About


Short Bio & Hi Res Photos

Howard Gladstone has released his fourth album, “Roots and Rain” aided by talented musicians who help breathe life into a suite of original songs.

Follow the MUSIC link on this website, listen to some samples, come to a gig, decide on the basis of what you hear and experience to download or buy a CD.

Gladstone is a convincing solo performer, gigging in and around hometown Toronto. He often appears in duo with guitar virtuoso Tony Quarrington, or violinist Shelley Coopersmith, who further flesh out the modalities and melodies. Add the full band and the music goes other places.

Howard co-founded & produced the Toronto City Roots Festival from 2004-2010, as well as presented four annual concerts at Hugh’s Room, and a monthly concert series at the famous Cameron House.

“Here’s a song inspired by a sunrise I observed in Varanasi, India, the holy city on the Ganges.” Not your typical song introduction.  That’s because Howard Gladstone is not your typical singer-songwriter.  Careful though, he could fool you. If you were in a club or listening music venue, at first blush, you could get that folky troubadour vibe from Howard. He’s certainly got that intricate, melodic finger-picking down to where the guitar is a natural extension of his hands.  Not that he will admit it. Damn, he still occasionally writes and performs political, socially conscious material that is contemporary. Who does that? Folky or not, very few.

As the first couple of melodies lure you in, delivered in a comfortable Cohen-esque croon, the range of Gladstone’s curiosity, musically, lyrically, begins to take shape.  He can’t help himself from unleashing a bluesy groove. The oft-plainspoken vocal style finds the appetizing curves of a tune and can’t resist holding a few notes a little longer, singing-out, inviting you to participate.  Truth is, he’s travelled the world, and written about it.

As a student in 1969, Howard had the opportunity to interview Robbie Robertson (you should ask him about it; I would). Just a few years younger, it’s far less of an eager reporter looking to make a mark, and more of a conversation, revealing more than a series of hard-hitting questions would, and giving us a glimpse into the man behind the songs. This approach served Gladstone well back then, and it continues to do so.

We could talk at length about the variety in Gladstone’s material. The satire of being South of the Border.  The globalization and corporate indifference of Goin’ Offshore. The black humour of spending Six Weeks In A Plaster Cast. The beautiful ache when you Fall So Deep into a dream that’s come true. Surveying the history of the blues, Down In The Delta, a rapidly changing southern environment where casinos are replacing sharecropper’s cabins.  There is always the studious crafting of the songs, told with a journalist’s detail and a film-maker’s eye, but Howard pulls us in by keeping things on a personal level, where the singer, the voice, is never far from the action and the consequences they bring. That’s where the Gladstone magic really happens, his brush swirling the colours around. Taking us to Kauai, painting us the Technicolor scene, and then pushing it to the background to remind us what happens when two people are alone together in the moonlight.

About his first CD, Sunflowers Light the Room, the late, revered songwriter Norm Hacking wrote, “This CD is, in the end, a generous and heartfelt invitation to join a sincere, insightful artist on an uncompromising journey of passage and revelation.  It’s all about the moments that heal, and unite, and help to fuel the light.” The following two releases found Gladstone continuing that journey, while exploring recording technique and environment, personnel and stylistic opportunity. The culmination of those endeavours lay in his latest recording effort, Roots and Rain, where those healing moments resonate more deeply, the production and musical collaboration moving in-step with the singer and the songs, and Gladstone rewarding listeners with his truest expression to-date.

As a solo performer, Howard Gladstone is eager to engage the audience, revealing the stories, inspiration and experiences that gave birth to the songs, and equally keen to find out what the audience knows, as much as sharing what he has uncovered. This approach carries over to the countless shows he’s done with a variety of band formats, duo’s, trio’s, etc.  Gladstone uses the written songs as a starting point, inviting his musical accomplices to continue the exploration he’s begun, seeing what else can be found.

No one has found more than in Howard Gladstone’s music than producer/guitarist Tony Quarrington. Without question, on most nights, you could walk into a Toronto-area club, and hear Quarrington play invigorating, imaginative guitar. Between Howard and Tony there exists an authentic chemistry. It reaches beyond the four albums they’ve made together, or the slew of live appearances. It’s not just that they can match each other musical style for musical style. Quarrington shares an acute understanding, both lyrically and musically, of the Gladstone material. In return, Howard seems to sense when Tony is the verge of doing something beyond his usual extraordinary, motioning for another round, sending Tony into unchartered-waters. The result is usually the room’s collective jaw dropping. The kind of experience that refuses to be replicated.

He digs the blues. And jazz. And rhythm. And country. And rock. And hooks. And sing-alongs. And they all find their way into his music, both overtly and subtlety. He plain just digs music.  I guess most singer-songwriters do.  Howard was a co-founder of the Toronto City Roots music festival that ran from 2004-2010. How many singer-songwriters co-found a music festival? Not many. But then again, Howard Gladstone is not your typical singer-songwriter. Thankfully.

-written by Kevin Zarnett (who also acted as recording engineer, and played bass guitar on two of Howard Gladstone’s albums).  

 

 

 



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