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Geoff Berner

Klezmer singer-songwriter, accordion player

Song – "Wealthy Poet" - Now playing...

Vancouver singer-songwriter-accordion player Geoff Berner once described his intent as follows: “I want to make original klezmer music that’s drunk, dirty, political and passionate.”

After extensive international touring, festival appearances, airplay on national radio, and opening slots with artists such as Billy Bragg, Corb Lund and The Be Good Tanyas (who covered his song "Light Enough to Travel"), he's garnered critical acclaim and a sizable cult following – especially in Canada, England and Scandinavia – for his sharp songwriting, cabaret performance style, and consistent approach – klezmer informed with the energy and passion of punk.

The klezmer-punk sound was bolstered by a research trip in 2004 to rural Romania, from which he returned with a deeper understanding of the music. Now, Berner's openness to experimentation, spirited Eastern European influences, punk rock attitude and work with producer/mastermind Josh Dolgin (Socalled) have resulted his innovative, engaging, lively and surprise-filled seventh recording, Victory Party.

Producer Dolgin was crucial to the process. Better known as Socalled, Dolgin is an acknowledged genius of modern Jewish music. He's famous for his own albums, which fuse hip-hop and klezmer. A feature film about him, The Socalled Movie, was released internationally in 2010 by the National Film Board.

“I had to swallow a great deal of anxiety to be able to hand the reigns of production over to someone else," says Berner. "And if anything, he exceeded my expectations. He had a new idea for making a song better every three to five minutes."

Berner’s live shows tend to devolve into crazed, chaotic, drunken dancing and psychotic laughter. His audience are composed largely of odd, bookish people who like to drink; they come out to pack the bars where he's playing in Berlin, Amsterdam, Oslo and Zurich, as well as in Canada.


Victory Party (2011)
Klezmer Mongrels (2009)
The Wedding Dance of the Widow Bride (2007)
Whiskey Rabbi (2005)
Live in Oslo (2004)
We Shall Not Flag or Fail We Shall Go On To The End (2002)
Light Enough to Travel (2001)

SOCAN Connection
Member since 2003