James Gordon has been there. He’s done that. He has had a remarkably diverse and resilient career in the Canadian entertainment business. As a solo singer-songwriter and with the ground-breaking trio, Tamarack, he’s recorded at least 40 albums (he’s lost track), and toured relentlessly around the world. He’s written for symphony orchestras, musical theatre and dance works, scored films, and for more than ten years, was heard on CBC radio as songwriter-in-residence for the ‘Basic Black’ and ‘Ontario Morning’ programs. Between tours, James is a record producer, playwright, community activist, theatre director and he just finished 8 years with his ‘side hustle’ as a Guelph City Councillor (he didn’t run again. 8 years was enough).
His song ‘Mining For Gold’ was featured in the John Sayles film ‘Silver City’, and was included on the classic Cowboy Junkies album ‘The Trinity Sessions’. Gordon’s iconic ‘Frobisher Bay’ has been recorded by more than 100 different acts world-wide, has become a standard in choirs everywhere, and is in ‘Rise Again’, the sequel to the legendary ‘Rise Up Singing’ songbook. Well-known for his songs about social justice, heritage, and environmental issues, he recently concluded a COVID-safe virtual tour of his 6th full-length play ‘James Gordon’s Emergency Climate Musical’. Gordon has produced CDs for many Canadian folk artists, and his popular ‘Rhyme Capsules’ songwriting-in-the-schools project, (through which he has facilitated over 1500 songwriting workshops), has resulted in over two dozen CDs of songs by young composers. He mentors adult songwriters too with his ‘Song Doctor’ program and his annual songwriting retreat weekends.
His last album, ‘The Heritage Hall Sessions’ on Borealis Records charted internationally in the roots, singer-songwriter, and Americana categories. His newest album ‘When I Stayed Home’ is just out, as is his unique ‘musical novel,’ The Ark Of The Oven Mitt, which includes a downloadable recording of 36 original songs that move the plot along. The novel was a finalist for the Stephen Leacock Humour Awards. He also had a viral hit this spring with a political satire song about the ‘Freedom Convoy’ entitled ‘Crybabies Caravan’ which has had 300,000 hits on social media and YouTube already! He now has a monthly podcast called ‘James Gordon: Song and Rants Man,’ and his latest book, a musical memoir: The Highway And I, was released in December 2022.
The Highway and I
By James Gordon
Published by Pipe Street Publishing
James Gordon’s first novel, The Ark Of The Oven Mitt, was published in 2021 to great reviews and was rewarded with a finalist spot for the Stephen Leacock Humour Award. The book tells the story of a rag-tag bunch of Canadian musicians on a cross-country tour. Well, surprise, surprise, the fictional tale was inspired by Gordon’s own remarkable career as a travelling musician. Subtitled Tales from my 40-year Romance with the Road, The Highway and I is the real deal: true stories from a lifetime on the often-rocky road.
You’d think from reading this book that his career was a comic disaster. Far from it, but Gordon tends to dwell in his own inimitable style on the ‘shows that got away’; the quirky ones, the misadventures that are more memorable than his many triumphs. He takes us along with him in ‘the lovely Miss Sue Baru’ as he plays at fall fairs, beauty contests, small town banquets, the deli section of a grocery store, and yes, a nudist colony. Venues all over the world that vary in size from the Cotton Bowl in Dallas to an ATM machine in his hometown. With a free download, you’ll also get to hear a collection of nineteen of the best James Gordon road songs.
Fasten your seat belt and join the tour!
A Reporter for a Canadian music magazine is asked to do a ‘where-are-they-now’ story about ‘Miles and Myles’, a popular band in the ‘80s.
Maddie Myles, the charismatic lead singer, leaves her partner and the band at the height of its fame, and disappears. Her ex, Miles Gerber, has been touring the bar circuit for 20 years with his own group “Miles Gerber and The Shit Disturbers”. As the audience declines, Miles says each night that they are ‘searching for the end of the music business.’ Miles is unwilling to be interviewed, so the reporter gives an old tape recorder to the group’s drummer, who gives us a rolling report on the slow decline of the band, and the music business in general.
One day, in their beat-up touring van, they pick up a dynamic young woman at the side of the road, who starts them on a new journey: not an ending, but a new direction that leads to a revival, and lots of self-discovery for Miles. Along the way they learn the value of community, and the power of stories. In Part Two they accidentally find themselves at the center of an embryonic ‘utopian colony’ with a festival atmosphere, which is where the unusual title of the book comes from. Miles writes songs along the way that tell the story of the challenges of a changing world, compelling tales of those who have fallen in between the cracks of a system that has left them behind.
With humour, and 36 original songs, we laugh, learn, and love along with a rag-tag bunch of characters who find resolution and fulfillment after years of drifting along an endless highway.