James Gordon (Canadian musician)

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James Gordon
James Gordon 1 (Hillside 2008).jpg
James Gordon performing at the Hillside Festival, which he co-founded in 1984.
ResidenceGuelph, Ontario, Canada
Known forTamarack, "Frobisher Bay", Hillside Festival
Spouse(s)Val Morse
ChildrenEvan Gordon, Geordie Gordon

James Gordon is a Canadian singer-songwriter, known as a founding member of Tamarack.[1] He has also released more than 20 solo albums.

Musical career[edit]

As a prolific songwriter, James Gordon is known for such diverse songs as "Sweaters for Penguins" and "Frobisher Bay",[2] he wrote the weekly song for the CBC Radio program Basic Black. He is proficient on a variety of instruments including guitar, piano, banjo and mandola,[3] his songs have been covered by other musical artists such as the Cowboy Junkies ("Mining for Gold") and Melanie Doane.[citation needed]

He has toured internationally in North America, the British Isles, Southeast Asia, and Cuba.[4]

He is a co-founder of Guelph's annual Hillside Festival and was its first creative director, from 1985 to 1988,[5][6] he also founded (and was the artistic director of) the Canadian Songwriters' Festival,[5] and was a board member of the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals. Gordon is active in arts-, civics-, and environment-related causes in the Guelph region, for which he was given the Guelph Mayor's Award in 2008.[5]



He was the candidate for the Ontario New Democratic Party in the riding of Guelph in the 2011 Ontario provincial election but lost to incumbent Liz Sandals,[7] he ran again in 2014 but once again lost to Liz Sandals.


James Gordon threw his hat in the ring[8] for Ward Two City Councillor in the city of Guelph, Ontario in the 27 October 2014 Guelph municipal election. Gordon was elected to serve alongside Andy Van Hellemond and plans to continue his activist pursuits[9] such as touring his one-man show, "Stephen Harper: The Musical"[10]



James Gordon performing at Hillside Festival in 2008. His sons, Evan and Geordie, are behind him.
  • Au Canada (1980)
  • Wind River
  • Spirit & Stone
  • 13
  • Fields of Rock and Snow (1993)
  • Frobisher Bay (1993)
  • Leaving Inverarden (1995)
  • Blankets of Snow (1998)

Solo recordings[edit]

  • Looking for Livingstone (1987)
  • Farther Along (1991)
  • Hometown Tunes (1994)
  • Dim Lights, Small City (1995)
  • More Hometown Tunes (1997)
  • Pipe Street Dreams (1999)
  • Mining for Gold: Twenty Years of Songwriting (2002)
  • Tune Cooties (2002)
  • One Timeless Moment (2003)
  • Endomusia (2004), includes "Weapons of Mass Instruction"
  • Nine Green Bottles (2007), includes "Casey Sheehan Didn't Die for Nothing", credited to James Gordon and Sons
  • My Stars Your Eyes (2009)
  • Coyote's Calling (2013), includes "Jack's Dream"

Folk operas (musicals)[edit]

James Gordon performing at Hillside Festival in 2008.

James Gordon used to perform with David Archibald as "Jane & Dave", producing family-oriented musicals.

  • Jane & Dave's Awesome Environmental Adventure (1990)
  • Jane & Dave's Awesome Search for the Golden Toad (1992)
  • Jane & Dave's Awesome Supernatural Camping Adventure (1993)

More recently, his work includes:

  • Hardscrabble Road (2003)
  • Two Steps and a Glass of Water (2005), which deals with mental illness and health, also a film by Glenn Curtis [11]
  • Tryst and Snout (2007)[12]
  • Stephen Harper: The Musical (2013)[13]



  1. ^ Fink, Matt. "Mining For Gold: Twenty Years of Song Writing". acousticmusic.com. Retrieved 20 January 2008.
  2. ^ Varano, Lisa. "James Gordon". Guelph Mercury. Retrieved 19 February 2008.[dead link]
  3. ^ bio at allmusic.com retrieved 1 June 2010.
  4. ^ "James Gordon". abetterworld.ca. Retrieved 20 January 2008.[dead link]
  5. ^ a b c "James Gordon, 2008 Mayor's Award Recipient". Guelph.ca. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2009.
  6. ^ "James Gordon and Sons". Hillside Festival. Retrieved 21 May 2009.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Wheeler withdraws from NDP race, Gordon remains". Guelph Mercury. 14 June 2011. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  8. ^ "Guelph Politico: James Gordon to Give Municipal Politics a Try". guelphpolitico.blogspot.ca. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  9. ^ "Guelph councillor-elect James Gordon vows to remain an activist". guelphmercury.com. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 February 2015. Retrieved 24 February 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Healing and Recovery Through the Arts International Conference". Retrieved 21 February 2008.
  12. ^ Van Wagner, Danielle. "Tryst and Snout (2007)". Retrieved 19 February 2008.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 February 2015. Retrieved 24 February 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)