2008 Performers Album Release Blues Folk

Jackie Washington, Mose Scarlett and Ken Whitely

George Hector’s Son Jim Amazed by Jackie Washington

Jackie Washington CD cover

I called Jim Hector in November about a matter not music related but found him still excited by a TV concert he’d seen days before. Jim is one of the late George Hector’s sons, NB’s legendary banjo man, “Had I heard of Jackie Washington?” he asked.

“The other night there was this guy Jackie Washington singing a song I never heard anyone else but my father sing..Save The Bones For Henry Jones. I never thought I’d hear it again!” Jim is a blacksmith who travels the province, when able, shoeing horses at riding stables, race tracks, and at many private owners barns. And although semi-retired due to a severe back problem he still manages to keep active. In fact, for decades Jim has been almost as popular with equestrians as his father was by music fans.

George Hector of the Maritime Farmers
George Hector of the Maritime Farmers
Or as George’s other son Ed, a mechanic, was with vehicle owners. The Hectors, including Jim and Ed’s sister Rhoda are a diversely talented family. “Another guy on that show sang He’s In The Jail House Now,” Jim said. “Another song Dad sang!” “Guy with a short black beard? I asked. He nodded.

“Mose Scarlett,” I said. “There’s a guy with a white beard usually with them, too…Ken Whiteley. But Jackie’s the only one, I guess, owns a razor.“ “He was there too,” Jim said.

“They record for Borealis,” I said, “Canada’s leading folk and blues label. They’ve CDs out solo and as a trio.” Jim’s enthusiasm rekindled mine. This trio of folk-blues singing musicians are so infectious, I’ve long intended reviewing their CDs but never, until now, found a window to do it.

Jackie Washington has recorded two CDs at the Borealis Toronto studios.

One titled Midnight Choo Choo includes such vintage favourites as: Street Of Dreams, Little Dutch Mill, Dinah, Triscadecaphobia, Where Did Robinson Crusoe Go (With Friday On Saturday Night?), Alabamy Bound, Save The Bones, the title song and ten more that, probably have haunted your dreams for years!

And, although Jackie does all lead vocals, his trio partners contributed their multi- talents along with 14 other musicians including J.P. Cormier on fiddle. His other Borealis CD, Keeping Out of Mischief, is a 19-track album, also, that includes such nostalgic hits as: At Sundown, Girl of My Dreams, Foolish Questions, Blue Turning Grey Over You, Drifting,Old Folks, Take The ‘A’ Train, the title song, a powerful version of Everybody Will Be Happy Over There, and 11 more. Ken backs him on guitars, mandolin, organ, piano, harmonies, Mose guitar, and another 13 musicians that include Nashville’s sensational dobroist, Jerry Douglas.

Mose Scarlett CD

Mose Scarlett is one of a kind! His self-taught guitar finger-picking defies categorization or comparison. Dubbed ‘stride guitar’ by experts, it’s so syncopated it beguiles. And over and under it slides one of the most unique, emotional bass baritone voices you’ll ever hear. It can reach to the basement of the vocal registry, yet come up floors so effortlessly without a pause.

Mose’s Borealis Precious Seconds CD, is a 15 song album running a time line from 1912’s the I Used To Love You But It’s All Over, to 1917’s Darktown Strutter’s Ball, 1918’s Somebody Stole My Gal, 1921’s Anytime, 1925’s Bye Bye Blues, 1927’s My Blue Heaven, 1935’s Lulu’s Back In Town, up to 1975’s Don’t Go Lookin’ For Trouble and Mose’s own catchy Muscatel Tale. In between are wedged Sweet Lorraine and four others including the longest version of He’s In The Jail House Now, I’ve heard.

Ken Whiteley CDS

Ken Whiteley is a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose recording history is long, both as a solo artist, dueting with brother Chris, in trio with Scarlett and Washington, or with Gospel choirs. Ken plays mandolin, piano, ukulele, washtub and acoustic bass but the magic instrument in his hands is his National steel body guitar with its haunting dobro sound. He has a wonderful natural singing voice, that he can turn into a forceful gospel or blues instrument. Of three solo CDs he’s issued on Borealis my favourite is Musical Mystery Machines, a project of Mariposa In Schools that matched him with children performers to create learning programs for school curricula. Ken uses only his natural voice on this CD, enhanced by intriguing sound effects and a thrilling child chorus.

Another, Gospel Music Makes Me Feel Alright, recorded Live, into which he poured his soul. is emotional. You can feel the prophetic fervor of a Billy Graham in his voice on such songs as Let My Life Be A Prayer, the title song, Voice Of The Lord and Wilderness. But Traveling On sung in his natural voice is my favourite.

