Gorka brings male
viewpoint to largely female folk genre
Greeley Tribune, February 18, 1993
By Matthew Anderson, Tribune Staff Writer
Folk singer John Gorka's next stop on the "Temporary Road" will be the Union Colony Civic Center in Greeley for a concert Feb. 26.
Gorka describes his latest album, "Temporary Road," as a collection of "songs of love and war, with a secondary theme of crime and punishment."
Praised by Rolling Stone magazine as "the pre-eminent male singer/songwriter of what's been dubbed the 'New Folk Movement,'" Gorka, 34, remains soft-spoken about his talents.
"They made the male/female distinction, I think, because of Suzanne Vega and Tracy Chapman and Michelle Shocked," Gorka said of the genre that has been dominated by female talent. "But as for the guys, other people who do basically what I do kind of ran away from the term 'folk music' so it left me standing by myself."
Folk music is synonymous with such 1960s artists as Arlo Guthrie, John Prine and Bob Dylan. The New Folk Movement is "related, but not the same," Gorka said.
The new music upholds the tradition of having a social conscience and an acoustic-based sound, but it involves a wave of singer/songwriters, influenced by folk music, coming into their own as recording artists.
While studying history and philosophy at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Penn., Gorka found musical inspiration at Godfrey Daniels, a coffeehouse and folk club.
After receiving his big break as an opening act for Jack Hardy, one of the founders of the original Speakeasy club in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, Gorka went to New York.
Gorka's first recordings were made possible through Hardy's Fast Folk Musical Magazine, a monthly publication that includes a full-length album. The albums featured unknown artists the big labels weren't interested in, including Vega.
After several years of touring, performing and recording, Gorka still feels most comfortable when he's writing his material.
"I'm attracted to it, but it still scares me to perform," the singer said.
The Boston Globe applauds Gorka for "the biggest, most gorgeous baritone in folk music today" and commented that the folk artist is "a master of the sublimely turned phrase and the plush melody."
"I write about things that I feel strongly about," Gorka said, "so I'm hoping that if I write about things that move me, they'll move other people as well.
"I'm interested in the dark side of people and the things that cause them to cross over the edge," Gorka said. He hopes when people facing tragic situations hear his music, they won't feel alone.
Tickets for the 8 p.m. concert are $10.50 for adults and $8.50 for students and seniors. Tickets are available at the UCCC and all TicketMaster locations.
At 6:30 p.m., "Café Cabaret," in the Two Rivers Lounge at the Center, offers an opportunity to meet Gorka prior to the show and includes wine, hors d'oeuvres and dinner. Reservations for the $20 "Café Cabaret" package are required.