Bok grew up in Camden, Maine, where he started singing and playing guitar at an early age, inspired by both his musical family and his coastal environment. He worked on or near the water much of his earlier years, in shipyards and on sailing vessels, serving in every capacity from dishwasher to captain. As the original first mate on the sloop “Clearwater”, he toured the New England coast with the Hudson River Sloop Singers.
Bok’s music is largely self-taught. He learned many of his songs and stories from the people he worked with and continues to do so. He performs on 6- and 12-string guitars as well as the “cellamba” – a cross between a cello and a bass viol da gamba – which he designed himself. He also sings a cappella, plying the resonant bass-baritone voice that has become a Bok trademark.
His repertoire consists of a rich trove of ballads of Maine and the Maritimes, songs and dances from abroad, stories of boats and sailors, tales of seal-folk and cantefables of his own composition, contemporary songs and guitar instrumentals.
He has recorded over twenty albums, both solo and with other musicians, and performs at folk clubs, concert halls and festivals throughout the U.S., Canada, Great Britain and Scandinavia. He has appeared in concert with the Paul Winter Consort and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and on the radio program, “A Prairie Home Companion”.
In the words of one critic, “If the sea had a voice with which to sing, it would be the voice of Gordon Bok.”