The Trio ‘s Borealis CDs

The trio’s three Borealis CDs … Where Old Friends Meet, We’ll Meet Again and Setting On A Rainbow…are the most beautiful and captivating folk blues I’ve heard. Their blended talents make rarities like Lady be Good, Mood Indigo, When You’re Smiling, Wait ‘Til The Sun Shines Nelly and dozens more, sparkle like new, take your breath away.

To learn more visit or phone 1-877-530-4288. Check out Ken Whiteley’s new One World Dance CD, too.

2008 Performers Folk Jazz

Making a mark (Hill) in time at Chet’s Convention

“What on earth is he doing?”

markhillphoto08smGuitarist Mark Hill’s Up Home Tonight audition in the mid-80’s probably still exists in the dark recesses of some ATV film vault. What is not recorded on it is went on behind the camera such as that query by producer/ director Barry Bramhill.

“Unbelievable, but he’s finger picking the melody on the treble strings,” the show’s host, Gordon Stobbe, an amazing instrumentalist himself, explained, “and a split second later, picking it on the bass strings with his thumb.”

“Is that humanly possible?” Barry asked.

“Well, that’s what we’re seeing and hearing,” Gordon said.

It was the first expression of utter amazement I’d heard in all the auditions I’d sat in on with them, auditions that brought so many extraordinary musicians and singers out of the proverbial woodwork.

markhillcdcover08It’s that rare dexterity of mind and hand that Mark exhibits playing his interpretation of Moulin Rouge, its fingered melody with the thumb picking that sounds like an overdub so exquisite I nearly forget how beautiful Zsa Zsa Gabor looked singing it in the original 1954 movie of the same name. It’s one of twelve instrumentals on his new CD A Mark In Time he took copies of to the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society (CAAS) Convention at Sheraton Music City Hotel near Opryland this week, July 9-12.

Mark paraded his great diversity before the ATV audition camera that day….classical, standard, Chet Atkin’s style country, Lenny Breau jazziness, Jerry Reid poker club blues picking!

That diversity and exquisite simplicity is what brought Mark to the attention of so many at the Convention last year after US reviewer Palmer Moore enthusiastically praised his 2006 release Mark Hill Picks On Chet. He rhapsodized:

‘I am so excited to announce a new name (and certified Chet nut) to fans in the Chet Circle… Mark Hill! He’s from the Canadian Maritimes and one heck of a picker. His dad taught him how to play Chet tunes early and, even though he has progressed through heavy classical and jazz studies, he never forgot his love of the thumb picking stuff his dad left in his head.

‘After years of professionally playing jazz, flamenco and blues with a fairly successful band he formed with his brother Steve (the Hills brothers Blues Band) it was his dad that suggested he might drop back and record some Chet music which he did.’ Which led to that review.

‘Will he ever have a loud stage act like Emanuel or Dykes and do world tours? Probably not!’ he continues. ‘Could he hold his own with either of those two or with Richard Smith? I’m sure he could! Will we ever see him at the CAAS Annual Convention in Nashville? I sure hope so and I hope he sells a ton of these Hill Picks On Chet CDs.’

Well, maybe Mark didn’t quite sell a ton last year at this event but he did sell a bunch and, more importantly, he says, met a lot of Nashville’s top guitar session players and was greatly encouraged by their interest and praise and the thrill of being invited back.

Mark’s new album, A Mark In Time is a mixture of up beat and slow tempo tunes, carefully chosen and brilliantly performed. Besides the title tune, El Senteio, Oscar’s Walk, Hubbard’s Cubbard (a little music word play on Mother’s Hubbard’s Cupboard) and the rollicking, joy filled Twin Pipe Papa (Ohio Romp) are all gems that reflect Mark’s genius as a composer.

And his interpretations of such world favourites as Paganini’s Rhapsody, Limehouse Blues, Three Little Words, Cascade and Don McLean’s Vincent are incredibly meticulous and inspired, his version of Paul Yandell’s Coming Home shows how well Mark can straight pick and then break into such great single line improvising.

Backing Mark’s elegant guitar work, his brother Steve plays drums, percussion and harmonica, Brian Baker bass and mandolin and Pete Belliveau, who engineered the CD, percussion,as well. It was produced by Dave Hill. The beautiful cover design is by Steve Hill, a former artist and cartoonist with this paper.

The Chet Atkins Appreciation Convention Mark is attending…it started yesterday and continues through Saturday…was founded in 1983 by an extreme Atkins fan Jim Ferron. It yearly attracts hundreds of the world’s best finger pickers so to stand out you have to have something special! Locally A Mark In Time will be available at Backstreet Records, Saint John.


February, end of the day!

discussing fiddle music
Discussing fiddle music on the road
Music Vinyl Visitors

Breaking News! Visitors

talking New Brunswick history with long play examples
Talking New Brunswick history with long play examples

looking at the record collection

Looking at the record collection