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Thread: Blues, Stomps, & Rags #42

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Mar 2017
    Ottawa, Canada

    Default Blues, Stomps, & Rags #42

    Harrison Kennedy (b. 1942) is a blues, r&b, soul, and funk singer, as well as a multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, 12-string guitar, harmonica, mandolin, mandola, banjo, fife, spoons, percussion, and kazoo (I suspect that doesn't exhaust the list). Kennedy was born and raised in a musical family in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. "There was always music in our house. We had visitors like Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, and Lonnie Johnson who came because we were bootleggers on the weekend. My uncle Jack [Jackie] Washington used to bring them over to the house" (King, "A Converstaion…"). Jackie Washington is a Canadian musical legend, who performed and recorded with Ken Whiteley, Blues, S, & R #18, among others. As a child, Kennedy not only sang in church, but often visited American relatives in various states, exposing him to more music.

    In 1970, after playing in bands in Hamilton and Toronto, he was lured to Detroit to record with the Motown songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland's new, breakaway company. As a member of the Chairman of the Board, Kennedy sang lead vocal on "Give Me Just A Little More Time" and other hits. His instrumental career began when Eddie Holland wanted him to make an album. "I said, well I don't know how to play anything. He says, 'what is it you like?' I said, 'I like a guitar.' He reached into his pocket and brought out seventy-five bucks and says, 'go buy one.' I got a second-hand guitar. I went to a secondhand shop. Now, I had to learn to play the damn thing" (King). Looking at Kennedy's background, I suspect it wasn't the first time he'd held an instrument in his hands. He indicated in the same interview that he'd already played harmonica on takes of Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On," though not on the record.

    In 1974, Kennedy started out on a own solo career, but ended up serving with the US Army, then working for a chemical corporation. After nearly thirty years outside the music industry, he returned as a singer and musician. In 2008, he was nominated for Best Blues Recording in Canada's Juno Awards, and won second place against eighty-three others in the solo/duo category at the 2011 International Blues Challenge. In recent years, Kennedy has made a number of recordings and won awards for his music. He currently lives in Hamilton, and performs regularly.

    (Information from "Harrison Kennedy (musician)" Wikipedia; King, Bill. "A Conversation with Harrison Kennedy,"; and True, Chris. "Biography"

    For those living in the Ottawa, Canada area, and reading this around the time it was posted, Harrison Kennedy will be appearing with Michael Jerome Brown at Irene's on Bank Street, in the Glebe, at 8:00 pm. Wed., March 13, 2019 -- no guarantees as to what instruments he'll play.
    ( )

    Here's Kennedy playing one of his own compositions on mandola. If the links don't work, search YouTube for "Harrison Kennedy -- Shame The Devil".

    Here he is, talking about his music, and sampling some tunes on mandola and other instruments. If the links don't work, search YouTube for ""Shame The Devil" - Harrison Kennedy Promo".

    Last edited by Ranald; Mar-03-2019 at 11:38am. Reason: the usual
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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