From Nassau Street to United Bakers, a new family folk album waxes nostalgic about old Jewish Toronto

From left: Eric Warner, Erin Warner and Jason Craig debut their new concept album, "A Song for Ira", at the Miles Nadal JCC in downtown Toronto on Family Day 2024. (Photo courtesy of Eric Warner)

Eric and Erin Warner’s grandfather lived to the admirable age of 103. And in that time, he saw Toronto change in innumerable ways, from the migration of Jews out of the Ward and Kensington Market to mass communication shifting from the radio to the internet. It’s a life’s story that Eric, who’s worked in music promotion and production since he was a teenager, wanted to tap into—in part to help his own young children understand where their family came from.

He roped in his sister, Erin, to sing on the album, and his longtime friend Jason Craig to help write the songs. The result is a concept album, A Song for Ira, released in February 2024, which debuted with a live show at the Miles Nadal JCC on Family Day. The concept is that two grandparents, Harold and Ruth, are gifted songwriting classes, which they use to write eight folksy tracks about growing up in a bygone Jewish Toronto. Writing about mid-20th century family vacations and longstanding Jewish institutions, the album paints a picture of the past for the benefit of the future.

On this week’s episode of Culturally Jewish, The CJN’s arts podcast, listen to a few tracks from the album and hear the Warner siblings and Jason Craig explain their songwriting process and why they believe writing music is an ideal way to speak to younger audiences.

Credits

Culturally Jewish is hosted by Ilana Zackon and David Sklar. Our producer is Michael Fraiman, and our theme music is by Sarah Segal-Lazar. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To support The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt, please consider a monthly donation by clicking here.