James Gordon
Gig Seeker Pro

James Gordon

Guelph, Ontario, Canada | INDIE | AFM

Guelph, Ontario, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Solo Folk Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"My Stars Your Eyes- Sing Out Magazine"

James Gordon delivers another dozen hew songs like an arrangement of mixed bright blossoms from a particularly fine florist. This album is once again a family project, produced and engineered with his son Evan, and accompanied by sons Evan and Geordie on a variety of instruments, with occasional harmonies from Katherine Wheatley and Jude Vadala, and fiddle from Sandra Swannell (most recently with Tanglefoot). The beauty of a Gordon bouquet is that he mixes up a wide variety of subjects and sounds. The production varies from solo voice and guitar to a full but not overwhelming pop groove. He goes from the heartbreaking “Virtue Jane,” about an orphan who dies after becoming a prostitute at a very young age, to the rollicking true story “The Great Duncan Heist,” about a pair of street punks who ripped off his CDs during a show and ended up liking them. I’ll save the boffo punch line for when you listen to the CD, but it is a joy to have a self-effacing songwriter with a great sense of humor, always one of Gordon’s trademarks. He keeps up with social commentary with “Kelvinator,” using the refrigerator as a symbol for the negative changes in our society. Similarly, “Whistlewing” comments on pollution and destruction of the environment. Gordon has also penned som fine lovely songs, most with water or celestial imagery. He’s been at this for many years, yet this CD sounds fresh, and most importantly, entertaining.

- Rich Warren
- Sing out-Rich Warren

"Greg Quill"

"A wonderfully rich, varied set, the work of a confident artist with important things on his mind" - Toronto Star

"Les Siemieniuk"

"A remarkable Canadian Performer. His body of work is truly original"
What else really needs to be said—songwriters don’t making a living in music over 30 years if they’re not good at it. James is the quintessential Canadian singer-songwriter. He sings of life, of Canada and the land, and he’s done most of the heavy lifting along the way himself, playing a myriad of instruments including banjo, recorder, harmonica, trumpet, accordion and guitar. ??One good thing about longevity: after 30 years he has also produced two sons, Evan and Geordie, who now help quite ably in the rhythm section. ??As with every other album, there’s a few gems on this one, along with just plain good ones. I love the song Kelvinator, which tells a tale of the modern world being the way it is through his grandpa’s purchase of a refrigerator from Eaton’s. And every musician should take note of the The Great Duncan Heist to protect themselves. ??James Gordon should be a household name in this country. If you’ve never sampled his wares, My Stars Your Eyes is as good a place to start as any.?
- Penguin Eggs

"Sing Out Magazine"

Rootsy sound, strong songs, with a poet's eye for telling details and a picket-line singer's passion - Sing Out

"Robert Reid"

As enduring a handful of songs as has ever been written in this country - The Record

"My Stars Your Eyes... 4 Star Rating"

My Stars Your Eyes - 4 star rating-
Some writers seem to have a limited number of songs in them, burning bright early in their careers and subsequently living off their back catalogue whilst releasing increasingly pointless albums every couple of years. And then there’s James Gordon. Thirty years - and even more albums- along the line, this fine Canadian songwriter is still on a roll.
The dozen rootsy, country-tinged tracks on this disc are the work of a mature, astute observer of the human heart in all its conditions. Yes, half the songs cover the usual relationships territory, but with a freshness that only comes from a writer who’s worked hard to make it seem natural; the shimmeringly delicate “In The Wild Blue Yonder” is a case in point, stretching the metaphor of flight to its perfectly balanced conclusion.
But there are also forays into the heart of conscience, with an impressive trio of environmental songs that have that rare quality in not backing away from issues whilst retaining a core of hope. This is a collection of unhurried personal narratives that anyone can share- songwriting on a conversational scale with universal relevance.
Oz Hardwick
Rock and Reel Magazine - Rock And Reel Magazine... August 2010

"My Favourite Review-- From Germany"

