Notable playing and recording credits include:
Shared stage with:
Donnie Walsh (Downchild Blues Band), George Thorogood, Gordie Johnson and
Kelly Hoppe from Big Sugar, James Cotton, Sleepy Labeef, Nappy
Brown, Bobby Parker, Tom
“Bones” Malone (Late Night with David Letterman / The Blues Brothers),
members of The Supremes, members of The Northern Mississippi All Stars,
members of the Memphis Horns
- 1971 Ken was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada on October 20, 1971
- 1973 Started playing at age 2 and took lessons from father, Bill McMahon (long time Winnipeg jazz drummer and drummer with The George Reznik Trio)
- Spent years studying Reg Keln (Lenny Breau, Tom Jones, Fred Penner)
- Was in school jazz and concert bands from grade 7 to 11
- 1984 Already sitting in with top Winnipeg musicians by age 13 (Jimmy King, Ron Paley, George Reznik)
- 1987 Did first professional gig on the patio of The Pony Corral, Pembina Hwy with "The System"
- 1990 Started giging and touring full time with a variety of groups
- 1993 Winner of the Jimmy King Memorial Trust Scholarship
- 1993 Took a career defining lesson from Terry Clark (Boss Brass, Fifth Dimension)
- 1993 Joined and started touring with Juno award winners "Big Dave McLean and The Muddy-Tones"
- 1996 Joined The Rockin' Highliners and moved to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
- 1998 Was nominated for a Juno Award in the category "Best Blues Album" with The Rockin' Highliners
- 1998 Nominated for The Maple Blues Award "Drummer of The Year"
- 1999 Nominated for The Maple Blues Award "Drummer of The Year"
- 1999 Relocated to Toronto with The Rockin' Highliners
- 2000 Nominated for The Maple Blues Award "Drummer of The Year"
- 2001 Moved from Toronto back to Winnipeg
- 2003 Left The Rockin' Highliners to concentrate on freelancing
- 2009 Was nominated for a Juno Award in the category "Best Blues Album" with Big Dave McLean
- 2009 Was nominated for a Juno Award in the category "Aboriginal Recording of The Year" with Billy Joe Green
- Currently Since 2002 Ken has played and recorded with more that 50 different artists
I could sit here writing for a
long time about what has been special to me so far in my musical journey,
but I will just mention a few things right now that I think are important. I
have been lucky enough to do numerous tours throughout Canada and The United
States over the years, as well as numerous trips to Europe.
I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything. A definite
highlight was the 13 city cross Canada tour that The Rockin’ Highliners
did opening for George Thorogood in 1999. You haven’t lived until George
puts on a gorilla mask and sings backup to one of your bands original tunes.
I’ve been able to do many television and radio appearances in Canada and
The United States including most notably, three national appearances on “Late
Night with Mike Bullard".
Playing the South by Southwest Music
Conference in Austin, TX. Was an amazing experience, it’s like the
Disneyland of music. The 14th Annual International Blues Talent Competition
in Memphis, TN. was my first trip to the southern United States. It was truly
a powerful experience. The 1999 Red Barn Fundraiser for Frontier College,
hosted by Peter Gzowski and the 1998 Peter Gzowski “Radio Cabaret” in
Edmonton AB. were
two chances to be meet a Canadian legend and be part of something great.
Also three trips to Europe headlining festivals with Sue Foley was amazing.
I’ve been lucky enough to do dozens of festival appearances including
Ottawa Citizen Blues Festival ~ Ottawa, ON.
Harvest Blues and Jazz Festival ~ Fredericton, NB.
Buffalo Rocks The Inner Harbor ~ Buffalo, NY.
Bospop Festival ~ Weert, Holland
King Biscuit Blues Festival ~ Helena, AR.
- Little Rock Blues
Festival ~ Little Rock, AR.
Alleyfest ~ Longview, TX
Winnipeg Folk Festival ~ Winnipeg, MB
Sighisoara Blues Festival ~ Sighisoara, Romania
Lucerne Blues Festival ~ Lucerne, Switzerland
Rauma Blues Festival ~ Rauma, Finland
Blues Alive Festival ~ Sumperk, Czech Republic
I am a firm believer in the
“Zen” of the quarter note (The groove is the most important thing).
Maintain a less is more philosophy when playing.
Play for the song, not for myself.
Always try to give the singer or soloist what they need when they are doing
Although I have played many different styles of music throughout my career
my heart lies with “Roots” oriented music.
A lot of people have asked me
over the years, who is my favorite drummer? I have a really hard time
picking one, but these picks (not in any specific order) have given me much
drumming inspiration throughout my life!
Willie “Big Eyes” Smith