"Wrinkles and Scars" due out March '24 on Pipe Street Records
watch for it at jamesgordonmusic.bandcamp.com
“A remarkable Canadian performer. His body of work is truly original” – Penguin Eggs
Veteran singer-songwriter James Gordon is back with what he claims is his 42nd album (when you include the 14 he created with his former band Tamarack and the 8 he released with his role as songwriter-in-residence on two CBC radio programmes).
‘Wrinkles and Scars’, on Pipe Street Records, lives up to a comment the Toronto Star made about this prolific Guelph-based musician, songwriter, novelist, playwright and producer:
“A confident artist with important things on his mind.”
This ambitious new project features Gordon’s ‘Exceptional Ensemble’- a most impressive line-up of Canadian roots-music all -stars and the first time he’s used a full-band sound in a while.
*Anne Lindsay, known these days as a member of the Jim Cuddy Band, is the main soloist on fiddle, mandolin and piano.
* David Woodhead on bass, has played with James off and on for 40 years and is known as Stan Rogers’ accompanist. Currently he’s touring with James The Other, (Keelaghan).
* Katherine Wheatley is on guitar and vocals. A real force on her own as a singer-songwriter and as part of ‘Boreal’, ‘Wendel and Wheat’ and ‘Betty and The Bobs’.
* Ian Bell is the ‘utility man’- on button accordion, harmonica, concertina, guitar, banjo, jaw harp, and bass when David is fooling around on other things. Ian has been there and done that , and is also a fine songwriter with many albums to his credit.
* Randall Coryell on drums. Randall has played with many great acts including Allannah Myles, Tom Cochrane, Glass Tiger, Paul Butterfield, Bo Diddley, Quartette and the Marigolds.
*James himself contributes vocals, guitar, piano, banjo, harmonica, tin whistle, trumpet and glockenspiel!
As a collaborative team they’ve arranged and recorded 14 brand-new and compelling Gordon songs. The sound is bigger than his last, more intimate, work: more radio-friendly and richly textured. As ‘Sing Out Magazine’ said about a previous release, he has a “rootsy sound, strong songs, with a poet’s eye for telling details and a picket-line singer’s passion.”
Known for delving into sometimes challenging topics, this time we see Gordon exploring the climate-change impact of last year’s wildfires in the first single ‘Wild Wind Blows’, the dangerous American religious right with ‘American Taliban’, dementia with ‘Uncle Neil’, our increasing sense of despair and overwhelm with ‘The World’s Heavy Weight’, the ongoing challenges in the music biz with “Music Was Your Lover”, isolation with the haunting ‘Lonesome as Hank Williams Tonight’, genocide with ‘Nyabarongo’, the realities of extreme capitalism with the humorous ‘Yacht Money’, and exploring the aging process with ‘Foolish Old Man’ and the whimsical title track, and much more.
Recorded live at Guelph’s River Run Centre at the end of January, producer Evan Gordon was able to take a multi-track recording from the two nights of performances there and finesse it in the studio to honour the amazing performances by that remarkable band.
James is busier than ever after stepping down from his ‘side hustle’ that he did for eight years, doing his civic duty as a Guelph City Councillor. In the past 3 years since the release of ‘When I Stayed Home’, (Guess what those songs were mostly about!), his first novel ‘The Ark of The Oven Mitt’ was a finalist for the Stephen Leacock Humour Award; his viral hit ‘Crybabies Caravan’, about the Ottawa Trucker’s Convoy, has had more than 300,000 plays and generated both accolades and death threats; he directed a play for Watercourse Theatre about homelessness and mental health issues which has just been turned into a film; his latest book, a musical memoir called ‘The Highway and I’ has been really well-received, and he’s toured Canada and the U.S. relentlessly since that derned virus abated enough to open up venues again.
His classic songs ‘Frobisher Bay’ and ‘Mining For Gold’ have renewed lives after being covered by the popular British band ‘TheLongest Johns’,and he is cementing his reputation as ‘The Songwriter’s Songwriter’ with his ongoing songwriter retreats and classes.
