I have been interviewing John Gorka off and on for almost three decades now. It’s always a pleasure to check in and find out how things are going. It was back in 2013 when last we chatted in conjunction with one of his trips to Maine for a show at Slates. When I learned he was returning, I thought it would be to Hallowell, but that is not the case — seems he’ll be at Johnson Hall in Gardiner on Friday, May 8. Seeing it had been 18 months since our last conversation, I asked for — and received — permission to call him at home in Minnesota and find out how things are going for this soft-spoken, talented singer-songwriter-guitarist.  

Concert info
John Gorka...............
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Date: Friday, May 8
Venue: Johnson Hall Performing Arts Center Address: 280 Water St., Gardiner
Tickets: $28 (Buy tickets here)
Phone: 582-7144

Websites: Johnsonhall.org johngorka.com

Q: So you’re coming back to Maine. Have you ever performed at Johnson Hall before?
Gorka: Ah, I don’t think so.

Q: That’s what I thought. Usually you’re at Slates. I think you’ll enjoy this Gardiner venue — it’s historic and has a warm, friendly vibe. Now, your latest CD, “Bright Side of Down” on Red House Records, came out in 2014, are you working on something new?
Gorka: Yeah, I got some songs recorded and I’ve started to work on some new things so I kind of have to gather the material all together. The first part of the year was kind of getting my home studio ready in technical ways, so I’ve shifted from a technical mode — which I’m halfway good at, which means it takes me longer than it should — to more of a playing mode.

Q: It means that when an inspiration comes along you can go right in and capture it while it’s fresh in your mind — all in the comfort of your own home.
Gorka: Right, but that’s family permitting — while the kids are at school.

Q: When you come up to Maine, it’ll be a solo show as usual?
Gorka: Uh-huh.

Q: Will you be playing some of the new material you’re working on now?
Gorka: Yeah, there will be a mixture of stuff. I’ll be playing quite a few songs from the latest record and at least four or five of the new material.

Q: Speaking of your kids, I have to ask if “Honeybee” — from “Bright Side of Down” — was written for them.
Gorka: Oh, yeah, that was written for my daughter and it was not a song I’d ever considered recording; it was just a song I would sing around the house or in the car. Then my wife mentioned that I had put songs for my son on records, but nothing for my daughter and that she might resent that someday. I didn’t know if this song would work, but at the end of a recording session I kind of ran through it once. That ended up being not only the first take, but the only take that we did, and it ended up on the record. It was kind of funny how these things come along.

Q: Is that something that happens often — getting the first take and keeping that?
Gorka: Not very often, no. Sometimes the songs are ready to go right away, you never know until you try.

Q: Do you have any idea when the album you’re involved with might be coming out?
Gorka: I’ll have to figure that out. It all depends on how the writing goes. This last record we did a little bit over a long period of time. This next one I think will be more of “get a lot done in a few days” — just because I haven’t done that in a while and it sounds like fun.

Q: Does doing it that way put more pressure on you?
Gorka: Yeah, there’s more pressure on getting stuff done. A little bit of pressure is a good thing, too much is not.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the readers of article about your upcoming trip up to Johnson Hall?
Gorka: Just that I’m looking forward to my show there. I’m also looking forward to going back to Slates someday. Oh, and one last thing: I’m glad it’s spring — just before you called I got my snowblower “summer-ized,” I didn’t have to use it much, only four or five times. (www.johngorka.com)

Lucky Clark has spent more than 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at luckyc@myfairpoint.net if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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