November 12 was the one hundredth anniversary of Jackie Washington’s birth. Ken Whiteley, who is largely responsible for the late career success of the Hamilton legend, has assembled an impressive package to celebrate. Although Ken had caught Jackie at a folk festival in 1966 and accompanied him frequently afterwards, it was only in 1991 that the formal trio we’ve come to know was established. Where Old Friends Meet was the hugely popular debut of the Scarlett, Washington & Whiteley and led to a JUNO nomination in the Roots and Traditional category (the year before the blues Juno started). More albums and tours followed and as it became obvious that Jackie knew hundreds of songs including several more he wrote, even more recording sessions were arranged. The World of Jackie Washington contains 19 previously unreleased songs plus three new tributes from Ken, Colin Linden and Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer. Jackie’s music, the popular hits of early in the last century, often learned directly from the composers, was always upbeat, humourous, feel-good music and these songs make welcome additions to his discography. Accompanying Jackie are some the finest players you are likely to hear: Victor Bateman, Graham Townsend, Mose Scarlett, Reg Schwager and of course, the Whiteley clan. The second disc is a 2006 documentary by Ari A. Cohen called I Want to Be Happy: The Jackie Washington Story. Originally made for Bravo Television in 2005, Cohen has produced a masterful hour on Jackie and the Washington clan. Interviews with Jackie and family members including nephew Harrison Kennedy bring his story to life. Longtime Manager Bill Powell sums it up by saying his story is the story of music in Hamilton. The package also contains a brief but well-written history of Jackie’s life by Ken who also organized a Hugh’s Room celebration featuring Sneezy Waters, Chris Whiteley, John Sheard and himself plus other guests on November 17. I hope it too was preserved. Check out www.borealisrecords.com.

December 2019 - Bywater Call
December 2019 - Angel Forrest