John Gorka with Mustard's Retreat in Concert

What: Cornell Folk Song Society Concert
When: Saturday, November 4, 2006
Where: Call Auditorium, Kennedy Hall
Cornell University
How Much: $15 advance / $17 door / usual discounts

John Gorka

With charming self-deprecation, John Gorka describes himself as, "the intense white guy from New Jersey," and an, "aspiring folksinger." Others rightly call him one of the foremost songwriters on the scene today, a revered craftsman and pillar of the contemporary folk community.

From his musical breakthrough at Godfrey Daniels in the early 1980s, to winning the Kerrville Folk Festival's New Folk competition in 1984, to becoming a mainstay of Fast Folk in Greenwich Village, Gorka's rise as a "New Folk Hero" was meteoric and well-deserved. Through it, he remained real-world-grounded in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania, but honed his skills as "an outpatient of the New York folk scene" with a cohort including Nanci Griffith, Bill Morrissey, Jack Hardy, Suzanne Vega, Shawn Colvin, Christine Lavin, Dave Van Ronk, Cliff Eberhardt, David Massengill, Lucy Kaplansky, and Richard Shindell. Star power has not changed his approachable music or personable performances. This is a genuine guy no pretense.

John Gorka has ten fine recordings to his credit and his songs, in turn, have been recorded by other luminaries such as Mary Chapin Carpenter, Mary Black, and Maura O'Connell. His baritone, warm, humane, and rich, is hard to top. Not every folk musician can claim brilliant lyrics, compelling and memorable melodies, and the voice to do them justice. In concert, he creates an intimate rapport with his audience. He's sincere, a natural comic, and full of heart. Within a song, he can expand small moments of daily life to reflections on the important issues of the day. It is evident that Gorka is still "aspiring," but is also inspiring: he is a leader in moving contemporary songwriting beyond introspection to the wider world, which he seems to regard with a healthy mix of sorrow and hope.

Opening for John Gorka will be David Tamulevich and Michael Hough (Mustard's Retreat), who have valiantly been making "Music to cure what ails you" for 31 years. Whatever the size of the concert space, they quickly transform it into their living room, and the audience into old friends. Their specialty is tale-telling in song: whether unabashedly silly or spooky (and they'll probably still be in Hallowe'en mode for this concert, so expect some chills and wild rides). Winners of the very first "Best of Bound for Glory" award, Mustard's Retreat is always welcome in Ithaca.

It has been nearly 10 years since John Gorka's last Cornell Folk Song Society concert. Step lively to get your tickets for this rare event!

Tickets are available at Ludgate Farm Market, Ithaca Guitar Works, Greenstar Co-op, Small World Music, and, if any are left, at the door. You may also order tickets online and by mail: SASE to CFSC, PO Box 481, Ithaca, NY 14851.

(Margaret Shepard)

For information about the concert, contact

More info about John Gorka
Folkstuff home page

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Author:Ted Crane
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