James Gordon July Newsletter
Hi folks… Happy July!
Down here at the summer palace we’re having a drought. If it doesn’t rain, it doesn’t pour either.
I am thrilled to report that my new album “Sunny Jim” is catching on across North America. Even though it was only released to radio stations in the middle of June, it made it to #2 in Canada for airplay in the folk/roots genre. In the United States its sitting at #24 with some heavy competition… I’m just a few spots back from my songwriting hero Paul Simon! The CD launches were lots of fun. Thanks to all who came out. You can buy it directly from Borealis Records OR you can find it on iTunes, Amazon, all those sites that get a fella’s work out there and gaurantee pennies in royalties 🙂
I hope you check it out. There are a couple of videos on the way too. The success of the album has led to some more touring plans. Out west in the fall, U.S in the winter and points in between. Let me know if you can think of where I could play in your town!
Here’s me playing on Canada Day in Guelph’s own Riverside Park. I’m wearing my Canada hat but I’m noticing that, really, Donald Trump has ruined baseball caps forever!
This month I’m working on a new project that has been ongoing but I’m going to spill the beans now. I’m writing a new musical play with my friend and neighbour Katherine Wheatley! It’s called “Hey Amanda” and we’ll be ready to tour it in the winter. We’ve been songwriting collaborators for a long time, but this is our most ambitious project. I can’t wait for you to hear and see it! It’s a theatrical work, but it’s just the two of us, ( no puppet this time), so we think we could present it in smaller venues as well as the big theatres that uppity rock stars like us are used to.
I only have one show coming up later this month, but it’s kind of cool too. I’m performing a short set of jazz standards (!!) at the Lowville Festival in, yes, Lowville Ontario ( North of Burlington) on Friday July 22nd. My accompanist will be the legendary David Warrack on piano. Another new musical adventure. There’s more info at Lowvillefestival.com
That same weekend, July 22-24th is the Hillside Festival here in Guelph. There are still some tickets left for this, one of Canada’s greatest summer festivals. Acts this year include Buffy Sainte-Marie with the Sadies, Rose Cousins, The Lemon Bucket Orchestra, Land of Talk, and the McGarrigle Family! For my small part I’ll be helping with the Sunday children’s parade,which I’ve been doing off and on for more than thirty years! Folks, there’s bigger competition in festival land from the big corporate fests like Way Home, so I’m hoping you’ll come out and support this great home grown community celebration! Check it out at HillsideFestival.ca
TOMORROW- (thursday) I’ll be live on the air on CFRU radio here in Guelph at 5:30 interviewed by Adam Donaldson. Tune in if you can..
August I’ll be taking off to cruise the rivers onboard the Eramosa Belle… so we’ll catch you in the fall again.
Thanks as always for listening and reading….I’ll try to keep up on jamesgordon.ca and you can find me on facebook or Twitter (#thatjamesgordon) ( not to be confused with all the other JGs)
Since we’re just past Canada Day, here’s a tale from many years around bringing Canadian folk music to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas Texas!
Have a great summer
Road Tale of the Month:
The Cotton Bowl
This is the largest place I’ve played. It’s in Dallas, Texas, and I
performed there with Maple Sugar as part of the Texas State Fair, which was billed, like everything else in the state, as the “WORLD’S LARGEST.” The fair was having a special tribute to Canada, so we were asked to perform our
“genuine Canadian music” there. We were treated like visiting royalty. Limos back and forth from the gigs to the hotel, complete with police escorts and people shooting guns on the street outside the hotel, just to impress us foreigners.
They took us to a bar, which of course was the world’s largest, and there we met the world’s largest baseball star, Mickey Mantle, who by this point (or at least on that night), was the world’s drunkest baseball star. One of my bandmates introduced himself. Mickey slurred: “Too bad you didn’t bring
your frigging camera!”
We appeared on a local TV show. One of the other guests that day was a singer who evidently considered himself to be the WORLD’S GREATEST ENTERTAINER. He was upset that some of my band members had never heard of him; he kept pointing to his chest and exclaiming, “But I’m B..J. Thomas!” and to prove it, he launched into a bit of his biggest hit, “Raindrops Keep
Falling On My Head.” This song meant nothing to the un-impressed Quebecois fiddlers and Ottawa Valley step-dancers we were traveling with.
I ate a corn dog , a local delicacy, and got the World’s Largest Case of Food Poisoning.
The highlight of the trip, though, was our performance in the Cotton Bowl, the WORLD’S LARGEST football stadium. Why, it was as long as a football field! They had arranged a special Canadian Extravaganza as the climax to their “Salute to Our Neighbours from the North” week.. They laid it on as thick as Texas Toast. We were the “closing act.”
We set up on a tiny stage in the middle of the field. We waited on the sidelines while the “warm-up activities” happened. First, the U.S. Marine Corp Band marched onto the field, playing what they claimed was a medley of Canadian tunes, though none of them sounded familiar to us. Then a sort of pageant/parade ensued, with costumed dancers and actors walking around
the track, each group behind a giant flag of each Canadian province. Over the WORLD’S LOUDEST LOUDSPEAKER an announcer explained each province’s customs and traditions, and introduced the appropriate song played by the
marine band.. I remember that they got a couple of provinces mixed up, but they did their best.
The Maritime provinces were easy. Fisher folk in bright yellow slickers marched by to the music of “The Sailor’s Hornpipe.” An “Anne of Green Gables” impersonator strolled by. A mockup of the Bluenose sailed past, representing Nova Scotia. Quebec was a little problematic. The French connection was obvious, but what song would they play? Canoeing voyageurs paddled past to the tune of “I Love Paris in the Springtime!”
Ontario was recognized for Toronto’s CN tower, dear to the hearts of Texans because it’s the WORLD’S LARGEST something. So naturally, the band played “On A Clear Day You can See Forever.”
Manitoba was really tough.
The announcer offered this: “Since we’re here in the WORLD’s LARGEST football stadium, we’d like to acknowledge the WORLD’S GREATEST Game — football. Manitoba is famous for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers team. Here is the theme song from the 1971 football movie “Brian’s Song,” about a football
player who dies.”
Saskatchewan, recognized for it’s flatness, got “Blue Skies” by Willie Nelson, who I am presuming is from Saskatoon or thereabouts. Alberta was lucky: it got an American Cowboy song, and British Columbia kind of got lost in the hoopla as the next event was already starting. At the upper reaches of
the “Bowl”the provincial flags were again represented, this time with a noisy round of fireworks, which might have had more impact had it not been two
o’clock in the afternoon.
It had significantly more impact on the crowd than the next part though, which was us! We bravely took the stage, launched into a fiddle tune, and got part way through when someone kicked out an extension chord somewhere
and we were playing our little Canadian hearts out in the middle of the WORLD’S LARGEST concert venue in total silence!