Arts Feature: The King Weekly Sentinel by Mark Pavilons 

Singer-Songwriter Jon Brooks : An Interview

October 3, 2018  

By Mark Pavilons 

What most of us miss, Jon Brooks exposes. 

The accomplished singer-songwriter is more like a modern day standup philosopher, documenting the times. He’s a combination of George Carlin and Leonard Cohen.  That combination is perfect when it comes to creating contemporary music.  The King City native will return to his roots, with an upcoming performance Friday, Oct. 19 at Rockford’s in King City. Show time is 8 p.m.  Brooks…

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Jon Brooks' No One Travels Alone - A Pre-Release Review by Kerry Doole  


A songwriter with a rare gift for the poetic, Jon Brooks also possesses a ruggedly virile voice that is the perfect delivery vehicle for these well-crafted songs. They are connected by the corona (circular)  form, in which the last line of each song is the first line of the following song, and Brooks pulls off this feat with impressive ease. On "Proxima B," he namechecks such inspirations as Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Al Tuck, and Mary Margaret O'Hara, and this compelling album does them justice   -…

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Roots Music Canada: No One Travels Alone Preview  


Jon Brooks – “Todos Caminamos Por Este Caminito” 

 Heather Kitching 

 May 4, 2018 

“No One Travels Alone is a contrite apology to my 138 super fans the world over for 2014’s murder ballads album, The Smiling & Beautiful Countryside,” Jon Brooks told me in an email this week. 

I had to smile. 

Countryside hardly requires an apology, but I got the humour in what he was saying. 

If great art is defined as work that makes people think and makes them uncomfortable, then Jon’s last…

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Folk Roots Radio – Best Albums of 2015  

1. Jon Brooks – The Smiling & Beautiful Countryside (2015, Borealis Records) 

jonbrooks200Jon Brook’s 2012 album ”Delicate Cages” focused on themes of love and fear; and freedom and imprisonment. For the follow up, “The Smiling and Beautiful Countryside”, Jon turned his cynical eye on contemporary North American society in a world gone mad to produce an album of murder ballads the like of which you may never hear again – and one that gives up more and more with each listen. It was easy to make this my…

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The Ottawa Citizen 

Making the bodies count: Jon Brooks explores the dark traveller in new album

Singer-songwriter Jon Brooks set out to write a collection of Canadian murder ballads for his fifth and latest album, the Smiling and Beautiful Countryside, figuring he’d give a modern twist to a classic folk-song tradition. 

It’s twisted alright, hearing him sing in the voice of a killer, but the songs are brilliant, adding up to one of the most provocative albums of the past year. You’ll be fascinated by characters like Trevor…

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Jon Brooks at Oakville’s Moonshine Café - InsideHalton  

Toronto indie artist Jon Brooks is bringing his new collection of original, rural Canadian “murder ballads” to The Moonsine Café Wednesday (March 4). 

Brooks’ music circles around the Highway of Tears, Christine Jessop murder, domestic violence, mass shootings in the workplace, and the forced relocation of the Sayisi Dene near Churchill, Man., to name some of the subject matter of his songs on his ironically-titled The Smiling & Beautiful Countryside album. 

“With some eerie-sounding, back-water banjitar…

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The Chronicle Herald - Jon Brooks to offer Halifax listeners taste of new album at The Company House 

Jon Brooks brings songs from his new album The Smiling & Beautiful Countryside to Halifax’s Company House on Saturday night. 

The Toronto-based musician revisits the folk/blues tradition of the murder ballad, with a collection of several new and original rural tales of death and grieving, filtered through today’s headlines and Brooks’ own dark, literate sense of humour. 

Brooks’ shifting viewpoints range from the laissez-faire attitude of a Gun Dealer to the perpetrator of a workplace mass shooting, in…

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The Canadian murder ballads of singer-songwriter Jon Brooks  

By Justin Skinner 

With past albums delving into such heady topics as poverty in the inner city and war stories, it may not seem surprising that downtown-based singer-songwriter Jon Brooks’ newest work contains more humour than his past endeavours. What is surprising is that the humour is wrapped in another dark genre – Canadian murder ballads. 

Brooks’s latest album, The Smiling & Beautiful Countryside, offers social commentary while avoiding heavy-handedness or moralizing. 

“I wanted to basically do an…

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 by Kerry Doole 

For those of us lamenting the decline of the protest song in contemporary folk, Toronto troubadour Jon Brooks is a refreshing tonic. He’s an acerbic commentator on social and political issues, as he shows with great eloquence on The Smiling & Beautiful Countryside, his fifth album. 

Don’t let the title fool you; the landscape here is populated by serial killers, gunrunners and wife beaters, and the catalogue of horrors is rather unrelenting (his label’s bio jokingly notes the murder ballad…

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Sooke Voice News – Concert Review – by Mary P. Brooke 

On Saturday night of Easter weekend about 25 people in Sooke ~ mostly members of the Sooke 

Folk Music Society ~ experienced an intimate concert with Canadian singer-songwriter Jon Brooks. An essayist and master of his ‘pet’ guitar, Brooks profiles himself as a thinker, writer, traveller and ‘armchair theologian’ turned full-time songwriter (in 2010). He is already touring all over North America to small audiences of 20, mid-size of 200 (though he calls that big), and…

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Take an introspective music journey  

SOUTH RIVER – Singer-songwriter Jon Brooks says he doesn’t write “happy music.” 

