Gordon Bok

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Gordon Bok
Born (1939-10-31) October 31, 1939 (age 77)
Camden, Maine
Genres folk
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Website http://www.gordonbok.com

Gordon Bok (born October 31, 1939) is a folklorist and singer/songwriter who grew up in Camden, Maine.


His first album, self-titled, was produced by Noel Paul Stookey (Paul of Peter, Paul, and Mary) and released in 1965[1] on the Verve Records Folkways imprint (not to be confused with Moe Asch's Folkways Records). His second album, A Tune for November, was released on Sandy Paton's Connecticut-based Folk-Legacy label in 1970. His association with Folk-Legacy has continued since that time, though his more recent work (from the early 1990s on) has been released on his own label, Timberhead Music. For a long time, he was best known as part of a trio with Ed Trickett and Ann Mayo Muir, Trickett accompanying with the hammered dulcimer and guitar and Muir with the harp and flute.

Bok sings in a rich baritone and plays six-string guitar (both the steel-string acoustic guitar and the nylon-string classical guitar) and 12-string guitar. In his playing of the nylon-string guitar he embraces the tradition of Latin American guitar music. He also plays a self-built instrument he calls the cellamba, a six-string, fretted cello.

As a songwriter, Bok draws on his experience in and around the working boat culture of the Gulf of Maine. He spins into song the diverse voices of fishermen and other sea-folk, crafting a penetrating vignette or a full-fledged ballad-song as the material demands. At times (especially in his best work of the 1970s), he reaches deep into the wealth of sea myth that haunts the North Atlantic. To animate these legends of Selkie-folk, sea fairies and boat spirits, he resorts to freer forms, producing records like Seal Djiril's Hymn, where song and spoken verse are interspersed, or composing cantefables (e.g. "Saben the Woodfitter") in which spoken narrative blends with sudden song-phrasings.

As much energy as Bok invests in making songs - many of which ("Dillan Bay", "The Hills of Isle au Haut", "Turning Toward the Morning") have grown permanent roots in the rough shores of New England and have all but passed into tradition - he is equally energetic as a folklorist and gatherer of songs. His repertoire overflows with contemporary songs written by his friends from all over North America, Australia, and the British Isles, but it only starts there: he sings, in the original languages, folksongs from Italy, Portugal, Mongolia, French Canada, Latin America, and the Gaelic Hebrides, among other places, not mentioning the huge body of old anglophone folklore over which he exercises mastery.

He is also an artist/master craftsman mainly dealing with sea themes done in wood carvings.

Personal life[edit]

Gordon is the grandson of Edward Bok, the cousin of Derek Bok, and the uncle of Gideon Bok.


Works alone and with friends[edit]

  • Gordon Bok (1965)
  • A Tune for November (1970)
  • Peter Kagan and the Wind (1971)
  • Seal Djiril's Hymn (1972)
  • Cold as a Dog and the Wind Northeast: The Spoken Ballads of Ruth Moore (1973)
  • Clearwater (1974)
  • Bay of Fundy (1975)
  • Clearwater II (1977)
  • Another Land Made of Water (1979)
  • Jeremy Brown and Jeannie Teal (1981)
  • A Rogue's Gallery of Songs for the 12-String (1983)
  • Clear Away in the Morning (1983, a thematic compilation of previously released work)
  • Ensemble (1988)
  • The Play of the Lady Odivere (1989)
  • Return to the Land (1990)
  • Schooners (1992)
  • North Wind's Clearing (1995, a thematic compilation of previously released work)
  • Neighbors (1996, with Cindy Kallet)
  • Gatherings (1998)
  • In the Kind Land (1999)
  • Dear to our Island (2001)
  • Herrings in the Bay (2003)
  • Apples in the Basket (2005)
  • Gordon Bok in Concert (2006)
  • Other Eyes (2010)
  • Because You Asked (2012)
  • Then & Now (2015)

Works with Ed Trickett and Ann Mayo Muir[edit]

  • Turning Toward the Morning (1975)
  • The Ways of Man (1978)
  • A Water Over Stone (1980)
  • All Shall Be Well Again (1983)
  • Fashioned in the Clay (1985)
  • Minneapolis Concert (live album, 1987)
  • The First 15 Years (a 2-vol. comp. from earlier recordings, 1990)
  • And So Will We Yet (1990)
  • Language of the Heart (1994)
  • Harbors of Home (1998)

Appears on[edit]

  • Ed Trickett, Gently Down the Stream of Time
  • Ann Mayo Muir, So Goes My Heart
  • Margaret MacArthur, The Old Songs (1975)
  • Anne Dodson, From Where I Sit
  • Cindy Kallet, This Way Home
  • The New Golden Ring, Five Days Singing
  • The Quasimodal Chorus, The Songs of Jan Harmon
  • Cathy Barton, Dave Para & the Paton Family, ′Twas on a Night Like This (A Christmas Legacy) (1989)


  1. ^ Harris, Craig. "Biography: Gordon Bok". AMG. Retrieved 14 May 2010. 

External links[edit]