Jeff Warner is among the nation’s foremost performers/interpreters of traditional music. His songs from the lumber camps, fishing villages and mountaintops of America connect 21st-century audiences with the everyday lives – and artistry – of 19th-century Americans. “Providing more than just rich entertainment, Jeff will leave you with a deeper appreciation of the land you live in” (Caffé Lena, Saratoga, NY). His songs, rich in local history and a sense of place, bring us the latest news from the distant past.
In explaining his work, Warner points out that he is not a traditional singer in the academic sense. A traditional singer is one who has acquired the traditions, either through ethnicity or family ties. Warner prefers to refer to himself as a singer of traditional songs. He takes an historical approach to the music and has become known as a “folklorist/historian and community scholar.” In describing his work, he says: “I teach American history and culture through traditional song.” He borrows a phrase from historian David McCullough, who said, “my mission is to make history as interesting as it really was.” For Warner, old songs are like archaeological objects which teach a lot about history, “…they’re living historical artifacts that serve as evidence about the people who used them and the times they lived in.”
Jeff has performed widely, from large festivals in the UK, to clubs, festivals and schools across America. He plays concertina, banjo, guitar and several “pocket” instruments, including bones and spoons. And “he inhabits a song in a way which few singers can do” (Royal Oak Folk Club, Lewes, UK).
A native of New York City, Jeff has lived in Portsmouth, NH, since the late 1990s. He is a speaker for New Hampshire Humanities, an artist for the New Hampshire Council on the Arts, and a former State Arts Council Fellow. He has toured nationally for the Smithsonian Institution, taught at Pinewoods, Ashokan, Augusta and Swannanoa summer music programs and recorded for Flying Fish/Rounder, WildGoose (UK) and other labels. His 1995 recording, Two Little Boys received a Parents’ Choice Award.