Good things take time. Brothers Chris and Ken Whiteley have spent years becoming well versed in a multitude of musical styles by drawing inspiration from many wells. Whether playing blues, swing, jazz, gospel, rhythm and blues, jug band or folk, the brothers do it with finesse, respect and intimate knowledge. These qualities have served them very, very well.
Chris and Ken’s list of musical accomplishments thus far reads like a list of dream goals talented musicians would set for their entire careers. Since the sixties, The Whiteley Brothers, together and individually, have been in demand as performers, multi-instrumentalist session players, songwriters and producers. With over 150 recordings between them, eight Juno nominations, Blues Album of the Year Award, multiple Lifetime Achievement Awards, and countless festival appearances, the two have explored their musical creativity to great critical and popular success. Among many others, they’ve worked with John Hammond Jr., Leon Redbone, Blind John Davis, Guy Davis, The Campbell Brothers, and were the first Canadian act invited to perform at the prestigious Chicago Blues Festival. And throughout, the brothers have continued to create their own blues inspired music.
Taking Our Time is nothing but the brothers! Chris and Ken Whiteley composed, wrote, played, sang and produced every note you hear; strings, percussion, keyboards, winds and voices. Read that part again if you must. It is rare to find musicians who can pull something like this off. Each piece is produced lovingly, with respect for the song. What defines many of these new songs is timelessness. These songs hit home or as John Valentyn in the Maple Blues put it, “some of the very best new songs I’ve heard anywhere.” The Whiteley Brothers have provided us with a glimpse of the past, present and future in this very new and very wonderful recording. Rarely, but sometimes, water from a new source enters the well.
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The Whiteley Brothers Facts
- Chris Whiteley was born in 1948 in Manhattan, Kansas. Brother Ken was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania in 1951. They’ve lived in Toronto, Ontario, Canada since 1956.
- Chris and Ken began performing professionally in 1965.
- They play over 20 different instruments, prominently featuring Chris on trumpet, harmonica, guitar and vocals and Ken on 6 & 12 string guitars, mandolin, piano and vocals.
- They have appeared on well over 150 recordings including work with John Hammond, Blind John Davis, Leon Redbone, Curly Bridges, folk artists like Tom Paxton, Sylvia Tyson, Stan Rogers, Cathy Fink and most of North America’s finest children’s artists. A complete discography is available.
- Live appearances have included over 100 folk festival appearances, club and concert performances across Canada and in the United States. They are frequently featured on CBC Radio and have been on a number of TV shows including Saturday Night Live. Their invitation to the 1993 Chicago Blues Festival marks a first for any Canadian group.
- “Bluesology” received the Best Blues Album of the Year Award from the Jazz Report Canadian Jazz Awards. They’ve received 8 Juno nominations including for “Sixteen Shades of Blue”, Chris’ “Blues Party”, and Ken’s work with Scarlett, Washington & Whiteley.
- “Taking Our Time” features the Whiteley brothers in an outing of all original songs. In it they play all the instruments themselves (21 in total). Maple Blues has said of it, “some of the best new songs I have heard anywhere”.
- In 2009, they received 4 nominations at the Maple Blues Awards. Chris received the prestigious Blues With A Feeling Award (lifetime achievement) and Horn Player of the Year. In addition, Chris and Diana Braithwaite received the Songwriter of the Year and Ken was nominated for the Blues With A Feeling Award too. The Brothers have received a total of 13 nominations, including Chris’ 4 wins.