BEAVER CREEK, Colorado — Popular folk singer John Gorka is celebrating the chart-topping success of his newest album, “Red Horse.” Gorka brings his rich baritone voice and unique songcraft to the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek on Saturday night. He recently took the time to answer a few questions for the Vail Daily.
When did you first become interested in music?
I always liked music growing up but never thought of it as a way to make a living. I first wanted to play bluegrass and melodic style banjo. I picked up guitar about six months after starting on the banjo. My brother showed me some chords and lent me a guitar to play. I knew I wanted to be a writer before I realized that chasing after songs was going to be the route I'd take. With songs I can combine what I can articulate in the lyrics with what I can't find words for, but still can express with sound and music. That is what I'm still chasing after: the sound of the feeling.
What do you enjoy most about performing?
I like what happens in a show with the audience. We are making a new experience together. It's not just them watching me sing. They are creating the show, too. It is a concert. I generally don't have a set list. I try to do the song that is right for the moment. Sometimes people will call out a song that is better than the one I thought of doing next. So, I try to be flexible and allow for that kind of thing to happen.
For people that may not be familiar with your music, how would you describe the style of music you perform and sing?
I come from the folk and acoustic world. I mostly sing my own songs. I don't know if what I do is folk music, but I try to write songs that people will find useful in their own life, useful to their heart.
Do you write all of your original songs? What inspires your lyrics?
Mostly, I sing my own songs. The inspiration for a song can come from anywhere. Mostly I try to write about what it is like to be human, trying to capture a feeling — even if it's one that doesn't last very long. Just because a feeling passes doesn't mean it was not important.
What type of guitar do you play?
I usually play a Martin OM-28 VR. The OM stands for Orchestra Model and the VR stands for Vintage Reissue. It's a good guitar for fingerpicking and strumming.
If you could meet any musician, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
Frank Sinatra — I met him in my dreams a few times. I would like to talk to him about the songs he chose to sing, what grabbed him about a song and what it felt like when he was singing.
Tell us more about the “Red Horse” record.
The “Red Horse” record was a project that was a way to have fun with friends (Eliza Gilkyson and Lucy Kaplansky) who were also songwriters. The three of us had never sung together before. I had sung with Lucy. I had sung with Eliza. Lucy had sung with Eliza, but never all of us at once.
It started out as an excuse to hang out and do some shows together. It turns out that our voices blend pretty well and people seem to really like the record. We laugh a lot when we are together. We each sing lead on four songs. We sing one of each other's songs, one of our own and a cover song. The harmonies are the element that brings the project together in my opinion.
We worked really hard on our parts — I know I did.
If you go …
John Gorka live in concert.