Folk Roots Radio Episode 607: feat. James Gordon In Conversation – When I Stayed Home

Folk Roots Radio Episode 607: feat. James Gordon In Conversation - When I Stayed Home

Guelph ON singer-songwriter James Gordon joins us on Episode 607 of Folk Roots Radio to chat about his pandemic release “When I Stayed Home”. Unable to bring anyone into the studio, James pretty much recorded the whole thing himself. However, making a new album was not the only thing that James Gordon has been up to during Covid lockdown. He also finished his novel “The Ark Of The Oven Mitt” (which includes a 36 song recording) and performed a virtual tour of his one-man show “James Gordon’s Emergency Climate Musical”. He also found time to kick cancer’s butt (Yeah, James!) and all while still working at his other job as a member of Guelph City Council. As you can imagine, we had lots to talk about, which is why we’ve decided to give the whole of this episode over to the interview. So, settle down and enjoy James Gordon… in Conversation on Folk Roots Radio. Check out the full playlist below.

Support the artists during Covid Times

Interview

James Gordon recorded his latest album, his forty somethingth’ (he’s actually lost track) in lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic. Unable to bring any musicians into the studio, James sang, played and recorded almost everything himself, including acoustic and electric guitar, banjo, mandolin, piano, bass, accordion, harmonica, tin whistle, ukulele, and percussion. That’s everything apart from some guest vocals from Tannis Slimmon, and clarinet from John David Williams.

A prolific songwriter, James Gordon lives to write – and like any James Gordon album the new recording covers lots of topics and includes songs about the pandemic, climate change and the environment, the income gap, racism, empathy and social justice alongside a nice tribute to a former bandmate, the late Molly Kurvink, who sadly left us in 2018.

Originally planned to be a twelve song recording, a thirteenth song was added while James was getting the album ready for release. That song, the powerful “We’ll Bring You Home” speaks to the shocking discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves belonging to unknown indigenous children at sites of former residential schools across Western Canada.

“We’ll bring you home, bring you home
So your names and your stories can be known
Bring you home, bring you home
We’ll give a voice to your dust and to your bones”

However, making a new album was not the only thing that James got up to while in lockdown. He also found time to complete his novel “The Ark Of The Oven Mitt” (which includes a 36 song recording, see below) and performed a virtual tour of his one-man show, “James Gordon’s Emergency Climate Musical”.

James also had a brush with cancer of the colon, for which he went through a surgical treatment protocol. He has just passed his one year anniversary, and everything seems to be going very well.

Meanwhile he continues with what he likes to call (in musical circles) his ‘side hustle’ as a city councillor in Guelph.

James Gordon will be releasing the new album at his first indoor show in 20 months, at Guelph’s Heritage Hall on November 24th. James will be joined by his two multi-instrumentalist sons Evan and Geordie, who have both recorded new albums of their own while in lockdown.

At the time of writing, we cannot provide any information on the new Evan Gordon album other than James describing it as electronica in the interview. However, Geordie Gordon‘s recording, “The Tower”, is his first solo album – an intimate synth and beat driven folk recording. It’s an excellent album, and a perfect fit for this radio show. Quite the departure for an artist more recently known for electronic pop (US Girls, Islands).

“The past year forced many of us into introspection due to an alienating, fear-inducing, plague-like illness but also — and it’s important not to leave this behind — because of racism, police violence, economic disparity, and civil unrest. The images and ideas and hidden truths we have been exposed to over the past year and change have angered and broken us but the response to such evil and hardship has also heartened and inspired us to not only do something, but to do more.”

We wrap the episode with two different songs entitled “The Great Divide”. James Gordon’s song is about the haves and have nots of our society, while son Geordie’s reminds us not to take for granted the privilege that we have to travel the world. They are both great. We’ll definitely dip back into Geordie’s album on a future episode.

If you’re not in the Guelph area, definitely check out James Gordon on his travels. You will not be disappointed.

An artist truly committed to making the world better for everyone, you can find James Gordon online at jamesgordon.ca.

The Ark Of The Oven Mitt

James Gordon - The Ark Of The Oven MittA 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 centre 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.

The Ark Of The Oven Mitt is available now as an audio book from jamesgordonmusic.bandcamp.com. Hard copy coming soon.

That’s all we have time for. Thanks to all the artists who share their music with us, and thank you for listening. We have lots of great music and interviews to bring you on future episodes.

If you enjoy the music we play on this show and want to support the artists – many of whom aren’t able to play live at the moment because of the Covid-19 pandemic, don’t just stream their music – that earns them much less than a penny per play. Instead, buy their music – and really make a difference to their income. They’ll love you for it!

Image credit: James Gordon.

Listen

You can listen to this episode again on Soundcloud by following the link below. You can also listen to episodes of Folk Roots Radio, on demand, via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Tune-in Radio. (Click on the highlighted link to reach your chosen platform.)

Playlist

Nicolas & The Iceni (Theme)
Lucy She Rises
Roll Right (2019, self)

James Gordon
When I Stayed Home
When I Stayed Home (2021, Pipe Street Records) CDN

Interview: James Gordon discussing his busy life in pandemic lockdown.

James Gordon
We Are Broken But We’ll Mend
When I Stayed Home (2021, Pipe Street Records) CDN

James Gordon
Moving Up To Awesome
When I Stayed Home (2021, Pipe Street Records) CDN

James Gordon
Love Is Our Best Chance
When I Stayed Home (2021, Pipe Street Records) CDN

James Gordon
Morning Glory
Songs From ‘The Ark Of The Oven Mitt’ (2021, Pipe Street Records) CDN

James Gordon
The Great Divide
When I Stayed Home (2021, Pipe Street Records) CDN

Geordie Gordon
The Great Divide
The Tower (2021, Victory Pool) CDN

About the author

JAN HALL

Host of Folk Roots Radio, Jan Hall started in Radio in 1993 at WEFT 90.1fm in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Folk Roots Radio (formerly Royal City Rag) debuted on CFRU 93.3fm in August 2005 before developing into a syndicated radio show. As the host of Folk Roots Radio, Jan focuses on bringing new folk, roots and blues music and the voices of upcoming and independent artists to the airwaves. Jan is also a much sought after stage host and festival emcee. In 2019, Jan Hall received Folk Music Ontario's prestigious Estelle Klein Award for her contribution to Ontario's folk music community.

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