By Chad Berndtson
For The Patriot Ledger
Posted Apr 01, 2010 @ 01:10 PM




JOHN GORKA At the South Shore Folk Music Club at the Beal House, 222 Main St., Kingston, 8 p.m., Saturday. April 3. Tickets are $18-$20, available at the door. Go to www.ssfmc.org or www.johngorka.com for more information.

Copyright 2010 The Patriot Ledger. Some rights reserved

Folk singer feeling right at home

John Gorka’s gift for lyricism and control has made him a staple in folk circles for some 25 years.

And that strength will be on display Saturday, when the affable artist returns to the area for a headlining show at the South Shore Folk Music Club at the Beal House in Kingston. He’s touring, more or less, behind his much-acclaimed October album, “So Dark You See.” But Gorka looks at his concerts as something more akin to sowing decades of folk tradition through his voice and guitar.

“I like to think of it as a little folk festival,” Gorka said of the latest album. “There’s a number of voices on there, a number of lyrical voices and a little range of styles, with music from different generations. That’s kind of the mark of a good festival. It’s my songs, like usual, plus a couple of collaborations, an old blues standard. I think of it as kind of a picture of my world and the world that I came from."

Gorka said it’s probably a “quieter” album than many of his fans are used to, seeing how it’s more solo acoustic, with a few collaborators, and less Gorka with a band. The singer-songwriter also chose a different way of recording: assembling the album one song at a time. He also recorded it in his home studio sans an engineer, a method he calls a little bit more experimental and distinctive.

“It sounds like what people would see if they came to see me live,” he said. “It’s like a live show with some extra special visitors.”

Recording at home offered Gorka certain luxuries, he said, such as choosing his own hours and reveling in quiet time.

“I’d try and play at different times of day, such as first thing in the morning after the kids get on the school bus,” he said. “I like the ‘morning brain’ – that’s kind of when you’re somewhere between waking from sleep and fully awake at a productive level of consciousness. That’s somehow good for music.You’re in a space that can lead to good things. I can also try playing an instrument I really have no business playing. If it’s good, I’ll keep it, and if not, no one has to know.”

Later this year, Gorka will release a collaborative album with Lucy Kaplansky – with whom he’s been working off and on since 1985 – and Eliza Gilkyson, both of whom appear with Gorka, though not together, on “So Dark.”

“We’ll be doing a number of songs with each of us as the main singer. The record’s going to be called ‘Red Horse,’” Gorka said. “Eliza had done a show in New York last year with Lucy and Cliff Eberhardt, and I think it was the first time they got to sing together. I think Eliza also heard how Lucy and I sound together, and I think she was the one who probably suggested we do this.”

For the moment, the oft-touring Gorka says he feels most at home in the Northeast, where he’s a ubiquitous presence in local coffee houses, folk clubs and acoustic settings.

“The audiences are very knowledgeable in the Northeast,” he said. “They know songs I don’t even know anymore. It’s where I’ve played the longest. I know everybody’s getting older and sometimes people will see that as a bad thing – that it’s thought of as not music for teenagers – but I don’t think that’s so bad. We’re growing old together. And I get to a lot of new places and reach new audiences. I find if it’s strong, people will be there and I can maintain the level I’m on.”