Having written more than a thousand songs, James Gordon might have some trouble picking a few for a concert set list. Luckily he’ll know what to draw on when he performs next week at the Registry Theatre: the offerings on his new CD, My Stars Your Eyes.
A prolific songwriter, Gordon is well known for his contribution to the folk genre. He was a founding member of the influential band Tamarack, a founder of the Hillside Festival held annually in Guelph, serving as its first creative director from 1985 to 1988, and started the Canadian Songwriters’ Festival.
He’s made numerous appearances on television and radio, having been a resident songwriter on CBC radio for 12 years, with weekly songs on shows including Basic Black. Gordon has released more than 40 albums as a solo performer and as a member of Tamarack.
With Tamarack, the songs are noted for their Canadiana, portraits of this country’s diverse landscape. He’s also written extensively about social justice and environmental issues. Now My Stars Your Eyes sees Gordon edging into love songs, something even he marved at during a telephone interview from his Guelph home, having just returned from a month-long tour of British Columbia.
“Yes, love songs, at this stage, if you can believe it,” he laughed, referring to his more than 30 years of performing.
Much of the album, however, deals with the larger issues of life.
“It looks at the question ‘how? It addresses the question, ‘how do you want to live? In these changing times, how do we adapt? How do we fit in?”
Those kinds of questions are great fodder for singer-songwriters, especially those in the folk vein. Perhaps that’s why he’s seen an increase in the number of younger artists with sensibilities harkening back to folkier times, perhaps with an alternative sound thrown in for good measure. Gordon points to indie rock bands such as the Great Lake Swimmers as an example.
Where the performers have gone, a younger audience has followed. So much so that he’s seeing a real mix – 20-somethings in seats alongside those 70-plus who would have been around for the big folk boom that included the likes of Pete Seeger – at his shows.
“There’s been a bit of resurgence in that type of music that’s crossing generational lines,” he said.
James Gordon’s CD release performance takes place Mar. 6 at 8 p.m. at the Registry Theatre, 122 Frederick St., Kitchener. Tickets are $18, available at the Centre in the Square box office by calling 578-1570 or toll free 1-800-265-8977 or online at www.centre-square.com.