Gordon is a sought-after musician for contra dances. Fiddlers and other melody players appreciate the orchestral accompaniment that he provides, and callers appreciate the energy that his playing brings to the dance floor.
In concert settings, Gordon has established himself as an accompanist who is highly sensitive to the nuances of melody players and vocalists, whether it is Celtic music, folk, jazz, or blues. His playing stands out by virtue of complementing his fellow musicians.
He has also enjoyed developing a motif he refers to as “contra cocktail”, providing background music for social events, playing jazzy renderings of traditional fiddle tunes, intermixed with jazz standards and his own improvisations. He also provides joyful music for weddings - and funerals! He was recently asked to provide some preliminary funeral music all based on songs from Disney films. Anything is possible!
Gordon has taught piano workshops in a variety of settings, including music and dance camps such as Ashokan, Pinewoods. and the Augusta Heritage Center. He was on the staff of Maine Fiddle Camp for the June sessions in 2018, and will be returning in 2019.
Gordon's reputation as a piano player grew significantly during the ten years from 1985 to 1995 when he was playing with the late Kerry Elkin in the band Fresh Fish. During this time he also played with Rodney Miller, Randy Miller, and Skip Gorman in the New Hampshire Fiddlers Union, who played at the 10th annual Shetland Folk Festival.
In addition to performing, Gordon is a composer, arranger, workshop leader, and musical project organizer.
Gordon was a founding director of the Monadnock Folklore Society, which continues to present concerts in the Nelson Town Hall. For several years he was President of the Board of the Monadnock Center for History and Culture in Peterborough, where he launched the Music in Bass Hall concert series.
Gordon's working career included many years in the marketing and advertising for magazines, and being a business manager for a landscaping company. Now semi-retired, Gordon works a couple of days a week in the Harrisville General Store, does some freelance gardening, and is involved in various community projects.
Gordon’s current collaborators are perpetually informing his ever-evolving artistry. But special thanks and acknowledgement to the following, past and present:
No contra dance musician in the world is without debt to Bob, whose life-example was so inspiring. He reigned over New England dance halls for over 60 years, seldom deviating from his simple yet remarkably effective style of playing. A great piano player, composer of tunes, teacher, but perhaps most important - a man who did not pass judgement on others. He was and remains Gordon’s primary mentor.
Harvey was one of the first fiddlers Gordon played with. Gordon was absorbing more than he realized in those first few months, and he has enjoyed playing with him on many occasions over the years.
Perhaps Shetland’s equivalent to Bob McQuillen, Violet inspired Gordon first through her playing on the Silver Bow, and later, when he got to meet her in person.
Kerry, who with Gordon was the core of the band Fresh Fish, lit the fire of discipline and refinement under Gordon. They also enjoyed some wonderful and often ridiculous times together.
When Gordon’s son Spencer was 8 years old he asked for an electric guitar. Gordon found a small well-used acoustic guitar, strung it up for a left-handed player, and told him if he learned a few chords he would get an electric for his 10th birthday. He did, and almost instantly he knew how to play it. Over the next few years Spencer introduced Gordon to a lot of the blues and rock and roll he had missed has a result of being such a folky. As a result Gordon’s repertoire expanded into those genres. The current manifestation of that is the Paul Klemperer New Hampshire Ensemble.
Big Name Influencers
From teenage years - but remaining relevant: Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys for amazing orchestrations, The Beatles for revealing so many new musical doors, The Rolling Stones for driving energy, Oscar Peterson for tricks you don’t even know are happening, Vladimir Horowitz for his wild rendition of Beethoven’s Waldstein Sonata.
What’s Going On?
Gordon plays regularly for family dances at East Hill Farm in Troy, NH, and other camps and schools in the Monadnock Region.
Recent Good Times
September 18, 2019
Gordon and Keegan Zelko played music to open a meeting of the Governor and Executive Council, held in the Peterborough Town House. What a nice way to set a harmonious tone for the meeting.
August 26: I was thrilled to go down to the Tanglewood Learning Institute, on the Tanglewood campus in Lenox MA. Bonnie Bewick invited me to contribute some accompaniment to a recording she is doing with her brother Ken, and BSO bassist Larry Wolfe (Bonnie, Larry and I did a concert in Nelson last march). We recorded in the amazing Linde Center, with two incredible sound engineers: Marlan Barry and Damon Whittemore.
It was wicked hard work, and incredibly fun. I also got to connect with Tim Martyn, Director of Audio for Tanglewood, a childhood friend who I had not seen for probably 25 years.
Maine Fiddle Camp (June sessions) was fabulous. Great food, and an extraordinary community of musicians (teachers and campers).
Gordon co-taught the first weekend with David Stimson. For the week and second weekend he partnered the amazing Rachel Aucoin, and during the entire time, also had a wonderful class assistant, Alex Fortier.