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John Gorka

A singer/songwriter famed for his rich, expressive baritone, New Jersey native John Gorka was one of the leading lights of the new folk movement. Gorka began his career while attending college in Pennsylvania in the early '80s, appearing at open-mike nights at a local coffeehouse before eventually forming his own group, the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band. Soon he hit the road, performing up and down the Eastern Seaboard before finally settling in Texas and winning the Kerrville Folk Festival's prestigious New Folk Award in 1984. In 1987, Gorka cut his debut album, I Know, for the Red House label, winning acclaim for his songs' subtle wit and acute character observations. After a move to Windham Hill, he issued 1990's Land of the Bottom Line, followed two years later by Jack's Crows. With 1993's Temporary Road, Gorka garnered significant airplay from country outlets with the single and video "When She Kisses Me," resulting in tours supporting Mary Chapin Carpenter and Nanci Griffith. For 1994's Out of the Valley, Gorka traveled to Nashville to team with producer John Jennings, who recruited guests including Carpenter, Kathy Mattea, guitarist Leo Kottke, and Fairport Convention drummer Dave Mattacks; Between Five and Seven followed in 1996, and two years later he returned with After Yesterday. Company You Keep, which followed in early 2001, featured guest spots from Carpenter, Patty Larkin, and Lucy Kaplansky. 2003 saw the release of the typically introspective Old Futures Gone. It was followed in 2006 by Writing in the Margins. So Dark You See appeared in 2009, and Red Horse, a collaborative album with Eliza Gilkyson and Lucy Kaplansky, followed in 2010. Gorka didn't record again for a few years, though he did keep up a steady touring schedule. In March of 2014, he re-emerged with The Bright Side of Down. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Bright Side Of Down

