Guelph singer-songwriter James Gordon uses his folk-pop music to share stories and effect change. Half of the proceeds from tonight’s show will be donated to the KW section of the Council of Canadians and the Region of Waterloo.
Guelph singer-songwriter and city councilor James gordon was in the middle of touring his one-man show, James Gordon’s Emergency Climate Musical, when the pandemic struck, bringing the tour to an abrupt end.
After a few months of shutting down, he started to think about how the show could continue.
“Climate change is not taking a vacation during the pandemic,” Gordon said. “I think I’ve found a way to still make it meaningful work despite the weird medium it’s featured on.”
In February 2021, he began the virtual tour of the show, giving one concert per week. Each show is created in conjunction with local sponsors, so the show is somewhat tailored to the city it is intended for, and fifty percent of the proceeds go to local charities.
Tonight 7:00 p.m. show is “in” Kitchener, and half of the proceeds will go to the Kitchener Waterloo Chapter of the Council of Canadians and the Waterloo Basic Income Region.
The live show was originally two hours long, but unwilling to induce further Zoom fatigue, Gordon shortened it to a one hour show with time for a Q&A afterwards. The show will also include videos, images and various talking points, as well as audience participation, to really engage people.
In fact, he says his “biggest thrill” in making these shows is audience participation.
“Part of the purpose of being an artist, I think, is that you want to simulate a conversation,” he said. And while online shows have their limits, he’s still able to engage with them virtually.
The first half of the show is devoted to laying out the issues at stake, and the second half is devoted to figuring out what can be done about them.
“And then towards the end, after sharing a lot of information, with my help, the audience writes a song themselves. So I just set up a digital blank sheet of paper and we start thinking. That means they’re part of the show as well, and that’s pretty fun, ”he said.
Having the shows online also means that while each show is offered in a different city, people can participate from anywhere in the world. A few weeks ago he said that people in British Columbia and the Maritimes were watching a show he was doing “in” Hamilton.
The title of the show comes from the events that unfolded in his political career. Gordon said he brought forward an emergency climate motion “to declare ‘yes, we know there is an emergency’. And although Guelph is a fairly progressive city, the motion did not pass, ”he said.
Not wanting to accept a response, Gordon decided to change his method.
“As a politician, I can stand up and give a speech about it, but it’s boring, so being able to use the media that I have, I think it would bring issues to life, especially online. , I don’t think everyone wants to just sit back and watch a guy play his guitar on a screen all by themselves, so improvements with videos and things are ways to liven it up and keep people engaged ” , did he declare.
Gordon has worked in the music industry for 40 years and has released over 40 albums – which he says he can’t stop doing.
“[Songwriting] was not my choice. It just seemed to happen, I’ve always done it, ”he said.
His self-proclaimed roots-pop-folk music has a unique twist, as he focuses on collecting stories and producing content based on them.
“I don’t tend to write a lot about myself. I often talk about issues related to the environment or Canadian identity or heritage, and because I have this little gig as a politician, my music also has to get a little political, ”he said. .
This emphasis on storytelling has played an important role in his career since the late 1970s, when Gordon performed in Canadian folk group Tamarack.
“Our mandate seemed to be to tell Canadian stories,” he said. Touring across Canada, audience members often approached them afterwards, wanting to share their own stories.
“I feel like part of my job is to reflect these [stories] to give a voice to issues and people who are otherwise unknown, ”he said, adding that he was happy if he left a show knowing that only one audience member had decided to reduce his footprint or join a local organization that can contribute to change.
While people might expect a conference on climate change and environmental stewardship, he noted his performance falls short.
“First and foremost, I recognize the value of entertainment – I want to make you laugh, I want to make you cry, I want to make you think, and that means I have to put on a good show too,” he said. he declares. .