Master of American folksongs, Jack Warshaw’s career spans 50 years. A soloist and band member, he has shared stages with Bob Dylan, the Mamas and the Papas, Jose Feliciano, worked with Peggy Seeger, Ewan MacColl, Leon Rosselson, Sandra Kerr and many others.
A direct descendent of the “America singing to itself” tradition, Jack Warshaw weaves a vibrant tapestry of folksong, ballad, blues and original song to knock your socks off. He leaves you with ringing melodies, poetic lyrics and powerful imagery that will play in your mind long afterwards.
Warshaw’s command of style, repertoire and accompaniment owes much to the Seeger family, especially Peggy, traditional artists like Mississippi John Hurt and the Carter Family. He’s gritty, ironic, sometimes sexually charged, original and dangerous. Half a century of performing and intense living has left its mark. His songs are their own, whether, self-penned or traditional. They are accompanied on guitars, banjo, 12 string, autoharp and dulcimer. All acoustic of course.
Few music challenges and experiences equal that of the sole artist. Creating intimacy, drawing from the wellspring of all true song. Reaching deep into emotion. A room of individuals, at one with the singer. When, this essentially American material demands, the sounds of harmony are created by the audience singing along, emerging as nothing less than the ring of authenticity. Unpolished gems, the way they were meant to be sung and heard.
The repertoire is truly astounding. Definitely not easy. You feel elated, troubled, uncomfortable, angry, aroused, nostalgic, homesick.
From album notes to “Good Road”
what is a folk song?
What does authenticity mean in the 21st century? One critic says most singer/songwriter products are indistinguishable from pop. We are urged to avoid slavish copies of styles and techniques collected by folklorists yet respect them. Should we avoid anything not strictly acoustic? Condemn anything ‘commercial?’ Is it possible to write an “authentic” new folksong? What is authenticity? Do digital recording, the internet and globalism justify threatening the diversity of countless ethnic musical cultures created over hundreds of years with extinction?
Moe Asch, the visionary behind mid 20th century Folkways Records wrestled with this issue, but never really defined it. He would just listen and decide for himself whether a performance was ‘authentic.’ Acceptable examples ranged from tribal dance music, through Harry Smith’s Anthology of American rural music, to Guthrie, Seeger, the Ramblers, Dave Van Ronk, etc. whose living was singing and sometimes writing “folksongs.” Aunt Molly Jackson defined it as "…a song of the people, which is the only kind of a song that is a folksong, it's what the folks composes out of their really lives, out of their sorrows and out of their happiness and all..."
Have we moved on since then? We still have to listen and decide for ourselves, if it matters. Sometimes we tinker with old songs to complete or intensify them, without losing authenticity when we re-interpret the legacy of the old song carriers and good interpreters. It respects them and it’s great music. It works when I write too. You don’t have to agree, just enjoy it. –Jack
"Jack Warshaw's 'No Time For Love' is one of the best protest songs of the last 30 years, a powerfully in depth look at how the forces of law and order work."
-John O'Regan, Rock 'n' Reel 22
"Anybody who likes [Guthrie’s] ‘Deportees’ should look out for Jack Warshaw's 'Grape Pickers Tragedy…" – Jim Carroll
"This wonderful song (No Time for Love) by Jack Warshaw will be included in Volume Two (of the Celtic Song Book)." Christy Moore and Moving Hearts brought it to a wider audience.
"A great song, thanks Jack for writing it."
- Christy Moore
"The songs featured are by some of our greatest topical songwriters including Leon Rosselson, Si Kahn, John Pole, Robb Johnson, Jack Warshaw, Fred Small and others."
- Roy Bailey - What you do with what you’ve got.
"I have many influences, the main ones would include Woody Guthrie, Jim Page, Jackson Browne, Christy Moore, Jack Warshaw and Dick Gaughan."
- Pól Mac Adaim
"Jack Warshaw’s Chile Song (We Will Fight) was one of the best known ANC songs during the South African struggle."
- Barry Gilder, former SA Director of Intelligence
"It (No time for Love) blows me away every time I hear it."
- Dale, Scotland
"Awesome!" (San Jose Mine)
- Youtube comment
"I honestly have trouble listening to it (Vanzetti’s Letter) without a tear."
- Youtube comment
"…Bobby Dylan, his early songs are some of the best anthems of their kind. And "No Time for Love" by Jack Warshaw (aka If They Come in the Morning) has been called one of the best political songs ever written." - Guest Llantern