Der Kanadier James Gordon ist so etwas wie die graue Eminenz der kanadischen Songwriter-Szene. Seit Jahren werkelt der Mann vor sich hin, gibt Kurse oder spielt solo bzw. mit dem Folk-Duo Tamarack. In Kanada wird er Mann geradezu verehrt. So coverten die Cowboy Junkies z.B. seinen Song "Mining For Gold". "My Stars, Your Eyes" ist seine gefühlt 50. Scheibe - und klingt auch so. Zusammen mit seinen Söhnen und ein paar Freunden spielte Gordon eine altmodisches Songwriter-Folk-Album ein, das mit der Gelassenheit und der Ruhe eines altersweisen Meisters daherkommt. Zu entdecken, verändern, erfinden oder gar zu beweisen gibt es da nichts. Hier ist jemand zu Gange, der mit sich im Reinen ist und auf der Höhe seiner Kunst zeitlose Songs farbriziert, die von der ersten Sekunde an klingen wie Klassiker. Wer genauer wissen möchte, wie Gordon klingt, der sollte mal an Ralph McTell denken - jedoch nur der Stimmlage wegen. Für Freunde unaufgeregten Songwritings ist das nachhaltig zu empfehlen!

-Ullrich Maurer- - German CD review Magazine

"A Conversation with James Gordon"

A conversation with James Gordon

by Erin Oldynski

My first encounter with James Gordon’s work was seeing his anti globalization musical Hardscrabble Road at the Registry Theatre in January. I was there with The New Quarterly and environmental magazine Alternatives to launch the twinned issues of artist as activist and creative communities.

James has performed at previous events for The New Quarterly and his writing has appeared in two of our issues -- his “Hometown Tunes” piece was published in our summer 1996 issue and his “1001 Canadian Nights” piece about being on the road was part of last year’s comedy issue.

Last month I met with James in Guelph at a really charming vegetarian restaurant/café/venue of sorts, known as the Cornerstone Café. I’d taken the train in from Kitchener with my friend Owen, who is from Guelph and knows James through their shared interest and involvement in the local music communities. My main interest in meeting with James was to talk with him about how he got started on the path of performing -- whether it was with his folk group Tamarack, directing and performing in musicals, or touring solely as James Gordon -- and to what ends he has used this interest to deliver messages about relevant social issues along the way.

The “interview” which was more of a conversation over breakfast, really, lasted a little over an hour and covered a lot. Through the sound of clanking dishes, intermittent visits from the server, and background conversation, I was able to later transcribe the conversation from the digital recorder I’d brought. The following is the full version-- excerpts of it appear in the newsletter Peace Out and on the website foundinthemargins.com

I guess a good place to start is, what were some of your early attempts at activism and what was the outcome- What got you started as an activist?

It’s become impossible for me to separate what I do as a profession, as a writer and a musician, from my so called “activist” career in that when I’m on the road -- because I’m not coming to a community as a tourist, I’m usually welcomed in as a visiting artist- I always feel like I get to see a side of a community that others don’t. I can’t tell you when I started to write songs that were about activist issues because that just comes from observing. I like to make sure that my songs aren’t necessarily about me but are sort of reflecting what I’m observing and what’s around me, and I found that people were anxious to use me, so to speak, as a voice. They would say things like, “Here’s what’s going on in my town,” and “Did you know this? And maybe you should write about that?” And sometimes I would, and the more I did, the more these things started to come to me. It was almost as if I was filling a void. I can’t think of an issue that I thought, “I’m pissed off about this, I better get to work on it.” It came more from other people being pissed off about things -- and maybe I’m the kind of guy that can let people know about it. As soon as I took on that role, I would start to do it myself, saying, “Well, here’s something that people need to know about and maybe I can make a difference.” We artists are very egotistical, really. I mean, we only do this because we think that we can make a difference, right? Otherwise we wouldn’t be bothering. But over the last five years, I’ve been just totally thrilled that I can actually see some of the work that I’ve been doing that does make a difference. And how cool is that?

The second half of my question is, or perhaps to rephrase the first one; why do you think you’ve developed a political conscience? Not everyone is inclined to.

When I started playing music professionally, I’d chosen a style of music [folk] that [reflected] my interest in Canadian heritage and culture. I noticed that there weren’t many people out there doing that and that I was actually singing songs that were two hundred years old, songs about early settlers and miners. I was providing a voice to old dead people. That sort of started me on the path of being a story teller -- I became a story teller myself by writing my own songs. It was a natural leap that I would be drawn to aspects of social justice and political awareness because I started from human stories. I’ve realized that I’d get as bored as I’m sure you would if someone is preaching to me about an issue. No one wants to hear me whine for two hours about why it is that big corporations are ignoring three quarters of society. But if I can say, “Look, this is an actual person,” then you can say as a viewer or a listener, “Hey, maybe that could be me.” And then it becomes more personal. I think I’ve been guided by the artistic principle that you can make a difference as an artist if you can do a combination of the universal and the local. When I’m singing to you and writing stories, you need to know that there’s enough of myself in it- that I’ve invested enough passion and - The New Quarterly

"Master Songwriter in Tune With The Valley"

Master songwriter in tune with the Valley

Somerset students helped James Gordon write a new song.
Master songwriter in tune with the Valley
By Wendy Elliott

A songwriting master spent a week at Somerset District Elementary School last week and James Gordon left the school with a CD full of original music.