‘Wrinkles and Scars’ is available as a digital download and an actual old-fashioned CD from jamesgordonmusic.bandcamp.com
25/25 Available Now as a Digital Download at https://jamesgordonmusic.bandcamp.com/album/25-25
THIS is a fundraiser for my NEXT album to be released April 1st 2024 . Purchase this now and you'll get a FREE download of that Album- called 'James Gordon and his Exceptional Ensemble'. You'll receive a promo code via email when that new album is complete, plus you'll receive a big thanks for supporting this new project!
Here's the Deal:
in the Year 2000, When I signed with Borealis Records, they released "Mining For Gold: 20 years of Songwriting"- a "best of' collection showcasing my best work from 1978 to 1998. I never would have guessed that another 25 years has sped by, with a lot of albums created along the way. So here's 25/25- 25 songs drawn from my 'main' albums over those 25 years. ( I put out quite a few albums aside from the ones captured here, but they were 'specialty' albums with specific themes, or soundtracks from my musicals etc. We'll leave those for another collection. This is for fans only- a fundraising effort for 2024's new release "James Gordon and His Exceptional Ensemble" . Thanks for contributing!
THE HIGHWAY AND I- NEW BOOK!
Tales From My 40-Year Romance With The Road
By James Gordon
Pipe Street Publishing
Order now at https://jamesgordonmusic.bandcamp.com/merch/the-highway-and-i-new-book
Many of these stories appeared in a ‘Book-on-CD’ that I released a number of years ago. I have had many more adventures since, and I’ve become a real proponent of keeping the old-school book format alive, so I’ve got a new and improved, updated and expanded version for you here.
There is an album of 19 ‘road songs’ to accompany this work too.
Here’s the deal:
I’ve been a professional wandering minstrel for more than 40 years. Name a place. Yup. I’ve played there. All in all I’m pleased to say that the money’s been terrible, the driving has been endless, the food mediocre, the motels overpriced, and the glamorous lifestyle extremely overrated. I’ve loved every minute of it.
I still can’t sleep at night because I’m impatient to see what the next
day brings, and because there’s often a snoring bandmate in the next bed. There’s always a story. An adventure. Not a big rip-roaring adventure. A nice quirky little one (which is how I’m described in most of my reviews). Modest, understated, Canadian adventures. Always some moment, an interaction, a smile, a stop along the way: something that suddenly makes it all seem worthwhile; just like Mary Tyler Moore driving into Minneapolis[LB1] .
I’ve fashioned some sort of career by sprinkling song dust on these moments and singing them every night to complete strangers. The magic part of my job, the thing that keeps me doing this, is that sharing these stories transforms those strangers into friends within minutes. I’ve written down some of my favourite tales for you here. I hope you enjoy them.
See you along the road somewhere.
Here's a link to me reading a couple of the stories! https://youtu.be/JthdxVoHBC8
New Book! The Highway And I
"The Ark Of The Oven Mitt" Great reviews are coming in!
‘The Ark Of The Oven Mitt’ is a unique hybrid: part novel and part musical album. There’s a QR code in the front of the ‘hard copy’ book that guides readers to the 36 songs that carry the plot along- performed by top Canadian musicians. It’s also an audio book, where the songs flow naturally into the narration.
Here’s the scoop:
A Reporter for a Canadian music magazine is asked to do a ‘where-are-they-now’ story about ‘Miles and Myles’, a popular band in the ‘80s.
Maddie Myles, the charismatic lead singer, leaves her partner and the band at the height of its fame, and disappears. Her ex, Miles Gerber, has been touring the bar circuit for 20 years with his own group “Miles Gerber and The Shit Disturbers”. As the audience declines, Miles says each night that they are ‘searching for the end of the music business’. Miles is unwilling to be interviewed, so the reporter gives an old tape recorder to the group’s drummer, who gives us a rolling report on the slow decline of the band, and the music business in general.
