With his deep, resonating voice and melodic six- and 12-string guitar fingerpicking, Gordon Bok has been the leading purveyor of the music of the sea for nearly half a century. Although he has often preferred to spend his time in his workshop in Maine, working on wood sculptures, his albums and performances are always eagerly awaited by his many fans.
A native of Pennsylvania, Bok grew up in rural Maine. His musical skills were inherited from his parents. While his mother taught him folk songs on nylon-string guitar, his father exposed him to jazz and classical music. Although he began playing guitar at the age of nine, Bok didn't sing until being encouraged by a fiddler and seaman he met while working a summer job on a boat following his high-school graduation.
Traveling to larger East Coast cities during the winter to work as a carpenter, Bok became absorbed in the folk music scene. With his large repertoire of songs about the sea, he became one of the traditional circuit's best-known artists. Bok, however, remained reclusive. After five years of prodding, he finally relented to allowing Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary to produce his self-titled debut album in 1965. In the 1980s, Bok was inspired by a series of disturbing dreams to compose in the ancient style of cante-fables, a non-rhyming style of balladry. His cante-fable The Play of Lady Odivere was recorded in 1989.
In addition to his performances and recordings as a soloist, Bok has worked in a trio with Ann Mayo Muir and Ed Trickett. He recorded a duo album, Neighbors, with Cindy Kallet in 1996. In the 21st century his recordings as a solo artist have included Dear to Our Island (2001), Herrings in the Bay (2003), Apples in the Basket (2005), In Concert (2006), and Other Eyes (2010), all released on Bok's Timberhead Music label based in Camden, Maine. ~ Craig Harris