He sat down with a Grade 2/3 class and together they picked the subject of toy animals. James had never heard of Webkinz, but that didn’t phase him. Before long the blackboard was full of notions about the toys. Then he began organizing the scribbles into verses.

“It’s a bit like math,” he commented. “I look for the pattern and the magic, too.”

Soon James is picking up his guitar and sketching out a beat. “My ear thinks about rhyme. I hear something that sounds like a melody,” he says after asking the students to sing their own words.

The class sits rapt on the floor of Mary Magee’s music room. They are patently excited and that can provoke squirming.

Three girls at the back of the room, Shyane, Taylor and Mercedes, come up with the tune. James tells them ‘F’ is no ordinary key. The first creation is the chorus. Before long there are three verses to a slightly different tune. Chloe gets to name the toy pet ‘Bud.’

Teacher Beth Hamilton-Martin is soon writing down the words, while James has the class singing into his laptop computer. Then they have a practice CD for the concerts scheduled for last Friday. The girls at the back tell me James is a nice singer and guitar player. “He sounds like Nickleback,” says one thoughtfully, before singing a little tune.

In one hour James has fabricated an original song with about 25 helpers. He repeats the process he calls 'Rhyme Capsule' with eight other classes at Somerset. To an unmusical observer it is absolutely amazing.

James conducts a Rhyme Capsule each month on average. He spent a week working with First Nations children in Bear River last September and was in Wolfville three years ago. Both programs were set up through Anna Osburn and the Deep Roots Music Festival and she facilitated this time.

The Guelph, Ont. troubadour also goes to countries like Japan and Vietnam where writing songs in English is a language exercise. Next month, he is heading back to Japan.

James is quick to say that the spirit of community and good music making is prevalent at Somerset. Students in this part of Nova Scotia still receive enough musical training in school to “give them a jump ahead” of other provinces, he adds.

Principal Heather Morse says James’ visit has been exciting for her students and as the concerts loomed the feeling grew.


By Wendy Elliott

James' greatest achievement has been the co-production of two new musical forces to be reckoned with: Evan and Geordie Gordon. They haven't exactly been following in their father's footsteps. Both musicians in their early 20s, they are making their own in a big way. Evan has toured with two Juno-nominated indie-rock bands, and his own group is making waves with an acclaimed new CD.

Geordie is best known for his work with the "Salt Lick Kids" and the "Barmitzvah Brothers", who toured Europe this year and are often cited as a 'next big thing.'

Dad James enlisted the help of his two sons to record a collaborative CD. Evan is producer, and plays bass, drums, guitar, ukulele, keyboards and horns. Geordie added violin, cello, keyboards, mandolin, trombone, guitar, drums and bass. They allowed their old man to play guitar, banjo, piano, trumpet, harmonica, mandola, accordion and tin whistle.

The tour van this month is pretty full. The new CD, James says, is mostly his songs. He aims to grow new fans by recording with his sons and “finding we have something in common. How could you ask for anything better than touring with your kids?”

James has had a remarkably diverse 25-year career in the Canadian entertainment business. As a solo singer-songwriter and with the trio Tamarack, he has released over 30 albums, and has toured relentlessly across North America and Great Britain.

He has written for symphony orchestras, dance and theatre works, film scores, written five family musicals as half of "Jim and Dave" and for five years was heard on CBC radio across Canada every week with a new and very silly song for the Basic Black program. His songs have been recorded and performed by such varied acts as The Cowboy Junkies, Melanie Doane, James Keelaghan, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, and several major choirs. His song 'Mining For Gold' appears in the new John Sayles film Silver City, due out later this year, starring Kris Kristofferson, Daryl Hannah and Richard Dreyfus. His song Frobisher Bay was named 'Favourite Canadian roots song' in Shelagh Rogers’ CBC radio contest last year, and it will be mangled by hundreds of contestants this summer as an audition piece for the Canadian Idol tele - Nova News, Nova Scotia

