Doug Warner: 'Fading Gracefully'

In Doug Warner's younger days, a white man playing the blues wasn't the most popular idea. Now he says that thinking has gone out the window, and he's free to write his own original blues tunes inspired by some of the greats.

"Blues music is an approach to all music," he says. "Back when I was doing blues as a young guy, everyone — black and white — was saying to us white guys, 'You shouldn't be doing that music.' It was kind of tough back then."

Influenced by Paul Butterfield, Eric Clapton and others, Warner has been singing the blues for 45 years. He moved to the Rogue Valley from Mendocino, Calif., more than six years ago and has been performing locally ever since.

"The truth is, old white guys like me, we love the black culture, we love blues music, and all we wanted to do was learn that music and play that music," he says.

Warner recorded his latest album about five years ago, named after the last track on the CD, "Fading Gracefully," which is a song about how quickly things have changed for Warner's generation.

"For my generation, we see so many things we think of from our youth all fading away, and rather than complain about it, I just wrote a song about it," Warner says. "The cool thing is, I play that song now and everybody my age and older know exactly what I'm talking about, even generations before me. It's a cool song to do."

Warner will perform at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 12, at the Lithia Artisans Market on Calle Guanajuato. His CDs are available for $10 each.

For the Tidings Café, Warner performed an original tune called "Hold On" in his backyard in Medford.

Although 62-year-old Warner plays many songs that his generation can relate to, he still attempts to reach younger audiences — mostly through his lyrics.

"In the song, 'Hold On,' the lyrics are meant to make you wonder. It's not saying anything in particular; hopefully it resonates with something, and that's what I see young people doing with rap music and music that's sprung up in the last 15 years. It's all about the lyrics," he says.

He contends that the songs of his generation are written by some of the greatest lyricists around.

"You don't get any better lyricists than Tom Waits or Bob Dylan, and they don't have a particular point that they're trying to make," he says. "They know how to turn the English language and make you feel a certain way."

Warner wants to connect with young people through the blues form. He also wants people of all ages to enjoy his music.

"I think what I'm doing cuts across age, because I'm not playing to any one age at all, and I don't particularly want to be a pop star, so I'm not playing to youth," says Warner. "It's 15-year-olds throwing money in the tip jar. I'm not just playing old blues shuffles for old farts."

Also an actor and director, Warner was the producing director of Camelot Theatre before cofounding Next Stage Repertory Theatre at Medford's Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater in 2011.

"I'm the artistic director of the company. I got it designed so I can really pursue music as well, freelance," he says. "So I'm playing around Oregon and blues festivals and that kind of thing. I'm able to do both now, it's kind of cool."

Most recently Warner performed at the Beacon Hill Blues Festival in June in Ashland. He prefers to play gigs during the day so he can be home by dark, which is one of the reasons he enjoys playing the Lithia Artisans Market so much.

"I try not to play in bars as much as I can. My music is handcrafted original blues music," he says. "They're all artists (the market vendors) and they really appreciate the music, and the tourists who come through the market identify the music as unique."

Mandy Valencia is a reporter for the Mail Tribune. Reach her at

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