shira Naiman’s new cd, “Wheels Won’t Go”.  I had the great pleasure of producing the recording and it will be so fun to play it live.

My album Calm In The Eye Of The Storm came out just as the pandemic lockdown was beginning. Check out the brand new video for the song “Saluting The Sun” from that recording. Saluting the sun is a reference to the sun salutations or surya namaskar which has been part of my daily yoga practice for 30 years. It celebrates connecting with the light “even masked by the grey” and keeping going even when it is hard. As we begin the journey into the darker, colder months may this song be a reminder to persevere.

“Saluting The Sun” will be this month’s free song download. I will resume putting up songs from my new album Long Time Travelling soon.

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Farewell to Nova Scotia and Ben & Ken livestream!

The new song-of-the-month download is my bluesy take on Farewell To Nova Scotia, this month I performed two live stream concerts and the entire new album, Long Time Travelling is now available here on my website to purchase and download!

Hear some of the hows and whys I’ve transformed this Nova Scotian classic .

Farewell to Nova Scotia was based on a very old Scottish song, the Soldier’s Adieu. It became a folk classic after folklorist Helen Creighton collected a number of versions in the 1930’s in the Chezzetcook area of Nova Scotia. To get to that part of the province from Halifax you coincidentally drive through or past the African Nova Scotian communities of Cherry Brook and North and East Preston.

When I considered this song for my new album of old folk songs Long Time Travelling, I looked at the words and saw much darker lyrical content than a happy singalong might suggest. It was on that basis that I decided to perform it more as a blues song, featuring slide guitar on my old National metal resonator guitar. Once I’d taken that approach I decided to change the lyrics to reflect someone who instead of hearing the Captain’s call and obeying decides NOT to go to war. As I developed this character in my mind he transformed into an African Nova Scotian. I recalled a discussion I had at the Black Cultural Centre in Cherry Brook talking about the tension of “the fiddle and the drum” – how the Celtic cultural heritage of Nova Scotia is rightly celebrated but the centuries old black culture of the province often doesn’t get its due.

This is my personal back story that I created in reinterpreting this song. In my video introduction to the song I share a bit about slide guitar, a map and a quick shot from a Mother’s Day service at St. Thomas Baptist Church in North Preston among other highlights. It’s also the first of my videos using two cameras at the same time!

You can arrange to download my recording of Farewell To Nova Scotia at the bottom of this page.

Live stream concert

Ben and Ken Whiteley prepare for a rare performance together.

On Wednesday, April 20 I performed a livestream concert featuring most of the songs from my new album, Long Time Travelling on my Ken Whiteley Music Facebook page. Playing with me was Ben Whiteley, just back from a month of touring in Europe with The Weather Station. I’m excited because Ben and I were the only musicians on the new recording and this will be a rare chance to perform some of the songs together. I played fretless banjo, slide guitar, sruti box, autoharp and mandocello while Ben played electric guitar, lap steel, percussion and sang harmonies.

This performance was sponsored by the Toronto Musicians Association through the Music Performance Trust Fund and the cooperation of the Toronto Blues Society. If you find it on the KenWhiteleyMusic page, fast forward past the opening screen shot to when the music actually begins around a dozen minutes in.

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