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.
Residence Guelph, Ontario
Occupation singer-songwriter
Known for Tamarack, "Frobisher Bay", Hillside Festival
Spouse(s) Val Morse
Children Evan 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. As a prolific songwriter, he 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]

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

His songs have been covered by other musical artists such as the Cowboy Junkies ("Mining for Gold") and Melanie Doane.

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 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 [8]
  • Tryst and Snout (2007)[9]


  • "Mining for Gold" on the soundtrack of the film Silver City (2004)
  • Two Steps and a Glass of Water


  1. ^ Fink, Matt. "Mining For Gold: Twenty Years of Song Writing". acousticmusic.com. Retrieved 20 January 2008. 
  2. ^ Varano, Lisa. [dead link] "James Gordon". Guelph Mercury. Retrieved 19 February 2008. 
  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. Retrieved 21 May 2009. 
  6. ^ "James Gordon and Sons". Hillside Festival. Retrieved 21 May 2009. 
  7. ^ "Wheeler withdraws from NDP race, Gordon remains". Guelph Mercury. 14 June 2011. Retrieved 1 August 2011. 
  8. ^ "Healing and Recovery Through the Arts International Conference". Retrieved 21 February 2008. 
  9. ^ Van Wagner, Danielle. "Tryst and Snout (2007)". Retrieved 19 February 2008.