One day, in their beat-up touring van, they pick up a dynamic young woman at the side of the road, who starts them on a new journey: not an ending, but a new direction that leads to a revival, and lots of self-discovery for Miles. Along the way they learn the value of community, and the power of stories. In Part Two they accidentally find themselves at the center of an embryonic ‘utopian colony’ with a festival atmosphere, which is where the unusual title of the book comes from. Miles writes songs along the way that tell the story of the challenges of a changing world, compelling tales of those who have fallen in between the cracks of a system that has left them behind.
With humour, and 36 original songs, we laugh, learn, and love along with a rag-tag bunch of characters who find resolution and fulfillment after years of drifting along an endless highway.
The book is available through jamesgordonmusic.bandcamp.com or in Guelph at the Bookshelf. The Audio book is available on the same website or on almost any platform where you look for such a thing.
“This quirky, rambling tale of a band of misfit, has-been musicians had me laughing out loud more than once... A wild, fun read which I am rating 4 out of 5 stars”. Susan Libanio Reedsy/Discovery
“A fading Canadian band is revitalized by a young vagabond in this rollicking showbiz novel… Gordon’s yarn is partly a love letter to small-town Canada, with its greasy spoons, wind-swept plains, un-chic shops, and regular folks who keep on going despite their troubles. He maps this terrain well in beautifully crafted scenes of savory characters sharing honky-tonk conviviality… Gordon is a talented writer with a punchy, resonant prose style” -Kirkus Reviews
“James Gordon’s The Ark Of The Oven Mitt gave me a wonderful time. It’s a book and music album in one!...
I’ve never heard of him, but now I am a fan.....Obviously, the author has a great sense of humor. His clever puns will have you chuckling throughout the book....
I cannot discuss the title, for then I would be in spoiler territory. Suffice it to say that the story ended splendidly. I wish it could happen that way in real life. .....Lovers of music, particularly country rock, will relish this book. The book vividly presents how technology is affecting lives: displacing local traders; strangling industries, including show business; and torturing the planet. Are we better off now?” OnlineBookClub.
You can purchase this unique work as an audio book or as an actual old-school book, at jamesgordonmusic.bandcamp.com
New Album: When I Stayed Home
This Just in: the 2nd single from "When I Stayed Home" on Pipe Street Records- "The Great Divide," https://youtu.be/T9rnrRIkqa8 has been named one of the top songs of 2021 by Cashbox magazine!
Here's the scoop with this new project:
James Gordon, like most of us, had his life radically disrupted by the pandemic.
A legendary ‘gig pig’, he’s toured relentlessly since he was 20 years old, which wasn’t exactly yesterday.
Stuck at home, he sulked for a while then got busy. And boy was he busy.
From his tiny studio he finished a novel that is accompanied by a 36-song recording; he did a virtual tour of his one-man show “James Gordon’s Emergency Climate Musical”; he kicked cancer’s butt, dealt with the overwhelm of his side hustle as a Guelph city councillor during Covid, and perhaps most significantly, wrote and recorded his 40th album, called, appropriately, “When I Stayed Home”.
Unable to bring any of his ‘stable’ of top Canadian talent into the studio, Gordon buckled down and played all the instruments himself, including acoustic and electric guitar, banjo, mandolin, piano, bass, accordion, (the loneliest of instruments), harmonica, tin whistle, ukulele, and percussion. He made two brief exceptions to his “all by myself rule” with stellar cameos from vocalist Tannis Slimmon and clarinetist John David Williams.
The ‘stay at home’ orders allowed Gordon to challenge himself lyrically and musically, and we think you’ll appreciate the results. The songs are reflective, the sound intimate and warm; stripped down. Just as the album was ready for release, he popped another song into the mix, a timely commentary on the shocking news around residential schools. That late arrival, “We’ll Bring You Home” is the first single on a project that covers many topics including climate change, the income gap, racism, empathy, social justice, our natural environment, and ‘love in a challenging time’. James says these songs demanded to be written, and he’s excited about sharing them with the opening-up world.
Here's the link to purchase a hard copy or a download, or to stream: