James Gordon Press Kit

This fine Canadian songwriter is still on a roll. A mature, astute observer of the human heart in all its conditions. Unhurried personal narratives that anyone can share- songwriting on a conversational scale with universal relevance.” - Rock And Reel Review

James Gordon has been there. He’s done that. He has had a remarkably diverse and resilient career in the Canadian cultural sector. As a solo singer-songwriter and with the ground-breaking trio Tamarack, he’s recorded 42 albums and toured relentlessly around the world. He’s written for symphony orchestras, musical theatre and dance works, scored films, and for more than ten years was heard on CBC radio as songwriter-in-residence for the ’Basic Black’ and ‘Ontario Morning’ programs. Between tours, James is a record producer, playwright, community activist, theatre director and he was a Guelph City Councillor for eight years.  

After a long break because of you-know-what,  Gordon is touring again either solo, as a duo with Katherine Wheatley, or with his band consisting of David Woodhead,  Katherine Wheatley, Anne Lindsay, Ian Bell and Randall Coryell on drums if the situation allows!

 “A remarkable Canadian performer. His body of work is truly original” – Penguin Eggs“A confident artist with important things on his mind.” – Toronto Star 
“Rootsy sound, strong songs, with a poet’s eye for telling details and a picket-line singer’s passion.” – Sing Out Magazine 
“Der Kanadier James Gordon ist so etwas wie die graue Eminenz der kanadischen Songwriter-Szene.” (“James Gordon is the Eminem of the Canadian Songwriter scene”) – A Fan in Germany

Selected Achievements 

*Wrote ‘Frobisher Bay’, which has been covered by over one hundred artists world-wide and many choirs. 

*His classic song ‘Mining for Gold’ was included in the John Sayles film Silver City and was recorded by Cowboy Junkies on their breakout album The Trinity Session. 

*Released children’s music album No Grownups Allowed, which went gold with 50,000 copies sold. 

*Well known for his songs about social justice, heritage and environmental issues, he toured for two years with his hugely successful political theatre piece Stephen Harper: The Musical. (It worked. You’re welcome.), and has more recently been virtually offering his one-man multi-media production "James Gordon's Emergency Climate Musical".

*Gordon has produced albums for many Canadian folk artists, and his popular ‘Rhyme Capsules' songwriting-in-the-schools project has resulted in over two dozen recorded collections of songs by young composers. 

*Created the full-length folk opera ‘Hardscrabble Road’ which debuted live in the fall of 2003. 

* His first novel 'Ark Of The Oven Mitt”, was a finalist in 2022 for the Stephen Leacock Humour Award.  

*His last album “When I Stayed Home” was named #1 in a top ten list from Australia for Green Left Magazine of “Ten New Albums that Protest Against Climate Change” coming in just ahead of Barenaked Ladies and Jackson Browne.

*His viral hit about the so-called 'Freedom Convoy', "Crybabies Caravan" has received more than 300,000 hits on social media and YouTube

*He was Guelph's Artist-in-Residence for 2023

*His newest album ‘Wrinkles and Scars’ is already generating a lot of interest. It's a collaboration with a team Of roots music all-stars: Anne Lindsay, Katherine Wheatley, Ian Bell, Randall Coryell and David Woodhead.



RECENT PRESS for the new album “Wrinkles and Scars” 

from James' hometown paper “Guelph Today”

thanks for the interview and story Barbara Latkowski!
James Gordon’s latest album: off the page and on to the River Run stage
Singer songwriter James Gordon from Guelph returned for a live audience at the River Run Centre to record his 42nd album, 'Wrinkles and Scars'
It was a welcome home worth waiting for.
Singer songwriter James Gordon of Guelph was thrilled to return to a live audience at the River Run Centre to record his 42nd album, Wrinkles and Scars, earlier this year.
“This album is special for me. I’m such a Guelph guy. Recording it in the River Run Centre, it's a place that means a lot to me. After all, I was involved with advocating for the creation of it."
As a record producer, playwright, community activist, and theatre director, Gordon also served as city councillor, a role that kept him from performing at his favourite hometown venue.
“I was a city councillor for eight years, and the River Run was always my musical home. I would do a concert there once or twice a year. But I wasn’t allowed to when I was a councillor. Because it is owned by the city, it was perceived as a potential conflict of interest,” Gordon said.
“That was tough. So, this was a welcome home kind of thing.”
Wrinkles and Scars was recorded live over a couple days in January.
“The audience was invited to join us. It’s such a nice space with great acoustics. And to have that warm welcoming Guelph crowd in the audience really affected the music too,” Gordon said.
The performance was backed by an ensemble including Ian Bell, Randall Coryell, Anne Lindsay, Katherine Wheatley and David Woodhead.
On the album are 14 songs that include reflections on aging and loneliness, to some more politically charged material for which Gordon is known, including climate change, religious fundamentalism and the Rwandan genocide.
“I did not choose the songs for this album. The songs chose me. I’m a compulsive song writer, with over 2,000 of them now. In this case, it was a bit thematic, but also, after the pandemic, I could now gather with people in a room. My last album was all just me in my studio,” Gordon said.
“I love collaboration, getting different creative input, and so I was able to assemble this amazing band, all friends who have great talents and in different musical areas.”
After watching a documentary about Leonard Cohen’s 1984 classic, Hallelujah' Gordon looks for the key to unlock the mysteries of the universe with his single, Leonard’s Secret Chord.
“I have an uneasy relationship with Hallelujah because a lot of people in my business think it is just way over done, and it also gets played out of context. But then I saw this documentary about Cohen’s process with that song, and the impact it had,” Gordon said.
Looking at his great body of work, Gordon said he believes Cohen was always searching for meaning and truth.
“We are all on that journey. I wrote Leonard’s Secret Chord’ with an affinity for that sentiment and trying to be that voice for other people who are also on their own journey,” Gordon said.
“I try to stay optimistic despite our current challenges,” he says. “As an activist, I want to hold onto hope, otherwise there’s no point investing energy into ‘the cause.’ That often feels pretty unrealistic in my moments of despair.”
As a founding member of folk trio Tamarack, with whom he performed from 1978 to 2000, and subsequently as a solo artist, Gordon has toured extensively across the globe.
He’s composed for symphony orchestras, musical theatre and dance troupes, written film scores, and served as a songwriter-in-residence on CBC radio for over a decade. As a record producer, he’s credited on albums by Canadian folk artists, and has mentored both youth and adult songwriters.
“The number of albums just keep adding up because I just can’t stop,” Gordon said.
“For me, it's important to have an outlet to express myself. During the pandemic, I was stuck at home and not out on the road, which for 40 years, has always been my pattern. It's my little way to stay connected.”
Gordon said it's his job ‘to just serve the song.'
“I think, what can I do to this song to lift it off the page and onto the stage?” he said.
Gordon looks forward to touring and returning for another River Run Centre concert at home.
“I’m getting to be quite an elderly gentleman now. The reason that I still do this, is that every now and then, there are moments where I feel that what I’ve contributed through my art or through my music, has landed with someone that means something to them. I do it because I can make connections with my music,” Gordon said.
"I want to make sure that I am still relevant and doing something that resonates with people, and when it does, that is still a pretty great feeling for me.”
To hear Leonard’s Secret Chord, visit YouTube, Spotify, and Website
( AND if you want to listen to the album go to jamesgordonmusic.bandcamp.com... and if you're old fashioned you might consider purchasing one of the little darlings. )

James Gordon discusses new album “Wrinkles and Scars” and activism

By Jan vanderhorst

There is an energy from a live performance that can’t be found in a studio recording. It’s the knowledge of not being able to stop partway through and start over again that happens when you’re in a studio. It’s the excitement of performing in front of a live audience who are engaged with what you’re doing. That’s one of the main reasons James Gordon recorded his latest album, Wrinkles And Scars, at the River Run Centre in his hometown of Guelph, ON.

