My Dad, the Outlaw

Gabriola Islander Bob Bossin brings his one-man musical Davy the Punk to The Old Fire Hall next Thursday, Sept. 22 and to Dawson City the following week.

The show is based on Bossin’s 2014 book of the same title. They tell the story of his father’s life in Canada’s gambling underworld of the 1930s.

Both the book and the show have received glowing reviews across the country.

CBC’s Michael Enright called Davy the Punk “fascinating… amazing and sometimes hilarious.”

“Our audiences loved it,” writes the artistic producer of Western Edge Theatre. “Davy the Punk is a triple crown of music, wry comedy, and affecting family reunion. The songs are thoroughbred Bossin, the story is beguiling, and the reunion – between Bob and the father he knew as a soft-spoken booking agent – is something to cheer about.”

The Whitehorse performance is a fundraiser for Yukon Cares, the group who brought a Syrian refugee family to the city in January. They hope to bring another next year.

Davy Bossin was born in 1905 to a poor Jewish immigrant family living in Toronto’s notorious slum called The Ward. Like many thousand others, they had sailed to Canada to escape the poverty, discrimination and state-sanctioned violence of czarist Russia and other countries. They were not universally welcomed.

As a young man, finding his way blocked by the rampant anti-semitism of the time, Davy blazed his own path in a new, vibrant, international industry: gambling.

Nicknamed Davy the Punk, he matched wits with cops and mobsters, carnival swindlers and dishonest politicians, crooks and judges. His court cases set precedents that affect us to this day.

Older Yukoners may remember Bob Bossin as the founder of the popular Canadian folk group Stringband, who played Faro’s Farrago Folk Festival and toured Canada and much of the world for 15 years.

Bossin is also the author of the song The Casca and the Whitehorse Burned Down, among others that have become part of Canada’s folksong canon.

Pete Seeger praised Bossin’s music as “funny, informative and inspiring at the same time.”

The Making of a Folksinger

Bob Bossin’s musical career started early. In a 1995 interview he said, “Singing was like breathing.”

“I just sang, we all did. My dad used to sing as he walked around the house, and my mom did, too.”

When he was eight years old, rock and roll came to radio, and radio suddenly came alive. He begged his parents for a guitar; doubtful, they bought him only a $20 model.

But in 1959, “when rock and roll was at its nadir,” Bossin says, his interest turned to folk music.

“I heard Tom Dooley. It stopped me in my tracks. This was a song that seemed to be about something. Was it a true story? I was fascinated.”

He went to hear the Kingston Trio when they came to town, then Peter, Paul and Mary, and later, Ian and Sylvia.

Half a century later, he’s still strumming and telling stories in song.

Bob Bossin will be in Whitehorse on Sept. 22 to perform Davy the Punk at 8 p.m. at The Old Fire Hall. On Sept. 25 he will do a reading from his book at Well-Read Books.

Bossin will be in Dawson City on Sept. 27 to do a reading at the Dawson Community Library at 7 p.m. and a performance of Davy the Punk on Sept. 28 at 8 p.m. at the KIAC Ballroom.

A video trailer for the show can be seen at

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