Jon Brooks

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Jon Brooks
Background information
Born1968 (age 50–51)
King City, Ontario, Canada
OriginToronto, Ontario, Canada
GenresFolk, Roots music, Americana, Solo Acoustic, Folk Rock, Hip hop, Spoken Word, Blues
Instruments615 Taylor Guitar
Years active2006–present
LabelsBorealis Records

Jon Brooks (born 1968) is a Canadian singer-songwriter who is most well known for his some-what gritty, and rough voice that accompany his guitar solos. He mainly plays guitar & harmonica, though he can play drums, piano, hammond organ, and 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). 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.


Brooks has released 6 albums to date. The most recent being No One Travels Alone.

  • No Mean City (2006)
  • Ours and the Shepherds (2007)
  • Moth nor Rust (2009)
  • Delicate Cages (2012)
  • The Smiling and Beautiful Countryside (2014)
  • No One Travels Alone (2018)[1]


No Mean City[edit]

Brooks's 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 the 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[edit]

The title of Brooks's 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 World War I to current missions in Afghanistan, the 13 songs were inspired by the lives of the Canadians including Sen. Romeo Dallaire, Padre William Henry Davis, John McRae, Sgt. Tommy Prince, and James Loney. The album earned Brooks multiple awards, a place in the Canadian War Museum and the John McCrae Society, and his first Songwriter of the Year nomination at the 2007 Canadian Folk Music Awards.

Moth nor Rust[edit]

Moth Nor Rust (2009) was Brooks's third release. The songs were 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 the songs were published by Canada's foremost literary journal, Exile Editions.

Delicate Cages[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. As in its three predecessors, the 11 songs on Delicate Cages reflect common themes, in this case 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." Another similarity with Brooks's other releases is the wide-ranging, topical and controversial song subjects: the Alberta tar sands ("Fort McMurray"), Bill 101 and Quebec's language laws ("Hudson Girl"), Palestinian suicide bombers ("Son of Hamas"), a 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[edit]

Brooks's fifth album, released by Borealis Records in November 2014, consists of murder ballads and was recorded in Toronto by David Travers-Smith. It draws on 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. 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's most overtly political and subversive album to date. The death count is 75. Nominated for Contemporary Album of the Year, the album also earned Brooks his fourth Songwriter of the Year nomination by the Canadian Folk Music Awards.

No One Travels Alone[edit]

Jon Brooks' 6th album, No One Travels Alone, accomplishes something truly interesting in modern songwriting: borrowing from the Elizabethan sonneteers, the album fulfils a ‘corona of songs. Corona form interconnects each song by first and last lines – the last line of the first song is the first line of the following song, etc…until the final song completes a circle, or corona. This brilliant new set of songs from Jon are interconnected, as are we; thus it is: ‘No One Travels Alone.’

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 2015 Canadian Folk Music Award nominee – English Songwriter of the Year[2]
  • 2015 Canadian Folk Music Award nominee – Contemporary Album of the Year[3]
  • 2012 Canadian Folk Music Award nominee – English Songwriter of the Year[4]
  • 2010 International Songwriting Competition winner[5]
  • 2010 Kerrville New Folk Competition winner[6]
  • 2009 Canadian Folk Music Award nominee – English Songwriter of the Year[7]
  • 2007 Canadian Folk Music Award nominee – English Songwriter of the Year[8]


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

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. ^ from copy of CD purchased from performer
  2. ^ CFMA Nominees
  3. ^ CFMA Nominees
  4. ^ CFMA Nominees[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ ISC "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 July 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2010.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ Kerrville Folk Festival
  7. ^ CFMA Nominees "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 November 2009. Retrieved 1 December 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ CFMA Nominees[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]