“There’s a certain magical energy that can happen when you have this wonderful band playing ‘in the moment’ and the audience is right there with them. It’s something I really enjoy and I think listeners do too.”

There was also an economic reason for recording a live album. The River Run Centre has the technical infrastructure to record every band member individually. This way, any corrections could be made later just as if they had recorded in a studio. Another major financial consideration was the environment artists are faced with these days, with revenues from CD sales plummeting while income from streaming services are miniscule. The budgets for recording albums aren’t what they used to be.

“Do you want to spend $30,000 making an album if you’re not going to get that back from sales?”

Recording a live album also has the benefits of generating revenue from ticket sales for the concerts themselves. To that end, Wrinkles And Scars is the third album James has recorded this way.

The concerts at the River Run Centre were also kind of a homecoming for James. For eight years, he served as a city councillor, and since the River Run Centre is a city-owned facility, he was prevented from performing there due to conflict of interest regulations.

His time on council also made it difficult to maintain a performing career, so once James was freed of municipal responsibilities, he immediately filled his calendar with music dates.

“It wasn’t quite relief I wasn’t on council but excitement about what I could do now.”

Even before James was on Guelph City council, a hallmark of his career has been community and environmental activism. Those issues are represented on Wrinkles And Scars. “Wild Wind Blows” and “Lonesome As Hank Williams Tonight” reference the wildfires which devastated BC in 2023. Because the continent was blanketed in smoke from fires caused by climate change, James expected people would be spurred into action. Sadly, he found that people didn’t change their attitudes and in fact, put it all down to careless campers.

“When I was able to tour after the pandemic, it was more obvious these things needed to be talked about. If I can turn my experiences in travelling into songs that might have a message that resonates with people, then that’s my mission.”

Fighting the good fight for social activism has been a part of James’ life and career for a long time. It’s one of the reasons why he ran for city council in the first place. But working so long for change and seeing it come slowly can be discouraging.

“Finding ways to stay involved in community, to use your energies in a way that might have an impact, even the doing of it can be valuable. It’s gathering ‘in community’ and working on stuff instead of feeling sorry for yourself. That’s been my learning and I think it’s snuck its way under this project.”

As someone who’s written hundreds of songs on a variety of topics and issues, you’d think James has done and seen it all. But even he was surprised by the reaction from some people to his song “Crybabies Caravan,” which became a viral hit. The song addressed Canada’s anti-vaccine, anti-mask trucker convoys, otherwise known as the “Freedom Convoy.” Besides the nearly more than 300,000 listens, he also received hate mail and death threats.

“It was so bad I had the police call me to offer protection.”

In response, James wrote “When You Let Love Leave Your Heart” which is on the new album.

“It felt like everyone spiraled down into a dark place.”

The official launch of Wrinkles And Scars will take place in May at Hugh’s Room in Toronto, featuring James’ “Exceptional Ensemble” consisting of Ian Bell, Randall Coryell, Anne Lindsay, Katherine Wheatley and David Woodhead. In the meantime, he’s directing a play titled Belonging In The Township Of Wellesley, where residents shared their stories and James adapted them into a play. This is after he directed a film version of one of his other plays, Living Below The Line, based on the experiences of those who live below the poverty line.

“I’m my own worst enemy for promoting things I do because I’m always onto the next project.”


Recent Presshttps://tinnitist.com/2024/03/18/james-gordon-keeps-looking-for-leonards-secret-chord/

Recent press: https://www.comoxvalleyrecord.com/entertainment/james-gordon-to-play-two-shows-in-the-comox-valley/?fbclid=IwAR2SV5BKhA1xLCrc23dcE01YSHipWlacsnNVoTRWWlcN4ZXO-Y6OJscV-xw

Press Photos-by Trina Koster: hi-res Downloads

James Gordon and Katherine Wheatley

James Gordon and Katherine Wheatley

James Gordon Solo Stage Plot

Sample Track

Sample Video

Inquiries: 226-971-9132 or james@jamesgordon.ca- OR