John Gorka's Occasional
Newsletter

 

Monday, September 07, 2020
Greetings from Home
Hi everybody, Itís been awhile. I hope that you and yours are weathering these crazy times. It seems like forever since I last sent a newsletter to you back in February. As it turned out, my last live show was on March 8th. I was at the beginning of an On a Winterís Night tour with Patty Larkin, Cheryl Wheeler, Cliff Eberhardt and Christine Lavinóactually driving to a show in Bostonówhen the remaining shows in the tour were cancelled or postponed due to Covid, as were my own shows booked for 2020. As of now, in-person shows on the books for 2021 are uncertain. This Labor Day finds many of us wishing that we could do the work we know how to do. In the meantime, like a lot of people, Iíve been exploring new ways to get music out there. Since April 5, Iíve recorded 23 home videos of songs, posting one each week on Facebook and YouTube. Theyíre all still up for you to listen to if youíd like to check them out. You can find them (here).

The YouTube link has the most recent videos first. Producing the videos has been fun, and also a pretty steep learning curve. Iíve had a home studio for recording audio, but the video world is new territory. If you watch the videos in chronological order, hopefully, you will some evolution in fits and starts. Some are traditional folk songs, some are original, most are songs Iíve recorded in the past, and some are newly written. Iíve also done a few songs by others, including Doug Andersonís You Can Run and Janis Ianís Better Times will Come. Janis had invited some of her musical friends to record the song, and I was among the first to respond with a version. Her project has really taken off: there are now well over a hundred recordings, with variations expressed in dance, coloring books, Seattle punk, ASL, and many other languages, including Japanese, Dutch, and Gaelic. All together, the versions have had many thousands of views. Find them (here).

In addition to the weekly songs, in August I had the chance to participate in Eliza Gilkysonís Casa de Musica songwriting workshop, which was online for the first time. We had 21 students over a four-day period. Itís always amazing to be a part of these, because you get an idea of how much talent is out there, and how much people can accomplish when they work at it. Though it was conducted via Zoom it had the same spirit as the in-person workshops. Also in August, I was part of a program hosted by Artreach St. Croix in Stillwater, MN, that was part of the NEA Big Read, focused on science and song. Sean Otto talked about his book, ďThe War on Science,Ē and I did a short set of songs. Some of my earlier shows have been streamed for audiences online, including the first show I did for Tales from the Tavern, and also a show from January 2019 at Caffť Lena, Saratoga Springs, NY. You can check the tour dates section of my website for future streamed shows. The shows are pre-recorded, but I generally participate in the event by responding to comments from audiences during the show. On the horizon, if the technology cooperates, I may be doing my first live-streamed concert on Tuesday, October 20, with Joyce Sica's Uptown Concerts. If it happens, Iíll update you by email. Here is the link.

Otherwise, Iím just trying to focus on what I can do rather than what I canít, and keeping in mind all the people who are in a tough spot. If you are suffering from anxiety, depression or insomnia, please know that you are not alone. My approach has been to have "small, achievable goals" every day but that might not work foreverybody, me included. I hope all eligible voters vote and that every vote is counted, to keep our democracy alive. To register or to check your registration status, visit: https://www.nass.org/can-I-vote In honor of Labor Day, I look forward to watching the documentary film about Utah Phillips thatís airing through midnight tonight on foraifilm.com. Itís called ďTales from the Long Memory: the story of America you didnít learn in school.Ē Maybe youíd like to watch it, too. Any time I can here a story from Utah, I count it as a good day.

That's the news for now. I hope these words and pictures find you safe and well! All the best, John G, Labor Day 2020 .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


John Gorka & Bruce Utah Phillips at Godfrey Daniels in 1994

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The Management wishes you Peace!

 

 

 

..........................................................................................................................Feb. 2, 2020
Dear People,

I'm sorry it has been so long since I connected with you! Lots going on. I'm sure that it's the same with you. In any case, here's some news:

Last November marked the revival of On a Winter's Night, a group tour that was started in 1990 by Christine Lavin. The longest running line-up that toured under the name for nearly two decades included Patty Larkin, Cheryl Wheeler, Cliff Eberhardt and me. Christine has rejoined the group for the reunion, with shows last fall in the northeast and midwest. Over a dozen On a Winter's Night shows are booked his coming March in Colorado, California and the northwest. These upcoming shows may have various combinations of 4-5 players, so if you're interested, check my itinerary for dates and the specific venues for line-ups. It's been fun to travel and do shows with artists and friends I've known for such a long time. Audiences have been telling us that they enjoy the music and the camaraderie, too.This January also happened to mark the first Red Horse show in 1 & 1/2 years, a group that includes Eliza Gilkyson, Lucy Kaplansky and me. We played in Gainesville, at the University of Florida, and had a great time. There are more shows in the works... In other recent travels, I was happy to share the stage with Michael Smith in a workshop at the Fox Valley Festival in Illinois in September. Michael wrote The Dutchman, which is one of those songs that changed my idea of what a song could be. He is a fantastic songwriter! We may do some shows together later this year. In December, I was also glad to be able to hear Chris Stills at Swallow Hill in Denver, and to bring home his new LP, called Don't Be Afraid. Other shows brought me to some new favorite venues where I hadn't played before, including The Word Barn in Exeter, New Hampshire and the Sofia Tsakapolous Center for the Arts in Sacramento, CA.

