John Gorka at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, 2004
|Born||July 27, 1958|
Colonia, New Jersey, U.S.
|Instruments||Vocals, guitars, piano|
|Labels||Windham Hill, High Street, Red House|
|Associated acts||Red Horse|
John Gorka (born July 27, 1958) is a contemporary American folk musician. In 1991, Rolling Stone magazine called him "the preeminent male singer-songwriter of what has been dubbed the New Folk Movement."
Raised in the Colonia section of Woodbridge Township, New Jersey, where he attended Colonia High School. Gorka received his first guitar as a Christmas gift. He eventually learned, instead, to play the banjo, and began performing in a folk music group at his church.
As of 2005, he was residing in the St. Croix Valley area near Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Gorka formed the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band with Doug Anderson and Russ Rentler, which would also include guitarist Richard Shindell. After graduating from Moravian, he began performing solo at Godfrey Daniels coffee house in South Bethlehem as the opening act for various musicians including Nanci Griffith, Bill Morrissey, Claudia Schmidt and Jack Hardy. In 1984, Gorka was one of six winners chosen from the finalists in the New Folk competition at the Kerrville Folk Festival. Since then he has regularly toured Europe and North America.
He has appeared with artists such as Suzanne Vega, Shawn Colvin, Michael Manring, Christine Lavin, Dave Van Ronk, Cliff Eberhardt, David Massengill, Frank Christian, Antje Duvekot, Meg Hutchinson, and Lucy Kaplansky. He joined with Kaplansky and Eliza Gilkyson to form the folk supergroup Red Horse in 2010, touring together and releasing a self-titled album on which they performed each other's compositions. Red Horse toured through July 2014.
In 1987, Gorka recorded his first album, I Know. It was released by Red House—beginning a long association with that label. Although his next five albums were distributed by Windham Hill and High Street, he returned to Red House with 1998's After Yesterday and produced eight albums with them over the next twenty years—most recently True in Time (2018).
- I Know (Red House, 1987)
- Land of the Bottom Line (Windham Hill/High Street, 1990)
- Jack's Crows (Windham Hill/High Street, 1991)
- Temporary Road (Windham Hill/High Street, 1992)
- Out of the Valley (Windham Hill/High Street, 1994)
- Between Five and Seven (Windham Hill/High Street, 1996)
- After Yesterday (Red House, 1998)
- The Company You Keep (Red House, 2001)
- Old Futures Gone (Red House, 2003)
- Writing in the Margins (Red House, 2006)
- So Dark You See (Red House, 2009)
- Bright Side of Down (Red House, 2014)
- Before Beginning: The Unreleased I Know [Nashville, 1985] (Red House, 2016)
- True in Time (Red House, 2018)
- Motor Folkin' (Windham Hill/High Street, 1994)
- The Gypsy Life (AIX Records, 2007)
"Best of" albums
- Pure John Gorka (Windham Hill, 2006)
On various artists compilations
- See various issues of Fast Folk Musical Magazine for early recordings.
- "I Saw a Stranger with Your Hair" on Legacy: A Collection of New Folk Music (Windham Hill, 1989)
- "Christmas Bells", on A Winter's Solstice, Vol. III (Windham Hill, 1990)
- "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" on A Tribute to Bob Dylan, Vol. 2 (SIS, 1994)
- "The Gypsy Life" on The Live from Mountain Stage, Vol. 8 (Blue Plate, 1995)
- "The Water is Wide" on Where Have All the Flowers Gone: The Songs of Pete Seeger (Wundertüte Musik, 1998)
- "Sweet Love" on "Treasures Left Behind: Remembering Kate Wolf" (Red House, 1998)
- "Bracero" on What's That I Hear?: The Songs of Phil Ochs (Sliced Bread, 1998)
- "Out of My Mind" on When October Goes : Autumn Love Songs (Philo, 1998)
- "Thirsty Boots" (Eric Andersen) on Bleecker Street: Greenwich Village in the 1960s (Astor Place Records, 1999)
- "Girl from the North Country" on A Nod to Bob: An Artists' Tribute to Bob Dylan on His 60th Birthday (Red House, 2001)
- "Do La Lay", "Things We've Handed Down" and others on Down at the Sea Hotel (La Montagne Secrète, 2007)
- Henkle, Doug, "FolkLib Index"
- Wing, Eliza, Rolling Stone, August 8, 1991, p. 17
- Zane, J. Peder. "In Person; Telling Stories, Going Farther", The New York Times, July 9, 1995. Accessed August 7, 2019. "Speaking before that recent performance, Mr. Gorka, a trim man with untrimmed hair who grew up in Colonia, explained that "I'm From New Jersey" is not simply a joke.... 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."
- "American Folk Singer and Alumnus John Gorka '80 to perform at Moravian College". Moravian College. October 9, 2015. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
- "John Gorka". allmusic.com.
- "John Gorka: Building A Bridge Of Folk Music". npr.org.
- "Music as Refuge: the Life of John Gorka". huffingtonpost.com.
- "John Gorka Album Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
- "'New Folk' star John Gorka to bring singer-songwriter charm to slate of Michigan shows". localspins.com.