Acoustic guitarist/composer Gordon Quinton was born in Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland and Labrador and now lives in St. John’s. An innovative fingerpicking and flatpicking guitar stylist, he specializes in original compositions and arrangements of traditional and contemporary folk music. As a veteran artist participating in the province’s cultural life, Gordon today continues on his chosen path of musical exploration and expression, composing, performing and recording as a soloist and with others.
Coming from a musical family of accordion and fiddle players, Gordon was drawn to the acoustic guitar at a very early age after seeing one in a store window and hearing his brother Doug and his friends playing popular and country songs on their guitars. Influenced by the traditional accordion playing of his grandmother, Malena Best from Merasheen, Placentia Bay and country music on the radio, he soon taught himself to play a variety of instrumental tunes on the guitar. After much dedicated practice, Gordon debuted in public on a local live Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio show, Time Out for Teens. More public exposure followed with performances at wedding receptions for friends and family.
After moving to St. John’s in the mid-1960s, Gordon became a member of the local bands The Krystals and The Mountain Men, playing rock and roll and country music on electric lead guitar. Returning to the acoustic guitar a few years later, Gordon performed at numerous coffeehouse gigs with various folk singers and met Mary McKim, John Lacey and Boyd Norman, all of whom would join him in a group, Country Dream, along with other musical friends Dennis Browne and Neil Rosenberg. In 1970, Gordon, Boyd and John, as Ward Six, were invited by producer Tom Cahill to be the house band for a season on the well-loved local CBC television show, All Around the Circle.
Ward Six released an eponymous, nationally distributed album in 1971 to wide acclaim. Gordon has since produced nine instrumental guitar recordings, Guitar Songs, Woodnight Moon, Wildwood Flower, Sea-Winds: Original Guitar Music from Newfoundland, North Atlantic Dance, Molly Bawn: A Guitar Memoir, From a Christmas Guitar, The Yellow Sky, and A Guitar’s Story, the last seven independently distributed on his Woodnight Records label. He has also contributed musically on several recordings by local artists including John White, John Lane, Doug Lane, Johnny Cameron, Phyllis Morrissey, Shirley Montague, John Lacey, Craig Young and Larry Foley.
Over the years, Gordon has appeared on many local, national and international television and radio programs. Television appearances include On the Road Again, Time for Music, Out of the Fog, and Summerbreeze. He has also performed music for such well known shows as Land and Sea, Newfoundland Outdoors and The Twine Loft. Radio performances include Simply Folk, Going Solo, Musicraft, Counterpoint, Scene Around and Performance Hour. Gordon’s recordings have been featured on DiscDrive, Weekender, Gilmour’s Albums and on American Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corporation. They have received excellent reviews in national publications such as The Canadian Composer, The Canadian Folk Music Bulletin, The Record, and Country Music News, in the international magazines Sing Out! and Dirty Linen (USA), Chitarre and Folk Music Bulletin: Musica Danza Tradizione (Italy), Folker (Germany), and in music publications in Great Britain and the Netherlands. His music has also been used in local and national films.
Throughout his long career, Gordon has appeared in a wide variety of concerts including performances for HRH The Princess Royal of Great Britain, the Grand Falls-Windsor 2005 Centennial Founders’ Days Ceremonies, the CBC Radio Arts concerts, Sing a Song for Omar (a tribute to balladeer Omar Blondahl) and Sandy Morris: In Concert, produced by Glen Tilley, and the nationally broadcast CBC radio series DiscDrive. He also opened for and performed with American flatpicking guitarist Steve Kaufman at a concert sponsored by the Newfoundland and Labrador Bluegrass and Old Time Country Music Association, and took part in Live ‘n’ Pickin’, the 40th Anniversary celebration of the bluegrass group, Crooked Stovepipe, the George Street United Church Holiday Wassail Christmas concert, Jim Fidler’s RPM album release concert, both the Cape Spear and Cape St. Mary’s concert series and benefit concerts for the Protected Areas Association of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Festival dates include the Atlantic Folk Festival, the Lunenburg Folk Festival, and many performances at the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival where he collaborated in the Six String Nation Guitar Session. Others include the Trails, Tales and Tunes Festival, the March Hare, and the Cupids 400 celebrations. Gordon has also participated in several guitar workshops held by the St. John’s Folk Arts Council.
Conventions, private house parties, clubs, award ceremonies, art gallery events and weddings are among Gordon’s other live bookings.
Gordon has performed live with many of the province’s finest musicians and singers including Anne Devine, John Lacey, Boyd Norman, Bob MacDonald, Shirley Montague, Down East Country, Bill Rose, Fergus O’Byrne, Dermot O’Reilly, Sandy Morris, Eric West, John Lane, Craig Young, Boyd Chubbs, Crooked Stovepipe, Chris Hennessy, Ron Hynes, Jamie Snider, Dick Nolan, Rufus Guinchard, Jim Joyce, Phyllis Morrissey, Lloyd Bartlett, Ryan’s Fancy, Sons of Erin, Jim Payne and Rex Hemeon. A complete list would fill a great number of pages.
Gordon was awarded Instrumental Artist by the Music Industry Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (MusicNL) in 1997. He was honoured with MusicNL’s 2007 Instrumental Artist/Group of the Year award and was nominated for a 2007 Canadian Folk Music Award in the Instrumental-Solo category for his recording, The Yellow Sky. In 2013, Gordon received the Instrumental Artist/Group of the Year award from MusicNL for A Guitar’s Story.