For his exceptional contribution to the musical culture of our province, the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Arts Society is honoured to recognize Gordon Quinton as the 2022 recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award.
Gordon Quinton was born in Grand Falls-Windsor shortly after confederation; a time when the increased presence of Canada and the States was reshaping the cultural landscape of Newfoundland and Labrador. His first musical role model was his grandmother; a fine accordion player and singer whose influence instilled a lifelong love of traditional music – the music that became the fundament of his repertoire and style.
Through radio and TV he also came to love country, blues, folk, and instrumental guitar. In the 1960s and 70s he toured constantly, accompanying some of the province’s best- known performers. It’s impossible to list them all here, but they include Rufus Guinchard, Ryan’s Fancy, John Lacey, Phyllis Noseworthy, Shirley Montague, Ron Hynes, Dick Nolan and Joan Morrissey.
In the 1980s, Gordon decided to spend less time on the road so he could devote himself to composing and recording. He has nine solo instrumental guitar albums to his name, one album with Ward Six (now considered a rare collector’s item), and he has contributed his considerable talents to an extremely long list of local recordings. Gordon is currently a member of guitar supergroup, Fretboard Journey, with Duane Andrews, Craig Young, and Sandy Morris – and his body of work, both live and recorded, has influenced countless musicians in our province and beyond.
Gordon Quinton is a tradition bearer and a trail blazer. He has dedicated his life to forging innovative, emotive, and virtuosic instrumental guitar music that has multiple influences, yet carries a unique stamp that is unmistakeably his. There are a select few guitarists credited with the rare ability to capture the musical heritage of their cultures in their playing: Scotland has Tony McManus – England has Martin Carthy – and we have Gordon Quinton. Over the years, Gordon absorbed many of the musical influences that defined post-confederation Newfoundland and Labrador, and delivered them back to us, via his fingers, onto a six-string acoustic with virtuosity, depth, and soul.
By Jean Hewson
Photo by Patti Fulton