Jeff Warner brings the latest news from the distant past

Bob Bossin

Press Release

Wednesday, October 12 2016

“Old clothes fall apart,” says Jeff Warner, “but old songs are like cannonballs; they stay around for centuries.” Warner, who will perform at the Roxy on October 13, is my nominee for the best folk singer in America. He has a warm baritone voice and a mischievous sense of humour; he plays most any instrument you can name; and his repertoire is encyclopaedic, ranging from black gospel to shanties to music hall. Archie Fisher, the dean of Scottish folk music, calls Warner his “favourite Americana musician.” Said another British reviewer, “Quite simply, he’s the most charismatic, enthusiastic and genuinely versatile performer on the scene.” Amen.

In a time when most of us folk singers rarely sing a folk song, Warner daws his repertoire almost entirely from old songs. “I love the glimpses of history you get in folk songs,” he told me. “People’s humanity comes through in their musical choices. If people have sung a song for generations, and I like it too, it’s got to be a pretty good bet.”

For Warner, now 68, folk music was the family business. His parents were American folklorists Frank and Anne Warner. Frank collected the song “Hang down your head Tom Dooley” from an Appalachian dulcimer maker who had learned it from his great Aunt – who actually knew both the unfortunate Dooley and the woman he was said to have murdered. In 1958, The Kingston Trio recorded “Tom Dooley” and the rest is popular music history.

“My parents were collecting songs from the last generation of people before electrification, before radio. Many of them were born, died and lived their entire lives within a few miles of home. The songs are the best window we have into their world. My job is to make history as interesting as it really was.”

Jeff Warner, “bringing the latest news from the distant past” to the Roxy, Thursday October 13 at 7:30. Tickets $15. Reserve by email to, or phone 250-247-7476.