Diamond Joe and Penny White
Diamond Joe White has travelled somewhat ‘under the radar’ on the Canadian music scene, critically acclaimed, but seldom properly recognized for his unique talents as a singer, songwriter. White’s music is a combination of folk-country songs delivered in a crusty vocal style, perhaps not what mainstream country radio stations are comfortable with.
Diamond Joe White’s recording career spans some four vinyl albums issued over a decade-long period (1978-1988) and a more recent retrospective CD. His first album, “Too Many Changes”, released on Casino Records (#CA-1011) in 1978 featured his first single “Where’s The Reason” b/w “The Hearse Song”; but it was his rendition of the Woody Guthrie-penned ballad, “Buffalo Skinner” that attracted the most attention. Diamond Joe’s version of that epic song has become a highlight moment of his “live” shows.
His next two albums were released on Stony Plain Records, the 1981 “High Rider” (#SPL-1040) with the title track, a song about John Ware, a black cowboy migrating from Texas to run a horse ranch in Alberta, released as a single b/w “Maybe In The Morning”. The second single from the album, “It Took The Wine” b/w “Cigarette & Whiskey Blues”, released in 1982, earned Diamond Joe White his first chart appearance with the record peaking at #34. A third single, “Northern Journey” b/w “Out On The Streets” did not make the charts. The second Stony Plain album “Branded’ (SPL-1059), was hi-lited by the single “Leaving You Blues” b/w “Hush This Storm, which reached #40 on the national charts in 1983. A follow-up single, “No One In The Shadows” b/w “Rodeo Red” did not chart.
In 1988 Diamond Joe White recorded the album “Highway Blues”, which also featured his wife Penny White on lead and harmony vocals. Released on Shortgrass Records (#SGRA 8805), the album, like most of the work from his three earlier albums, was filled largely by his own compositions….this time taking a page out of the Jimmie Rodgers songbook by sub-titling some of the songs – i.e. “Travellin’ On (Highway Blues No.1)”, “Nameless Highway (Highway Blues No.2)”; “Believing In Today (Highway Blues No.3)” and “Reason To Stay (Highway Blues No.4)”. The album was not promoted commercially and failed to garner the attention it deserved.
In 1997 Diamond Joe White returned to the music scene with the release of the CD “Honestly”, a collection of newly recorded versions of past hits as well as some new material. The CD featured his classic offerings of “Buffalo Skinner”, “Ode To Wilf Carter” and “High Rider – (The John Ware Story)”. A follow-up CD “My Favourites – Part Two” has also been released.
In addition to his own albums, Diamond Joe White’s recordings have been included on several Various Artists Compilation albums including the 1998 “Coaldust Grins” package which featured his song “China White”, and the “Alberta: Wild Roses-Northern Lights” Compilation album which contained his song “High Rider (The John Ware Song)”.
Although largely overlooked by the Canadian music industry, Diamond Joe White was recognized by his musical peers with back-to back nominations for Country Male Vocalist in the 1983 and 1984 JUNO Awards.
TRIVIA NOTE – Diamond Joe White is a certified Plumber and operates his own business “Diamond Joe’s Plumbing” in Chemainus, British Columbia.