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Jeff and Gerret Warner Will Perform Traditional Music of Area on Nov. 12

by Thomas McGowen

(McGowan is a folklorist in the Department of English at Appalachian State University)

BOONE—Jeff and Gerret Warner, along with Frank Proffit Jr., will perform in a benefit concert Nov. 12 at Appalachian State University. The concert, “Nothing Seems Better to Me,” begins at 7:30 p.m. in Plemmons Student Union’s Blue Ridge Ballroom. This concert is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted to assist the family of the late Tim Proffitt.

The Warners will perform traditional music of Watauga County, particularly from the Proffitt and Hicks family traditions. They also will play and lecture on local music and their parents’ collecting to classes at Appalachian Nov. 12 and 13.

For a listing of their class appearances, see the webpage, or call (828) 262-2323.

The return of Jeff and Garret Warner to Watauga County celebrates lovely connections in local music traditions. Their parents, Anne and Frank Warner, were tireless collectors of folk music and fast and longtime friends of notable musical families in our region. Anne and Frank Warner were especially friends of Frank Proffitt Sr., a singer and player from the Pick Britches Community near Bethel. From him they collected the version of “The Ballad of Tom Dula” that led to the popular Kingston Trio song and has become a kind of anthem of the Folk Song Revival of the 1960s.

In their later collecting, the Warners brought along their sons, who grew up learning music, visiting folk artists, and hobnobbing with celebrated figures of the Folk Song Revival.

Jeff and Gerret caught their parents’ passion for traditional American music, playing a range of instruments and picking up their dad’s old songs and an additional repertory of sea chanties because of their interest in sailing.

They have become executors of their parents’ scholarly and artistic legacies. Both perform, mixing their music with poignant and notable commentary on the songs, earlier singers and their parents’ collecting. Jeff researched and edited for his mother’s book “Traditional American Folk Songs.” Gerret assembled and prepared its photographs, taken by their parents.

The sons organized their parents’ notes, manuscripts and photographs, which now form the Frank and Anne Warner Collection at Duke University.

The brothers also have produced two compact discs from Anne and Frank Warner’s field recordings: “Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still” and “Nothing Seems Better to Me.”