Gorka (photo Mike Wittner)...........................................
- Folk music comes in two forms: upbeat and hopeful, or dreary
Gorka settled near the top of the latter form long ago, and though
he seems to be trying, he hasn’t given up his roost there.
one reason or another my songs have that kind of underlying melancholia
about them. Maybe it is the place that I write from, or maybe
it just comes out that way. It is definitely an element of my
sound,” he said during phone interview from his Minnesota home.
“It is melancholia, but I think it is hopeful melancholia. ...
I don’t know if it is the nature of folk music, but it is true
for what I do.”
underneath his gruff exterior lurks an optimism that resembles
folk’s lighter side, a sunny happiness that everything works out
in the end, even if a song must travel through hell to get there.
This, along with the genre’s unwavering ability to broach any
subject, attracted him to the idea that folk was a viable musical
“I started to feel this was an honest path to making music,” he
recalled of his early experiences watching folk singers in local
coffee shops, particularly the Godfrey Daniels Coffee House in
Bethlehem, Pa., where he was a regular and later performed. “The
people who were my favorites there were uncompromising (in their
approach). It seemed more like literature. I was discovering this
world and it seemed like there was more possibilities for songs
in this genre than any other I knew. ... It was a chance for more
Gorka picked up an acoustic guitar, established his distinctive,
gravelly voice and quickly became one of the pre-eminent folk
performers in the United States. His music is direct, honest,
brutal at times, and occasionally depressing and painful, like
waiting in line at the soup kitchen, only to have it run out of
am not saying ‘Oh, woe is me.’ But I think there is a solitary
spot in all humans.