Stephen Harper: The Musical
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Stephen Harper: The Musical

Guelph, Ontario, Canada | INDIE

Guelph, Ontario, Canada | INDIE
Band Jazz Cabaret


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"Nine Green Bottles Review"

From April Exclaim Magazine
James Gordon & Sons
Nine Green Bottles
By Jason Schneider

This first collaboration between Canadian folk legend Gordon and sons Evan (a one-time member of the Constantines) and Geordie (of the Barmitzvah Brothers) is not so much a collision of generations as it is a melding of shared CanRock values. With James contributing the bulk of the songwriting, injected with plenty of expected social commentary, the young ’uns handle all the music, giving the album a quaintly ragged feel. But the presence of unusual rhythms, wheezing horn sections and a variety of other thrift store instruments actually complements the messages behind songs such as “Levee’s Broken” and “Another Silver Maple Comes Down.” It’s the kind of sound that most “traditional” Canadian folkies would cringe at but the brilliance of Nine Green Bottles rests in Evan and Geordie’s pure expressionism with every instrument they utilise. Over the past two decades it’s been easy to take songwriters like James Gordon for granted as folk music has been streamlined. But when his storytelling can take root within a fertile musical soil of the sort that his sons have laid down here, it’s impossible not to marvel at the many artistic threads being sewn together to create the rich tapestry that Nine Green Bottles ultimately is. (Borealis) - Exclaim Magazine.. Kitchener ON

"Toronto Star CD Review"

these new songs speak of a life richly experienced, a gritty kind of musical journalism and an imagination hard at work.
Greg Quill - Toronto Star

"Bill Hahn Review"

the brilliant new arrival this week---sort of like announcing a baby--is the the wonderful work of James Gordon and his sons. James, it may be recalled, was my guest on TRADITIONS a while back and has had (better--is having ) a wonderfully varied career. He once did weekly topical material for CBC (Canadian equivalent to NPR).
An inhabitant of Guelph, Canada, James tours, does workshops, and school programs.
Over 40 recordings under his, still slim, belt the latest one with his sons--NINE GREEN BOTTLES--has got to be one of his best. The musicianship of all of them falls into the category of great collaboration. That said, the pieces on it are topical, meaningful and touching. Pieces such as Another Silver Maple Comes Down, Levee's Broken, and others really hit a topical mark wonderfully in the best musical sense. Then there are songs like Inukshuk and Manitoulin that invoke James Gordon's (and sons) wonderful feelings of place and time. To me the topical centerpiece is the topical anthem---CASEY SHEEHAN DIDN'T DIE FOR NOTHING.
Let no one wonder where are the protest and political singers this day. They are here in the person of people like James Gordon and Sons. - WDFU RADIO , NY City

"Nine Green Bottles Review"

Robert Reid- Nightlife Magazine, Kitchener ON
James Gordon has enjoyed considerable success as a singer/songwriter, first as a founding member and driving force behind the folk trio Tamarack, then as a resident songwriter for CBC radio and solo artist.
But Nine Green Bottles is undoubtedly his most satisfying album in a career spanning more than 25 years because he made it with his sons Evan and Geordie.
Few writers combine a social conscience, profound sense of the country and lyrical storytelling more effectively than Gordon. And the album continues what we’ve come to expect from the veteran Guelph-based artist.
Although the lion’s share of songwriting is handled by Gordon, the album is very much a family affair with Evan producing and co-writing one song with his father and Geordie kicking in with a couple. Like their father, the James boys are multi-instrumentalists and they add a little alt-rock oomph to their father’s folk sensibilities.
Father and sons will most certainly go their separate musical ways, but on the strength of Nine Green Bottles you can bet they’ll be re-assembling for the occassional recording project.
May 3
- Nightlife - Kitchener

"Sing Out Magazine Review"

'a lovely melding of genres, in which James' sturdy imagery and tradition-based melodies are energized by the boys imaginative accompaniment.'
'although each of his almost forty albums is cause for celebration, it is gratifying to see that, with NINE GREEN BOTTLES, James has found something very new to present to his fans.'

