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Jacqueline Patten of Whats Afoot

reviews Long Time Travelling by Jeff Warner

Steeped in the traditional music of America since birth, Jeff Warner is a fine exponent of, and evangelist for, American traditional music, as well as an excellent musician and performer. His parents were Frank and Anne Warner who collected and performed songs in the USA in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. He recalls that his Father "had me up on the stage with him, singing The Old Chisholm Trail, when I was eight". Half of the eighteen tracks come from his parents' collection; some come from the collection of Cecil Sharp, some from that of Alan Lomax and the remainder from various diverse sources.

A country and nation comprising so many immigrants inevitably draws on all the countries from which people emigrated and the traditions they brought, to create its own. The American blend is strident, harsh and bold, yet remarkably varied and enthralling. It is interesting to see some of the British and Irish influences among the songs on this album. Some are clearly evident, such as Young but Daily Growing, others more obscure, for example the connection between Wild Hog in the Woods and Sir Lionel. Jeff credits Juberju as the source for Sailing Over The Dogger Bank, which shows how some have crossed the Atlantic in the opposite direction to expected. A few items are what might considered old time bluegrass and there are some hymns from semi secular sources, a tradition that never developed fully on this side of the ocean. Inevitably some songs like Been All Around This Whole Round World have their roots in the black community, in this particular case from the Ohio River.

Jeff accompanies himself on banjo, guitar, English concertina, jew's harp and percussion, and is ably assisted by eight musicians and singers, who between them play tambourine, piano, anglo concertina, mandolin, fiddle, nyckelharpa and flute as well as backing vocals. Consequently the arrangements are rich, varied and compelling.

The `sleeve notes' and cover include archive photographs from Jeff's parents: if you ever get a chance to hear him talk about his parents' collecting when he would also show some photographs taken by them, then take it. The songs and images are amazing.