Godfrey Daniels is one of the oldest and most venerable music institutions in eastern Pennsylvania. A small neighborhood coffeehouse and listening room, it has long been a hangout for music lovers and aspiring musicians, and in the late 1970s, one of these was a young Moravian College student named John Gorka. Russ Rentler is an old friend of John's. He also studied at Moravian College and co-founded The Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band with John.

Dave Fry recorded these songs from The Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band in 1979 or 1980. Dave is still the driving force behind Godfrey Daniels Coffeehouse and he also gave me the beautiful audio recordings of this concert.

In other words, it was a special evening in the club where John Gorka once started. Enough reason to pay attention to it on this website. I would like to thank Dave Fry for sending the audio recordings and Russ Rentler for sending the photos.

^ Photo: Dave Snyder............... :


Click here for 'Morningside'



Click here for 'Welcome Home' (+ introduction).




Click here for 'Hold On'




Click here for 'July, You're a woman'




Click here for 'Nazarene Guitar'


Click here for 'That's How Legends Are Made'


Click here for 'Blue Chalk'


Click here for 'The Ballad of Jamie Bee'


Click here for 'Flying Red Horse'


Click here for 'Working on Corners' (Nanci Griffith)

Click here for 'People My Age'


Click here for 'Christmas Bells' *

Click here for 'Love is our Cross to bear'  

^ Photos: Greg Buragino


^ Photo by Dave Snyder.
^ Camera by Tina Pastor, edit by Jos van Vliet
....audio recording by Dave Fry.. (Dec. 7, 2023)
^ Photo by Andrew Kin


Godfrey Daniels

became John Gorka's
second home


Published: July 9, 1995

"I've never done anything halfway," John Gorka said. "Whatever it is, I don't so much have to be the best, but the best I can be." This passion for folk and bluegrass music isolated him a bit from his friends at Colonia High School, but when he started performing at school and at parties, it provided him with a satisfying way to reach people. "I could express myself on stage much better than when I was talking," he said. "Performing, I could control what happens. I could make it perfect, or a lot closer to perfect than real life." But he still didn't think he could make music his life until he enrolled at Moravian College in Bethlehem in 1976. By chance, the fading steel town on the banks of the Lehigh River was home to one of the great folk music coffeehouses in the country, Godfrey Daniels, which attracted top performers from around the nation. "It was a warm, intimate place," he said, smiling fondly at the memory. "People sat in old church pews and listened, really listened to the music, as the performers swept them through every emotion. It was extremely intense, almost religious."

The club became his second home -- in fact, he still has a set of keys. He sold snacks and records and swept up after shows. He pored over the artists' press kits and sidled up to them after shows to talk about songwriting. He played banjo in a local bluegrass outfit, the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band, but seldom performed on his own. He just didn't think he was good enough. "My songs tended to be slow and on the sad side," he said. "You know, a young guy trying to be serious." After graduation in 1980, he stayed in Bethlehem and set a characteristically modest goal: to record an album in five years. During the day he delivered flowers, and at night he played in bands at Godfrey Daniels and nearby restaurants, usually earning a meal and $25 for five hours of music. IN 1981 and 1982 Mr. Gorka made a series of decisions that transformed the course of his career. First, he stopped playing in bands and concentrated on being a solo singer-songwriter. "I realized I was never going to be a great banjo player," he said. "I felt I could best express myself playing and singing my own songs."


^ Photo by Andrew Kin