lesson has served Gorka well since the release of “I Know,” his 1987
debut. Throughout the course of a dozen studio albums, he has been praised
for his rich baritone voice and his literate, introspective folk-influenced
songs were better than anything I heard on radio or saw on TV,” he says.
“It was more like art and less like commerce.”
“I always knew there was something different about being from New Jersey,” says Gorka. The most direct inspiration was Richard Ford’s novel “The Sportswriter,” which was also set in New Jersey.
Gorka typically performs solo acoustic shows, such as he will do in Morristown. But his records also feature tasteful use of other instruments, such as electric guitar, keyboards, fiddle, mandolin and a rhythm section.
“The main things for me are the vocal and the guitar,” he says. “First I concentrate on getting a good performance, and then I add things as appropriate.”
Earlier this year, Gorka released “The Bright Side of Down,” his first album of new material since “So Dark You See” in 2009. He acknowledges that both albums feature among his most personal songwriting.
Gorka explains that the “Bright/Dark” imagery in the titles is not a coincidence. “I do think of them as bookends,” he says. “It’s funny how the title (of the most recent CD) came about,” Gorka says.
While visiting a friend in New Hampshire during the cold weather, Gorka expressed gratitude for having a down-filled winter coat. “My friend said, ‘That’s the bright side of down,’ ” Gorka says.
“I knew that that had to be the title of the CD I was working on.” Although “The Bright Side of Down” was only released a few months ago, Gorka says he has already been thinking about a new album.
“I’ll start working on it after I forget how much work it is to do a record,” he laughs. Gorka says he is heartened by the fact that his concerts — and those of his fellow singer-songwriters — still attract listeners. He feels a new generation of performers is emerging.
“There are young people coming up who are so good at an early age,” he says. “That gives me hope that my favorite type of music will survive.”
WHER.E.... ... .....JOHN GORKA