Folk artist John Gorka will road test material at Kent Stage show
By John Benson
Wednesday, April 03, 2013
music has long been considered the fabric of America, with a new
block or square added to this familiar and comforting quilt every
generation or so.
was nearly 30 years ago when John Gorka emerged onto the late ’80s
scene with his soulful baritone voice and warm acoustic guitar sound
placing him alongside the likes of new folk movement artists Suzanne
Vega, Bill Morrissey, Nanci Griffith, Christine Lavin and Shawn
the Minnesota resident is hoping to once again redefine himself
after 2009 effort “So Dark You See,” which saw him returning to
his roots with his most traditional album to date. As for his upcoming
new project, due out in 2014, he’s taking the same approach.
album is a bookend to the last one,” Gorka said. “The approach is
very similar. I want the overall sound to be built around the vocal
and guitar performances, because that’s mostly how people see me.
If I can get good performances and if I can accompany myself well
on the guitar, keyboard or whatever I’m playing, that’s kind of
the focus. In a way, I guess I’m putting more pressure on myself
to become a better player.”
characterizes the new album as thematically tackling issues of mortality
and a longing for spring.
Where the yet-to-be-released project differs from any of his previous
11 studio efforts is in the preproduction. In the past Gorka’s musical
journey began in the studio, but this time out the veteran musician is
pulling back the curtain for fans to see his approach by road-testing
material. For example, at his show April 5 at the Kent Stage, Gorka may
perform the Richard III-inspired song “The Last Plantagenet King.” (You
may remember the King’s skeletons were reportedly found under a parking
lot in England not so long ago.)
Playing unreleased tunes is a new experience for Gorka, who is basing
the idea around the notion of a comfort zone.
“I don’t think there is any comfort zone, and there has never been a comfort
zone,” Gorka said. “It’s just a different way of doing things. I still
need to do all of the songs I would like to do and that people would want
to hear. So it’s difficult in some ways. But in order to make a new record,
I’ve got to make it as good as the best of the old stuff. So I’m kind
of competing with myself.”
Gorka said as far as he’s concerned, his live show offers the best representation
of his music.
“I think of the live performances as the primary way to get what I do,”
Gorka said. “If people like the records, they’ll like the live show more.”
In talking about that live show, Gorka admits there’s a common exchange
he has with fans that always tickles him.
“They thought I’d be more depressed than I turned out to be,” Gorka said.
“But that’s OK; I kind of like having the melancholy tag. It gives me
something to play off of. Also, that means the live show is a lot more
fun than they might expect.”
It sounds as though Gorka is intentionally lowering a bar of optimism
and frivolity with music that is the exact opposite with the end result
being a surprise fans will enjoy. “That’s right,” Gorka said, laughing.
“I’m setting them up.”
Who: John Gorka
When: 8 p.m. April 5
Where: The Kent Stage, 175 East Main St.,
Info: 330-677-5005 or www.kentstage.org
Gorka - Live at Tales from the Tavern (Feb. 13, 2013). Produced by
Ron Colone & Carole Ann Colone; filmed by Henry Diltz, Gary Strobl,
Arthur Osha and Ian Palmer; live sound by Tyson Leonard; audio recorded
and mixed by D'nA On-Site Recording / Trumpet Vine Sound; Video edited
by Ian Palmer