1. Holed Up Mason City

2. Bright Side Of Down

3. High Horse

4. More Than One

5. She's That Kind Of Mystery

6. Outnumbered

7. Don't Judge A Life

8. Honeybee

9. Procrastination Blues

10. Thirstier Wind

11. Mind To Think

12. Really Spring

x

Track List: So Dark You See

1. A Fond Kiss

2. Whole Wide World

3. Can't Get Over It

4. Fret One

5. Ignorance & Privilege

7. I Think Of You

9. Night Into Day

10. Fret Not

11. Live By The Sword

12. Trouble In Mind

13. The Dutchman

14. Mr. Chambers

15. That Was The Year

16. Diminishing Winds

x

Track List: Writing In The Margins

1. Chance Of Rain

2. Broken Place

3. Satellites

4. Writing In The Margins

5. Snow Don't Fall

6. Bluer State

7. Arms Length

8. The Lockkeeper

9. I Miss Everyone

10. When You Sing

11. Road Of Good Intentions

12. Unblindfold The Referee

x

Track List: Pure

1. Looking Forward

2. Jack's Crows

3. Blue Chalk

4. I Saw A Stranger With Your Hair

5. Lightning's Blues

6. The Gypsy Life

7. Silence

8. Vinnie Charles Is Free

9. Where The Bottles Break

10. That's Why

11. Houses In The Fields

12. When She Kisses Me

13. The Ballad Of Jamie Bee

14. I'm From New Jersey

15. Italian Girls

x

Track List: Old Futures Gone

1. Dogs & Thunder

2. Always

3. Look The Other Way

4. Outside

5. Trouble & Care

6. Make Them Crazy

7. Old Future

8. Lay Me Down

9. Shapes

10. Soldier After All

11. Poor Side

12. War Makes War

13. If Not Now

14. Riverside

x

Track List: After Yesterday

1. When The Ice Goes Out

2. Thorny Patch

3. Cypress Trees

4. Wisdom

5. Silvertown

6. January Floor

7. Amber Lee

8. After Yesterday

9. When He Cries

10. St. Caffeine

12. Heroes

x

Track List: Out Of The Valley

1. Good Noise

2. That's Why

3. Carnival Knowledge (Second Hand Face)

4. Talk About Love

5. Bigtime Lonesome

6. Furniture

7. Mystery To Me

8. Out Of The Valley

9. Thoughtless Behavior

10. Always Going Home

11. Flying Red Horse

12. Up Until Then

x

Track List: Land Of The Bottom Line

1. Land Of The Bottom Line

2. Armed With A Broken Heart

3. Raven In The Storm

4. The One That Got Away

5. Full Of Life

6. Stranger In My Driver's Seat

7. The Sentinel

8. Dream Street

9. Mean Streak

10. Italian Girls

11. Jailbirds In The Bighouse

12. Promnight In Pigtown

13. I Saw A Stranger With Your Hair

14. Love Is Our Cross To Bear

15. That's How Legends Are Made

x

Track List: I Know

1. Downtown Tonight

2. Winter Cows

3. Blues Palace

4. Love Is Our Cross To Bear

5. Branching Out

6. I Saw A Stranger With Your Hair

8. Heart Upon Demand

9. I Know

10. Out Of My Mind

11. Like My Watch

12. Down In The Milltown

Comments

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Saw John at The Evening Muse in Charlotte,NC around 2006. Magnificent musician in an intimate location , playing perfectly crafted songs for an adoring crowd. One of the best nights of my musical life. Wish I could repeat it. Carpe Diem.
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Can't lose this thank you.
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Thank you, remedy you bring
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And just think this is truly awesome! John Gorka is standing right infront of me while I'm listening to these songs of his. So cool. What a humble and nice man.
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Jacks crows are loud in the mornin. No relation to the crows of Jim. If you get a chance, check out this song. Classic JG.
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Just saw him at Land Haven bed & breakfast, Huffs Church, Pa. Always Good!
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no wings? what was is not.
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asirmon783
We have been fans for many years. Our favorite is is version of The river is wide
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I have been a real big fan since way back when....saw him first at the Backdoor in Ballard Wa.
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I remember hearing John decades ago(late 1980s??) @ the Kalamazoo Folklife Organization weekend concerts and immediately loved his fluid-smooth , e x t r e m e l y soothing lyrical voice. He is,to my mind, a living legend,of the new folk music movement.
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herbsandbees 2
I'm a Gorkette from back in the good old days of the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival.
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he wouldn't give me a ride up the hill in Pagosa.
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One of the few people I've ever met, that when I looked into his eyes, I felt the presence of a good soul.
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I dig the hell out this dude.JTIII
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ed75874
I knew John before he was famous. He came to Martin Guitar many times to see Dick Boak and the rest of us back in the 80's. Seem to remember seeing him at Godfrey Daniels in Bethlehem PA. His music was great then as is now.
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You just can't beat John Gorka. Everything he does is amazing.
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This music reminds me of an old flame I had. She was from New Jersey and used to love John Gorka. Great memories of my youth.
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great old folkie!!! Seen him at several coffee house settings, always a treat
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Saw him at the Circle of Friends Coffee House in Franklin, MA this past weekend and he is awesome!
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larrycorsa
Audrey and I caught him at McCabes last Friday. Just great. So satisfying.
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Just saw Gorka yesterday in Ringwood new jersey. He is still great - he played piano - and a tiny electric guitar in addition to his wonderful acoustic. Go see him - a good time - he will speak to your soul.
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laskiblue
I could just fall into John Gorka's voice . . . I loved seeing him in concert many, many years ago as part of the Celery City Music Hall series in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
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So many concerts, so much humor and originality, such a generous and kind soul.
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Saw him again at the Guthrie Center a couple weeks ago. He's still The Man!
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You da Man, John. Keep on Truckin'.
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Can you believe how beautiful and creative this song is? Unreal....se c o n d only to Flying Red Horse...
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jacckson4cj
Boy has the music industry changed! Razy Dazy Spasm Band with a young John Gorka and a young Richard Shindell and no calls for nostalgic reunions. What I would have given to be a fly on the wall in their sessions. Powerfull songwriting artfully rendered...w o w .
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My first exposure was The Flying Red Horse, which someone pilfered, so I don't know what year that was, but it was at least as good as all the rest i've listened to. Maybe Pandora can include all his works, eventually. And to think you can catch this guy at Schuba's in Chicago on occasion!
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sbrinkman89
He get's it done. John, you are the bomb! Whether sentimental, tongue-in-ch e e k , or dead-on right, you tell stories like no-one else can. Your melodies are fun, easy, memorable, your guitar work spectacular, and insight beyond that shown by many. You are a pleasure to listen to, I am a fan for life.
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ac_witney
I have always loved this guys beautiful voice and performing skills. I would love to hear him in concert again.
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John's rich baritone voice is unmistakable . Land of the Bottom Line still resonates as a work of genius. If you've ever had your heart broken, this one may stay in your rotation for many months.
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Those pictures above aren't of John Gorka. They're pictures of Lucy Kaplinsky. (See Pandora's Lucy Kaplinsky bio.)
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davidsames
Peacefully thought provoking.
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fjuziuk
First heard him on a Windham hill cut at Christmas and fell in love with his voice. Now his version of "I heard the bells on Christmas Day" is the only one I sing.
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ameo52
Very enjoyable voice!!
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Insightfully entertaining - an intelligent songsmith from the original
land of the bottom line
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Hmmm hmmm....
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Great songwriter, great voice. I live in Colorado, so I don't get to see as much of the great eastern folk singers as I would like
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kjackson56
What a mellow voice...pure and relatable... w h e r e has he been hiding??? I live in PA!!!
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JRMarks
Just saw John at the famed Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs. The experience was sublime.
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frissy61
John's been a favorite for many years....sin c e the early days at Godfrey Daniels in Bethlehem. Almost got thrown out of one show for singing louder than him (so rude) - just can't help liking his music, including Christine Lavin, David Wicox, Patty Larkin. Thanks to Pandora for the free music enjoyment and variety.
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John's been a favorite for years. Go see him live. He's like no one else and the recordings don't do his voice justice.
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Daniel: I listen and very much enjoy both Bill Morissey and John Gorka. Significantl y different... a l b e i t mostly just in sound, as both have great messages, great stories, and songs full of ear candy! We've heard J. Gorka 2 or 3 times. More than well worth it. Two incredible artists.
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Does anyone listening to John Gorka also listen to Bill Morissey? I heard Gorka from listening to Bill. I found an album of Morrisey in 1992.
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ackerbex3
Another new find courtesy of Pandora! Thig guy reminds me of JonSmith, for some reason. Lovely baritone. Thanks, Pandora!!
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cindalebus
Tell me the truth what are you living for
Tell me why, why are you near
'Cause if you cannot make yourself a good noise
Tell me what you're doing here

....'nuf said!

I love John Gorka!
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"Italian Girls"...wha t a bizarro song. Is it tongue-in-ch e e k , perhaps?
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One of the best folk singers to come near Wichita...an d definitely worth seeing live, although the recordings are superb. Been listening ever since Land of the Bottom Line. Ranks right up there with Lucy Kaplansky (although completely different).
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Amen Fran Demers and of course Pandora! It's artists such as this that really make me hate popular music, or at least most of it!
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rcr126
A voice from the heavens. Beautifully crafted songs with something to say. Try to see him in concert!

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