Jon Brooks

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Jon Brooks
Background information
Born 1968 (age 48–49)
King City, Ontario, Canada
Origin Toronto, Canada
Genres Folk, Roots, Americana, Solo Acoustic, Folk Rock, Hip hop, Spoken Word, Blues
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter
Instruments 615 Taylor Guitar
Years active 2006-present
Labels Borealis Records

Jon Brooks (born 1968 in King City, Ontario, Canada) is a Canadian singer-songwriter. Primarily known as a solo acoustic guitarist and vocalist, he is also proficient with a wide range of instruments including piano, Hammond organ, harmonica, drums, and most recently, the harmonium.

Among the accolades he has received are four nominations for Songwriter of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards for Ours and the Shepherds (2007), Moth Nor Rust (2009), Delicate Cages (2012), and The Smiling and Beautiful Countryside (2015) respectively. In 2009, he was the Canadian Regional Winner of the annual Mountain Stage New Song Contest. In 2010, he was a New Folk Winner at The Kerrville Folk Festival in Kerrville, Texas.


  • No Mean City (2006)
  • Ours And The Shepherds (2007)
  • Moth Nor Rust (2009)
  • Delicate Cages (2012)
  • The Smiling And Beautiful Countryside (2014)


No Mean City (2006)[edit]

Brooks' first full length offering is no longer in print and only available digitally on iTunes. No Mean City is a 13 song "ode to the modern urban disaster," and is set in Toronto's past and present. Focusing on those living "on the outskirts of approval," the songs are boldly layered with biblical, literary, and historical allusion. The idea for No Mean City was inspired by Toronto architecture historian, Eric Arthur's book of the same name - which also accounts for why all the songs devote equal attention to their characters' surrounding architecture.

Ours And The Shepherds (2007)[edit]

The title of Brooks' second release, Ours and the Shepherds (2007), was taken from Dorothy Day's response to her own reflection, 'whose fault is it? It's ours and the shepherds'. A collection of Canadian war stories dating from WWI through to current missions in Afghanistan. 13 songs inspired by the lives of Canadians, Sen. Romeo Dallaire, Padre William Henry Davis, John McRae, Sgt. Tommy Prince, and James Loney to name a few. OATS earned Jon multiple awards, a place in the Canadian War Museum and The John McRae Society, as well as his first 'Songwriter of the Year' nomination at the 2007 Canadian Folk Music Awards.

Moth Nor Rust (2009)[edit]

Moth Nor Rust (2009) was Brooks' third release. The theme: songs inspired by 'all that neither moth nor rust' can touch - love, hope, trust, faith, memory, justice, inspiration, and gratitude. The ten songs were recorded live-in-studio, solo, and in first or second takes in the effort to amplify the austere theme of human essentials. Moth Nor Rust enjoyed international chart positions and worldwide airplay as well as his second 'Songwriter of the Year' nomination at the 2009 Canadian Folk Music Awards. The lyrics of MNR were published by Canada's foremost literary journal, Exile Editions.

Delicate Cages (2012)[edit]

Delicate Cages was initially released independently in November 2011 but was formally re-released by Borealis Records in May 2012. The album earned Brooks his third 'Songwriter of the Year' nomination in 5 years from The Canadian Folk Music Awards. Like its three predecessors, the 11 songs on Delicate Cages were inter-woven to larger common themes of love and fear; and freedom and imprisonment. The title is taken from the Robert Bly poem, Taking The Hands: 'Taking the hands of someone you love,/you see they are delicate cages.' Also consistent with Brooks' releases, the song subjects were as wide ranging as they were topical and controversial: the Alberta tar sands (Fort McMurray); Bill 101 and Quebec's language laws (Hudson Girl); Palestinian suicide bombers (Son of Hamas); Bosnian child soldier turned Canadian mixed martial arts fighter (Cage Fighter); and so-called 'Honour Killing' (The Lonesome Death of Aqsa Parvez). Morally and politically ambiguous, Delicate Cages, offered what Brooks has since called, "necessary and alternative understandings of 'hope' and 'grief' that are neither sanitized, dumbed down, nor cheapened or degraded by the modern lie of 'closure.'"

The Smiling And Beautiful Countryside (2014)[edit]

Brooks' fifth album, released by Borealis Records November 2014, is an album of murder ballads and was recorded in Toronto by David Travers-Smith. An intrepid solo set that defies categorization and resists the typical 'folk,' 'singer-songwriter,' or 'solo acoustic' description. Philosophical paradox, gallows humour, impossible love, titillating gore, serial killers, gun dealers, rampage killings, missing women, First Nations injustice and catastrophe, necrophilia, Shakespeare, and John Milton: The Smiling and Beautiful Countryside is neither an album for casual fans nor is it music that, according to the album's one-sheet, "will ever be heard in your dentist's waiting room." Once asked: 'Why would you record such violent songs?' Brooks' reply: "Because, a) I wanted to write an album from which nobody indifferently escapes, an album that could only be loved or hated; b) if courage is a 'muscle,' it currently is in need of exercising through a healthy dose of fear; and 3: it just felt time to 'offend.' I've already done 4 albums that inspire and a songwriter afraid of offending is a fraud." Throughout the record two distinct 'murderers' terrorize society: the overt and alienated human killer and its psychotic double, the corporation - the "individual baptized by law." In this regard, The Smiling and Beautiful Countryside is Brooks' most overtly political and subversive album to date. The death count is 75. Nominated for 'Contemporary Album of the Year,' the album also earned Jon his fourth nomination for 'English Songwriter of the Year' by the Canadian Folk Music Awards.

Awards and Nominations[edit]


Brooks has been invited to perform at many international music festivals including:

Canada: Home County Folk Festival (2006 & 2008), Shelter Valley Folk Festival (2007 & 2011), Edmonton Folk Festival (2008), Frostbite Music Festival (2008), Ottawa Folk Festival (2010), Islands Folk Festival (2010, 2012), Calgary Folk Music Festival (2011),
Summerfolk Festival (2014) USA: Kerrville Folk Festival (2010, 2011, 2013), Rice Festival (2010),
Fox Valley Folk Festival (2014),
Falcon Ridge Folk Festival (2012) UK: Greenbelt Festival (2009)
Australia: Newstead Folk Festival (2011)


  1. ^ CFMA Nominees
  2. ^ CFMA Nominees
  3. ^ CFMA Nominees[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ ISC "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-10. Retrieved 2010-07-14. 
  5. ^ Kerrville Folk Festival
  6. ^ CFMA Nominees "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-11-24. Retrieved 2009-12-01. 
  7. ^ CFMA Nominees[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]