John Gorka

John Gorka

Jun 23, 2012 |  3 comments
Date: Jun 23, 2012 Time: 8:00 PM Price: $20 in advance, $25 day of show Type: singer/songwriter/Folk

John Gorka was born in Newark, NJ on a Sunday in July, 1958 under Eisenhower skies. He grew up in Colonia, NJ and at age ten got his first guitar as a Christmas present. Before John’s fingers were strong enough to press the strings down his older brother claimed the guitar for himself. and carved his name in it. The younger Gorka never recovered from this blow. A few years later he took up the banjo to retaliate. The family was never the same. In high school Gorka started writing songs and singing with a church folk group. When he moved away from home to go to Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA, he started performing in the school coffeehouse programs and the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band, a non-traditional bluegrass, country, blues and folk band. Future songwriter and recording artist Richard Shindell was asked to join the band as the lead guitar player when the others learned he could play Black Magic Rag. Fellow Spasm member Doug Anderson took Gorka to a coffeehouse that had just opened on the south side of Bethlehem, PA called Godfrey Daniels. It was there Gorka discovered the kind of performer he wanted to become. He went to shows when he could afford them and regularly performed at the open stage nights. He later hosted the open mikes and volunteered as MC, sound man, usher and counter worker. By the early 80’s he was the virtual house opening act at Godfrey Daniels and many of the people he met and opened for there went on to open doors for him in other parts of the country, among them, Nanci Griffith, Bill Morrissey, Claudia Schmidt and Jack Hardy. Griffith encouraged him to enter Kerrville Folk Festival’s New Folk Competition, which he won in 1984. Hardy invited him to record for the Fast Folk Musical Magazine and introduced him to the revitalized Greenwich Village folk scene.

In addition to his 11 critically acclaimed albums, John released a collector’s edition box featuring a hi-definition DVD and companion CD called The Gypsy Life. Windham Hill also released a collection of John’s greatest hits from the label called Pure John Gorka. In 2010, he also released an album with his friends and Red House label-mates Lucy Kaplansky and Eliza Gilkyson under the name Red Horse. Getting high praise from critics and fans alike, it landed on the Billboard Folk Charts and was one of the most played albums on folk radio.
Many well known artists have recorded and/or performed John Gorka songs, including Mary Chapin Carpenter, Nanci Griffith, Mary Black and Maura O’Connell. John has graced the stage of Austin City Limits, Mountain Stage, etown and has appeared on CNN. His new song “Where No Monuments Stand” is featured in the upcoming documentary Every War Has Two Losers, about activist and Oregon  Poet Laureate William Stafford (1914-1993).

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  1. Wayne Prince says:

    Wonderful artist as he teams with others, but by himself he may be even better. He’s a great writer and interpets his lyrics in a very poetic manner. Richmond needs to come out to see this prolific songwriter, who like wine is gets better with age.

  2. Wayne Prince says:

    Another great nite at the Ashland Coffee and Tea! John’s music was great, he was approachable, funny and with a kind spirit. The crowd loved him and the service was on the mark.

    Wayne Prince

    • ACT says:

      Thank you so much, Wayne! It was a great show, for sure…

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