When Ken Whiteley was a young boy in Toronto, he and his brother Chris would eagerly await their weekly allowance. From there, they headed straight to the iconic Sam the Record Man flagship store to spend it.
“We would go down once a week and buy a new record,” he said.
While the store that helped build Whiteley’s love of music has since been demolished, the music he’s made in the decades since lives on. And on Saturday night, he’ll be bringing his songs to life on stage at the Harrison Memorial Hall.
“I’ve always loved music,” Whiteley said in a phone interview this week. “All my life. I’ve been singing my whole life. In elementary school, I was the one boy in class who just wanted to sing out.”
He was 12 and his brother was 15 when they began playing folk music together. Having a brother to learn and play was a benefit to the young musician.
“It was really good to have that synergy between us,” he said. By the time he finished high school, he was playing music publicly. And while he had thought briefly about teaching, music remained his main passion — and eventually his life’s work.
“It became clear to me by the time I was 20 that this is what I wanted to do,” he said.
In the time that’s passed, he’s earned a list of awards and nominations almost as long as his discography. Part of that is longevity of career, but it’s also due to his strong work ethic.
“I’ve been at this for a long time, and I’m happy to receive the recognition but you still have to beat the bushes,” he said. “There’s no resting on your laurels.”
While he enjoys being noticed for his work, he values the nods from his peers the most.
“To be seen as an active and creative artist, that means a lot me,” he said. “But the public forums, you have to take that with a grain of salt. There’s a capricious element with those sort of things and if you get too hung up on Junos or whatever it really detracts you.”
Tickets for the Sat., Apr. 5 show are $22 and available by calling 604-796-3664 or visiting www.harrisonfestival.com.