The decision is for good reason. 

“It’s sort of an illiterate request,” said Brooks. “My aim is to inspire. I’m not in the business of taking people away from themselves. That’s the role of pop music.” 

Brooks said he writes music that takes people on the type of introspective journey so-called happy music could never conquer. 

“An hour of pop music could take you away from your life and make you happy for a bit, but when…

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The Toronto Star - Jon Brooks is the fighting sort of folk  

By Kenyon Wallace

Unlike most contemporary acoustic artists, Jon Brooks doesn’t mind being referred to as a folksinger. In fact, he embraces the label. 

“I do feel very much a part of the (folk) tradition, which is inherently subversive and always has been,” says the Toronto-based singer-songwriter. “I would not be justified in standing behind a microphone and adding to the glut of noise and vapid distraction if I didn’t believe I had some kind of moral purpose.” 

Brooks’ new album, Delicate Cages, is…

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Review: Fear is the Cage;Love is the Key  

Jon Brooks has an incredible ability to tell intensely personal stories with huge lessons: parables, in other words. His latest CD, Delicate Cages, demonstrates this with full force and a bold but simple theory: life is a series of cages largely built by fear, and love is the only tool we have to live with it. Lyrically this theme is obvious from the title of the record, Delicate Cages, taken from a Robert Bly poem: “Taking the hands of someone you love, You see they are delicate cages”. Bly’s sentiment not…

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Folk Roots/Folk Branches  

Delicate Cages, the fourth album in six years by Toronto-based singer-songwriter Jon Brooks, is an ambitious examination of some of the various “cages” of the human condition – some of them literal, some metaphorical, some of them based on real people, others drawn from the artists’ imagination, all of them, in one way or another, insisting that we look at the world, or, at least a small slice of it, through someone else’s eyes. 

The ethos of the album is established in “Because We’re Free,” the opening song…

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Penguin Eggs, Canada's Folk, Roots & World Music Magazine CD Review 


Since his first solo CD in 2006 Jon Brooks has delivered beautifully crafted and intricately literate songs based in his view of the world. A world which is a seemingly depressing and cruel place, but through his eyes, a world littered with shards of grace in amongst the glowing promise of hope that we humans have to cling to. 

With aptly sparse arrangements and help for his gritty down to earth voice from the likes of Lynn miles and Carrie Elkin, Delicate Cages delivers that and more as we follow his…

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Exclaim! CD REVIEW  

By Kerry Doole 

Those who like their folk sparse and laced with pointed social and political commentary should definitely check out this undervalued Toronto, ON singer-songwriter. Earlier albums, like his 2006 debut, No Mean City, and 2009’s Moth Nor Rust, hinted at a potential that’s fully realized on this fine release, Brooks’s fourth. His trademark powerful and often dark narratives are on vivid display, whether based on fact (the heartbreaking story of “The Lonesome Death of Aqsa Parvez”) or springing…

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London Free Press - Brooks shares his talent 

Scores of London region students will learn Wednesday how to fire up their songwriting from one of Canada’s top folksingers. 

Award-winning folkie Jon Brooks works with students at a Thames Valley District board conference at UWO affiliate King’s University College. Brooks’s session at the board’s SPARK! conference is about power of song as a form of social media. 

“The idea of singing about wherever there is violence and social inequity in the world, that to me is the essence of folk songwriting, and…

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The Londoner - Professional Musician Visits High Schools  

If folk music is meant to inspire change, Jon Brooks felt like he was in the right place recently when he was strumming his guitar in front of a class of Grade 11 and 12 music students at Sir Wilfrid Laurier secondary school. 

“We’re performing a brand of the folk song to, finally, the right audience,” said Brooks, a singer/songwriter based out of Toronto. “This is the audience I should be playing in front of all the time.” 

He is one of three acts taking part in the Home County Folk Festival Artists in…

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The Toronto Star - Where Have All The Protest Songs Gone?  

By Greg Quill Entertainment Reporter 

Entertainment Columnist 

Sometime in the late 1960s, Pete Seeger — in his prime with just a banjo and a 12-string guitar — stepped up to a single microphone on the concert stage of the Sydney Town Hall in Australia, and started singing. 

One after another, the simple yet profoundly affecting songs that moved a generation — a couple of generations, actually — poured forth like some kind of healing sacrament. 

“Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” “Turn, Turn, Turn.” “We…

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The Chronicle Herald - Brooks’s tuneful stories resonate 

Writer skilled at mixing emotional music with everyday, extraordinary tales 

By STEPHEN COOKE Entertainment Reporter 

Jon Brooks heads east this week for a series of Maritime dates. A conversation with authors and per­sonal mentors Barry Callaghan and Austin Clarke after a night of off-track betting on horse races made him rethink his decision to trade music for prose. 

Jon Brooks is in love with words and the power they possess. For the past five years the Ontario singer-songwriter has been using melody…

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