- Sing Out

"James Gordon and Sons At Hillside Festival"

ames Gordon and Sons at the Hillside Festival- July 06

Joking about taking one last stab at earning street credibility,
folk singer James Gordon stole his sons' rock band for this special set. Evan Gordon ( ex-Constantines, ex-Royal City ), Geordie Gordon, ( Salt Lick Kids, Barmitzvah Brothers ) and the rest of the Sad Clowns utilised their experimental classic rock sound to juice up the elder Gordon's socially conscious songs.
The outspoken activist was charged up by his boys' punk energy, while the young Gordons in turn made nods to such mutual inspirations as The Band on the new "Inukshuk". A magical performance for locals, James Gordon and sons brought it home.
Reviewed in EXCLAIM magazine by Vish Khanna - Exclaim

"James Gordon a rare species!"

Review of Nine Green Bottles- from the Red Deer ( Alberta) Advocate.... June 15th, 07
by Donald Teplyske

James Gordon, founding member of Tamarack, is that rarest of species, the self-sustaining Canadian playwright and hardscrabble folk-singer!
...he performs natural folk music with stories of common people and noteworthy events.
Gordon’s 2004 album, Endomusia, is hailed ( by me ) as a Canadian folk classic, and as a pure folk singer, few can touch him.
Gordon writes songs- such as “Casey Sheehan Didn’t Die For Nothing”- about people who represent more than they ever imagined, and about events- Hurricane Katrina ( Levee’s Broken) with broad strokes that clarify understanding.
“Shkendemowin”- an Ojibway word for “hurting heart”, identifies the sense of helplessness many have experienced living in Northern communities, and both “The Moon Looks Like It’s Crying” and “Since This Is Just A Song” point to the futility of individual ideals without sustained commitment.
Not to be outdone by old dad, Geordie Gordon has a haunting ballad of dashed dreams in the title cut, and Evan Gordon contributes a dizzying array of stringed, percussion, and keyboard-based instrumentation that is closer to traditional rock than most might expect.

- Red Deer ( Alberta) advocate

"The Gordon Boys' Studio"

by Vish Khanna

Of all the recording facilities hiding in residential houses in Guelph, Ontario, none is as much of a home as Pipe Street Studio. Fostered by folk artist James Gordon, Pipe Street is now a full-on family business, as his two young sons, Evan and Geordie, have translated their passion for making music into working together as a dynamic production duo. Raised on a steady diet of folk and rock’n’roll, with a recording studio for a playground, the Gordon boys’ self-taught ingenuity on multiple instruments is matched by their daring to try any idea that pops into their heads, both in the studio with customers, and on-stage in bands like the Barmitzvah Brothers and the Sad Clowns. And while it might not be readily apparent, their gung-ho outlook really stems from their old man.

When James Gordon first explored music engineering, he did so out of necessity, teaching himself to record his own songs to avoid expensive studios. As he collected more recording gear, other musicians took note and Gordon had a busy home studio on his hands.

“I’ve produced a lot of albums now but I still don’t really think of myself as an engineer more than a guy with ears for certain kinds of music,” he explains. “I’m in the same business as the customers that come here, so I understand what they’re trying to get and I have enough of a grasp of the technology that I can get it for them.” After he and his wife moved their family to a corner house on Pipe Street ten years ago, Gordon still viewed studio work as a secondary pursuit to his own career, as an established, touring singer-songwriter. The converted coach house on his property became a favourite locale for folk artists though, and he understands why.

“There’s something about this building,” he says, sitting in the control room. “There’s something that’s very organic about it; it’s just this space that people seem to feel comfortable in.”

Pipe Street was certainly inviting enough for Evan and Geordie Gordon who, at 25 and 20 years old respectively, are two of the weirdest, most extraordinary young men in Guelph. With little prodding from his father, a five-year-old Evan performed at one of the earliest Hillside Festivals, assembling a tin can drum kit and accompanying his dad. His younger brother Geordie insisted on violin lessons at six years old, after observing one of his father’s productions of a story by children’s author Robert Munsch.

While he influenced his boys’ musical interests, James was sensitive about cramping their style. Even if your dad is a guitar-slinging road warrior, no kid’s ever going to think he’s a cool guy, right? “It was borderline when I was at a certain age and hanging out with all these metal dudes,” Evan recalls. “I wasn’t really swayed by that because all of my friends thought it was totally cool that there was a recording studio in the house. So I always felt pretty proud and that, for sure, my dad was cool.”