"My Stars Your Eyes Review- March 2010"

James Gordon?Your Stars My Eyes?(Borealis Records)?****?When listening to James Gordon’s My Stars Your Eyes, the only impression you can take away is the intimacy and familiarity of his placid lyrics. The Canadian artist has yet again demonstrated his veteran ability with both sentiment and comicality. Using valiant wit and emotional expression, Gordon’s 12-track lineup is more than just a folk album, equipped with a subtle, but solemn under tone. And with more than 30 records released, this one is an exceptional diary of an artist on the road. His songs range from astronauts in love to dejected accounts of an abandoned girl, “Virtue Jane.” Gordon’s skill of storytelling is suitably validated in this necessary assortment of abiding folk music. As you discover a personal side to the legendary Gordon, you can rely on an honest replication of his matchless experiences in this timeless album. ?Katie Nelson
- SeeMagazine Edmonton

"My Stars Your Eyes Review- March 2010"

James Gordon is a Canadian from Guelph, Ontario (just a half-hour drive from my place). He has written a thousand songs, many while working as writer in residence at CBC Radio. You gotta love a country that employs a songwriter on staff at their national radio station, don'tcha think? The Cowboy Junkies included his "Mining For Gold" on their classic The Trinity Sessions album. Gordon himself has released some three dozen albums of his own (or as a member of Tamarack). My Stars, Your Eyes is his fifth album on Borealis, and it's another collection of 12 of Gordon's most recent compositions, starting with "I've Come Along." I know it's not really fair to make these connections (even if they're helpful), but I can't for the life of me put my finger on who it is James Gordon reminds me of (maybe Tom Paxton). He sings about silent canoes and gentle cicadas. He sings of the Canadian landscape, and if you've never seen it, you'll have to trust me when I say it's worth singing about. His band includes two sons (Evan on bass, guitars, keyboards, and drums, and Geordie on keyboards and drums) and a couple of guests, but really this is James' album. He wrote the songs, sings them, and plays banjo, recorder, harmonica, trumpet, accordion, and guitar. The songs are well constructed, and the lyrics are about things. How to live, with each other and with the world, social causes, and even about the time somebody tried to steal his merch at a gig ("The Great Duncan Heist"). This is solid, listenable contemporary folk music. This guy is a contender. Try him out! ?
David Kidney - Green Man Review.. Portland ME


over 30 albums to date...
"Nastee Business Soundtrack" June '11
"My Stars Your Eyes" Jan. '10
"This Canoe Runs On Water"- June '10
Pipe Street Songbook '09
"THe Highway And I" ( Audio Book )- Fall 07
"Nine Green Bottles" Spring 07
"Hardscrabble Road" 05
"Endomusia" 04
"THe Song The River Sings" 04
"Tune Cooties" 03
"One Timeless Moment" 02
"Mining For Gold" 00
Pipe Street Dreams 99
many more



James Gordon has had a remarkably diverse 30-year career in the Canadian entertainment business. As a solo singer-songwriter and with the ground-breaking trio Tamarack, he has released over thirty-five albums, and has toured relentlessly around the world. Gordon has written for symphony orchestras, musical theatre and dance works, film scores, and for more than ten years was heard on CBC radio as songwriter-in-residence for the ‘Basic Black” and “Ontario Morning” programs. His songs have been recorded and performed by such varied acts as The Cowboy Junkies, Melanie Doane, Al Simmons, James Keelaghan, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, and many major choirs.
His song “Mining For Gold” was featured in John Sayles film “Silver City.” Gordon’s classic “Frobisher Bay” has been recorded by more than 100 different acts world-wide and was an audition piece on CTV’s “Canadian Idol”. His most ambitious work, the full-length folk opera “Hardscrabble Road” debuted live in the fall of 2003, and was released in June ‘05 on Pipe Street Records. Gordon has produced Cds for many Canadian folk artists, and his popular “Rhyme Capsules” songwriting-in-the-schools project has resulted in over two dozen CDs of songs by young composers. In the last three years he's toured in Great Britain, Cambodia, Vietnam, Japan, and all across North America. He's often touring now with his musician sons Evan and Geordie. His  CD "My Stars Your Eyes" is generating the best reviews and strongest airplay of his long career. It finished 2010 as the 8th top album in Canada for airplay in the singer-songwriter and folk genre.