Finding His True Voice

 

 American Folk Musician John Gorka Visits Southport

STORY BY: KATHLEEN McGOWAN

 

In the early days, John Gorka studied Philosophy and History at Moravian College in eastern Pennsylvania. It was there, in Bethlehem, where he discovered Godfrey Daniels coffeehouse.

The coffeehouse was one of the oldest and most revered music institutions in Bethlehem, and has long been a hangout for music lovers and budding musicians.

Originally from New Jersey, John Gorka, is a Contemporary American folk musician which, in 1991, Rolling Stone magazine called “the preeminent male singer-songwriter of what has been dubbed the New Folk Movement.” “The people who inspire me are the ones who have done more with less, and have gone farther, with more in their way” said Gorka.

It wasn’t long before Gorka was living in the club’s basement and working as a host and soundman when he crossed paths with legendary folk musicians like Claudia Schmidt, Stan Rogers, Tom Paxton and Eric Andersen. Their style of folk-inspired acoustic music impressed him and before long he was performing his own songs as an opener for acts passing through. Soon Gorka started traveling to New York City and was inspired by the area’s historical culture as a breeding ground for many leading singers and songwriters.

In 1984, Gorka was one of six winners in the New Folk competition at the Kerrville Folk Festival and his original songwriting skills began turning heads. Since then he has regularly toured Europe and North America.

Red House Records recognized John’s talents in 1987, and released his first album, I Know, and he never slowed down. He signed with High Street Records in 1989 and went on to record five albums with High Street over the next seven years while touring about 150 nights a year.

His rich adaptable songs and dry sense of humor have gained popularity and respect from audiences and critics across the country and in Europe. His tours led him through Italy, Belgium, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, Switzerland and Germany. Before long he was touring with notable friends like Nanci Griffith and Mary Chapin Carpenter and the video for his single “When She Kisses Me” became a regular on VH-1’s “Current Country,” and the Nashville Network.

In 1998, after five successful recordings, John decided to return to his musical roots at Red House where he released his 11th studio album So Dark You See. And it’s proven to be his most compelling and traditional album to date.

Gorka has appeared with Suzanne Vega, Shawn Colvin, Michael Manring, Christine Lavin and Dave Van Ronk just to name a few and his songs have been recorded and/or performed by Mary Chapin Carpenter, Nanci Griffith, Mary Black and Maura O’Connell. He has graced the stage of Austin City Limits, NPR’s Mountain Stage and has appeared on CNN.

In March 2014, Gorka released the acoustic CD, Bright Side of Down containing 12 beautiful songs with guest appearances by Eliza Gilkyson, Lucy Kaplinsky, Claudia Schmidt and Michael Johnson. The collection echoes with his classic sound and passionate wisdom that has earned him generations of faithful fans.

With that said, Listen Up Brunswick County has been trying to book the incomparable John Gorka since their first season began. His availability is very limited so, this event is a special pre-season show to be held at the Southport Senior Center on Sunday November 15th at 7:00 PM. The regular season starts in January. Listen Up Brunswick County is a non-profit organization bringing Americana Artists to Brunswick County while promoting good works in Brunswick County – GOOD MUSIC / GOOD DEEDS. Each season the net proceeds are donated to a special organization that provides direct services to Brunswick County residents in need. Look them up at www.listenupbrunswickcounty.com.

As a pre-season event, all proceeds will benefit The Music Maker Relief Foundation; a 501c3 non-profit, founded to preserve the musical traditions of the South by directly supporting the musicians who make it, ensuring their voices will not be silenced by poverty and time. Music Maker will give future generations access to their heritage through documentation and performance programs that build knowledge and appreciation of America’s musical traditions. Find out more about Music Maker at www.musicmaker.org

“John is a remarkable, world-renowned singer/songwriter and storyteller. We hope he will perform his song, “I’m from New Jersey.” All of you with Jersey roots and/or connections will certainly enjoy it.” remarked Jeannie Dufour, President, Listen Up Brunswick County.

Please save the date, check out John’s biography and listen to a song or two at www. johngorka.com.

My personal favorite is Aging Gracefully, which he says he wanted to be nonfiction, as he croons about growing old.

People my age / Have started looking gross / I cannot say all / And I shouldn’t say most / I’ve seen ‘em in the grocery / I’ve seen ‘em up close / And People my age / Have started looking gross – John Gorka, from Aging Gracefully

Check out John Gorka on Sunday, November 15TH at 7:00 p.m. at the Southport Senior Center, 1513 N Howe Street, Suite 3 in Southport. Tickets are $24.00 and available at Cattail Cottage and The Fuzzy Peach. Doors open at 6:30 Beer & wine available for purchase before and during show.

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