“Maybe sometimes we wouldn’t give our friends his record but we were happy to have a musician father,” Geordie agrees.

With free reign to explore a vast array of instruments, the boys moved onto figuring out how to make records. It was Evan who found the process particularly fascinating.

“My dad had the first phase of the home studio and, when everyone else was four-tracking, I was on the next level,” he recalls. “Before long, I was teaching my dad how to use things he was buying when I was 12 or 13. Producing came from making my own tracks after thinking and talking a lot about music. When someone comes in the studio, it’s sort of the same process.”

Pipe Street is essentially computer-based now, recording with both Nuendo and Logic software. The two main rooms are small but the Gordons make them work well for solo artists and larger bands. Aside from tracking, Geordie maintains lots of used, vintage amps and instruments (discoveries made during a part-time job at unusual indie venue/retailer, the Family Thrift Store). “I’m more of the bossy producer; I try to get these big ideas and jump in on it,” Geordie says excitedly. “We both are like, ‘Who wants to play that part we just thought of?’”

“We’ve started working together in that sense and it’s more than producing,” adds Evan. “It’s like orchestrating and we get carried away.” Besides two generations of expertise, there’s a definite sense of play mingling within the pride of honest craftsmen at Pipe Street.

“I think it’s more the personnel than the facility,” Evan concludes. “My dad works with a lot of folk artists and he knows how to direct them with their playing and is used to engineering those things. I have my style too and I think that’s what we have to offer — us.”
- Exclaim Magazine.. Kitchener ON

"James Gordon and his Sons"

James Gordon and his sons

Nine Green Bottles is the first recorded collaboration between James Gordon and sons Evan and Geordie.

(Mar 8, 2007)

It was only a month ago that Guelph folk legend James Gordon was promoting the latest production of his "folk opera" Hardscrabble Road, but on the heels of that is a new project that is just as significant and personal in its own way.

Nine Green Bottles marks the first recorded collaboration between Gordon and his sons Evan and Geordie, both prominent figures in the Guelph music scene themselves. Evan, who has played with The Constantines and currently fronts The Sad Clowns, and Geordie, a member of The Barmitzvah Brothers and The Salt Lick Kids, grew up playing music with their father, and both say that he felt it was time they tried doing something together in the studio.

"He approached us with the idea of just playing on some songs, but then we kind of hijacked the project and decided to put on all kinds of instruments," says the elder Evan. "He would keep writing songs and laying down his acoustic guitar and vocals, and then every day my brother and I would come into the studio and just go wild with them. We'd played on his albums before, but for this he pretty much put us in total control, and we saw it as an opportunity to maybe get his music out to more people in our scene."

Nine Green Bottles will probably raise some eyebrows of folk traditionalists who have followed James Gordon since his days in Tamarack, but overall the sound isn't that far removed from the honest roots-rock of The Band and their descendents. "We obviously admire our dad's work a lot, but some of his records we like better than others," Geordie says. "We got a band together to back him up for a show at the River Run Centre last year, and I think from that point on we got in our heads the kind of album we wanted our dad to make. But we had to do it our way; we made a rule that there wouldn't be anyone else on the record but the three of us."

Evan admits the idea initially didn't go over that well. "He wasn't crazy about some things we wanted to do, but we kept saying, 'No, trust us,' and in the end I think we got some pretty cool stuff."

Geordie adds, "After he finished all his tracks, he had to go away, so for a long time Evan and I were just working by ourselves. Not having him around made it a bit easier for us to experiment with different rhythms that he never would have thought of using. What was also interesting was the fact that my brother and I had never really seriously collaborated before either, so this whole project has led to a stronger connection not just between us and our dad, but between the two of us as well."

After the two upcoming launch parties in Guelph and Toronto that will feature the full Sad Clowns lineup as the backing band, Gordon and Sons will be heading to the Maritimes as a trio. Although most of these shows will be in the heart of Gordon's fan base, Geordie is hoping it will be the start of curious younger ears checking out his father's music.

