Traditionalist folk maestro Warner a brilliant opening for city concert series

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Jeff Warner sings a tune while using a limberjack, or jig doll, to dance to the number. (Lebanon Voice photos)

ROCHESTER - Neither the roar of motorcycles nor clatter of box trucks could diminish the delightful tunes of traditionalist music performer Jeff Warner as Rochester's Music on the Square Concert Series kicked off on Friday.

Warner, who is both a student and versatile performer of traditional American folk music from the 1800s, was introduced to the study of rural folk tunes while traveling with his parents as they sought to document and keep alive the music passed down orally from generation to generation.

"My parents in the 1930s and 40s tried to find these rural people that played these wonderful songs," Warner said Friday while taking a break during his two-hour concert.

Jeff Warner plays a concertina during one of his songs on Friday.

Warner spoke of one elderly Jaffrey woman his parents interviewed in the 1940s who sang 100 songs in one sitting from memory.

"My parents (Frank and Anne Warner) put it on an old disc maker," he said. "I never met her, but I went to her granddaughter's 90th birthday party in Temple, and since the 1980s I've been on the road."

Now Warner does lectures for the New Hampshire Humanities, plays a lot of schools, visits the United Kingdom for a couple of months a year where folk music festivals are in vogue and coordinates the annual Portsmouth Maritime Folk Festival held the last weekend of September.

On Friday as concertgoers watched from chairs or lounged on blankets with their dog, Warner's clear tenor voice resonated classic rural folk music from New England, the mid-Atlantic states and the South, with tunes like "Frog He Went a-Courtin,' as well as maritime shanties like, "Ring the Bell."

A crowd of about 25 showed up to watch Friday's concert held in Parson Main Square.

While performing he played a variety of instruments, including guitar, five-string banjo, concertina, which is a smaller version of an accordion, as well as pocket instruments like the bones, spoons and Jew's harp.

He also wowed the crowd with his wooden limberjack, also called a jig doll, which has loose limbs that step dance on a vibrating board in imitation of a real step dancer.

To learn more about Warner click here.

To see a jig doll video click here.

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