Ken has been drawn to old and traditional songs and tunes since childhood. Playing harmonica since age 18, five-string banjo following a few years later, along with guitar and finally acquiring an English concertina a decade later – the object of interest that started it all – he has been actively playing and performing one thing or another since 1970.
Travelling extensively by thumb, boxcar, motorcycle, and homemade canoe since the age of thirteen (and still at it) and living in numerous rustic and out-of-the-way places has given Ken a unique understanding of the lifestyles of which he sings, and a first-hand sense of the regional and cultural nuances in the tunes he plays.
Don’t call Ken a scholar, or an academic, or an historian – he holds no degrees, has written no books, and can’t remember names and dates; he’s just a guy who lets the music and song lead the way to grand adventure, and delights in sharing it.
Ken has been an educator and chanteyman at Mystic Seaport Museum for much of the past twenty years.
A native New Englander, Ken first heard sea chanteys as a child listening to his parents’ record player and later found to his delight that he had a knack for rendering those tunes on the harmonica. He sings and plays traditional music on diatonic and chromatic harmonica, five-string banjo, and guitar, and has been performing at New England Contra dances, pubs, folk festivals, and concert stages for more than 20 years. After several appearances at the Sea Music Festival, he took on seasonal duties as a chanteyman. Ken has been described by fellow musicians as a consummate harmonica player.