"I think Evan and I are just starting to recognize how well our dad has always been able to take a political stance in his songs, and how important that is. This album certainly displays that well, and I think it's something that more and more young people can relate to, especially with what we tried to do in freshening up the music. I hope it will help some people discover what a great songwriter he is." - Nightlife - Kitchener

"Penguin Eggs Review"

James Gordon and Sons?Nine Green Bottles?Borealis Records ??I’ve written about James Gordon before and have admired his work for a long time, from his days in Tamarack to his stint on CBC’s Basic Black as songwriter-in-residence for five years. If he never wrote another song, his body of work would stand as one of the best creative outputs of any Canadian songwriter.?But there’s no stopping him. Especially since the family firm, James Gordon and Sons, is not a greengrocer’s stall but a going musical concern. Nine Green Bottles is their first outing together. James gathers his sons, Evan and Geordie (both with indie rock projects of their own), to aid and abet his songs in a youthful and energetic manner. As always from James, there are a couple of gems. Beautifully Canadian in its images, Inukshuk is a song about being lost in the city and contains the wonderful lines: “Frobisher and Franklin, when they sailed out to explore at least they knew what they were looking for” And as in every James Gordon collection, there are also a couple of great songs about the ever-changing times of small-town Ontario: Another Silver Maple Comes Down and The Moon Looks Like It’s Crying.?James, your sons have done you proud with their help on this lovely record. ?– by Les Siemieniuk - Penguin Eggs


Still working on that hot first release.



The historic Trent-Severn Waterway is a beautiful 386 km long series of rivers, canals, lakes, and locks running through Central Ontario connecting Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay. It’s been my summer home for a number of years now; at Big Chute on the Severn I keep “The Eramosa Belle”, a home-made eco-friendly houseboat with solar power and a stage on top! I’ve been collecting stories and memories of this great water system, and this project is a dream come true for me. 13 songs written on the river, ABOUT the river, and designed to be performed along the waterway with a series of ongoing summer concerts.
If you know my music, you'll know I'm obsessed with rivers. They run through many of my songs and I've got 1000 of those!
In the summer and fall of 2010 and 2011 I'll be touring the waterway with my riverboat stage- performing the songs from this album and telling tales of the river's fascinating history.

I've been touring around the world as a solo artist or with the folk trio Tamarack for over 30 years. for about a dozen of those years I was a songwriter-in-residence for CBC radio, and my songs have been recorded by over 100 artists all over the world. With Tamarack I did television specials about the Rideau and Grand Rivers, and was commissioned by the Canadian Heritage River Society to produce "The Song The River Sings"-- about 12 of Canada's Heritage Rivers. I was also a contributor to "Canoe Songs Vol 1 and 2", - a fundraiser for the Peterborough Canoe Museum.
Here are the songs:
1. Whistlewing- about a beautiful 19th century steamer that plied the eastern section of the Trent-Severn Waterway. Reading about her gave me pause to think about how the river has been altered over the years by human intervention.

2. This Canoe Runs on Water- The Canoe in my view is the most perfect, eloquent form of human transportation ever created. Many of the finest were built along the Trent-Severn in Peterborough

3. The Maritime Excursion of the Mariposa Belle- based on a story by Orillia’s Stephen Leacock, this tells the tale of an excursion from Orillia through the famously shallow Lake Couchiching

4. The Uneeda Rest- This old hotel still exists along the shores of Sparrow Lake, and this story would have been a common one in its heyday

5. The Song The River Sings/Ojibway Water Song- “The Narrows” between Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching has been a gathering place for our first nations peoples for centuries. We have a lot to learn from the stewardship and honouring of the river that they have always shown

6. Nobody’s Rushin’ in Russian Bay- Russian Bay is near the Swift Rapids Locks on the Severn, an idylic spot in the summer; a place to lose the tensions of the city

7. They Don't Call it Pretty Channel for Nothing.- Near Big Chute on the Severn, this is a favourite anchoring spot for our little houseboat “The Eramosa Belle”

8. Does It Come With The Blonde On THe Bow?- Tell me if you’ve noticed this boating phenomena along the waterway!

9. Slow Down! - Sometimes boaters forget that they are not in rush hour traffic anymore!

10. Little Go Home Bay- A Lower Severn Song about a lovely stretch of water that always feels like home

11. Catherine And Susannah- about Canada's famous writing sisters Catherine Parr Traill and Susannah Moodie.. pioneer neighbours along the waterway near Lakefield

12. River Country- about the section of the Trent river that ends in Lake Ontario

13. You Can’t Put A River In A Box--- well, engineers keep trying!