John Gorka with Lizanne Knott

The Sellersville Theater Sellersville, Pa 3/31/2018

He’s from New Jersey

Yes, John Gorka is from New Jersey. After opening his show with “True in Time” a song from his new album of the same name he proceeded to tell the audience that for those that might not be familiar with him he would tell a little about himself as he went along. Those that were familiar with John and his music, about 99%, knew right where he was going. Yes, he broke right into his well known song, “I’m From New Jersey”. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. This really great night of music started off with local singer/songwriter, gosh I haven’t used that term in a while, Lizanne Knott, who graced us with her beautiful, voice, songs, and guitar work.

I reviewed Lizanne’s last album for these pages, , and was knocked out so I was absolutely looking forward to her opening for another folkie who’s music I love. I could tell Lizanne was happy to be there as well. Actually, I think Lizanne is always happy to be singing and playing for an audience. Sharing her marvelous gifts is one of her pleasures and the audience can feel it in her voice and see it in her smile. Lizanne’s music got the night off to a great start.

OK, back to John Gorka. John played a number of what he referred to as Introductory songs in the process of telling us all about his journey into becoming a professional musician. Part of that introduction was “Land of the Bottom Line” about getting a job. He also explained that starting out he tried to emulate those he saw while hanging and working at Godfrey Daniels a coffee house in Bethlehem, PA. Using a setlist, patter between songs, knowing what comes next, all that stuff. After his set the club owner told him he was slick. He quickly quit that stuff. Actually his patter between songs is a riot. He easily could have been a stand up comic.

John played “I Saw a Stranger With Your Hair” from the I Know album. Mentioning that Martin Guitar was in Nazareth, Pa and he had a Martin Guitar he then played Nazareen Guitar. John introduced the song Tatooed by saying, “if you’re doing well, good, If not this song is for you”. Both of those songs are from his new album. He went back in time to “Oh Abraham”, his only song with Abraham Lincoln and Jack Kerouac in it and a fan favorite “People My Age”. My favorite song of the show “Arroyo Seco” was from the new album and inspired by the writers workshop hosted by Eliza Gilkyson at her Taos, NM home.

This was truly a great night of music. I have loved John Gorka’s work for a while now and have shot him in concert a few times. It is always enjoyable. Love seeing Lizanne Knott in concert and looking forward to her next album.

Before I end I want to explain that I am using Mr. Gorka’s first name because I am tired of writing reviews referring to performers by their last names as is usually done. It just doesn’t feel comfortable. I am in no way suggesting that he or any performer is my close friend. I just think it is friendlier and more personal. So be it.

Mark J. Smith