This January also happened to mark the first Red Horse show in 1 & 1/2 years, a group that includes Eliza Gilkyson, Lucy Kaplansky and me. We played in Gainesville, at the University of Florida, and had a great time. There are more shows in the works...

 

In other recent travels, I was happy to share the stage with Michael Smith in a workshop at the Fox Valley Festival in Illinois in September. Michael wrote The Dutchman, which is one of those songs that changed my idea of what a song could be. He is a fantastic songwriter! We may do some shows together later this year. In December, I was also glad to be able to hear Chris Stills at Swallow Hill in Denver, and to bring home his new LP, called Don't Be Afraid. Other shows brought me to some new favorite venues where I hadn't played before, including The Word Barn in Exeter, New Hampshire and the Sofia Tsakapolous Center for the Arts in Sacramento, CA.

In five days in January, I went from -16 F seeing a snowshoe hare in Alberta, Canada to 66 F degrees seeing Spanish moss in Florida!


Looking ahead, there are many solo shows along with the Winter's Night tour, including plans in the works for a return to Ireland in May and The Netherlands in November.


As always, I continue to work on new songs. A few songs in the works are collaborations with John Vezner and with Eliza Gilkyson.


Hope comes from surprising places these days. Most recently, it came from our local librarian, who taped a few tax forms I needed on the outside door of the library, where I could find them after closing time on the day of the IRS deadline. Especially in a world where the troubles are big and many, there is no such thing as a small kindness.


Peace to you,
John


 



Coming to City Winery Chicago - August 31!

I haven't played in Chicago in a while - Here is the ticket link -
For a more complete list of shows
or visit: The John Gorka tour dates page Photo by Jos Van Vliet

 

 

Greetings at the End of Summer
August 20, 2019

 

Dear Friends,

It has been very green here in Minnesota this summer. We still have a vernal pool that is usually gone by the middle of July, so I guess it is a full fledged pond now.

 

I've been covering a lot of ground in recent months, with shows in Washington State and Oregon, North Carolina, Colorado, Texas and Michigan, as well as a number in the northeast and a few closer to home, in Zumbrota and Cedar Rapids. In April, I was in Europe for nearly three weeks, with shows in the Netherlands, Germany and the Basque region of Spain. It was a trip of contrasts: the lowland fields of Holland blooming with daffodils and hyacinth, the hills along the Rhine where I played in Germany at Mayence Acoustique, the mountains rising from the Bay of Biscay at San Sebastian, where my hosts treated me to two late-night, multi-course, after-show feasts that I barely but happily survived. I was glad to be able to extend the tour to visit our son, Joe, who was in Dublin at Trinity College for the semester. He played a short set at an impromptu show, the first time we've shared the stage.

 

 

 



I enjoyed returning to two song schools this summer, meeting up with students to talk about songs and songwriting. As usual, I came away inspired by being in the company of such talented people. The first was in June at Eliza Gilkyson's Casa de Musica near Taos, NM the second was the long-running Swannanoa Gathering near Asheville, NC in late July. Outside of my own sessions, it was great to sit in on Tom Paxton's class "What I Learned from Pete and Woody," and Jon Vezner's session on song critiquing. Scott Ainsley was generous with his time and gave me a short lesson on slide-guitar. I think I learned more in twenty minutes with Scott than I had in a couple years of messing around on my own. My family thanks him.

I hope you're hanging on in these troubled and chaotic times. I've found that music helps. You maybe saw the recent study suggesting that attending live music does more to extend your life than yoga or walking the dog. I'm not sure about that. To paraphrase Grouch Marx "Outside of a dog, music is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too hard to hear."

Looking forward seeing you at upcoming shows. Next up is a run of shows in Fort Atkinson, WI, Chicago and Geneva, IL.

Aug 30, 2019 Cafe Carpe Ft. Atkinson, WI
Aug 31, 2019 City Winery Chicago, IL
Sep 1, 2019 Fox Valley Folk Music & Storytelling Festival Geneva, IL
Sep 5, 2019 BluSeed Studios Saranac Lake, NY
Sep 6, 2019 Towne Crier Cafe Beacon, NY
Sep 7, 2019 Colorscape Chenango Arts & Music Festival Norwich, NY
Sep 26, 2019 The Word Barn Exeter, NH
Sep 27, 2019 Me & Thee Coffeehouse Marblehead, MA
Sep 28, 2019 Unison Arts Center New Paltz, NY
Sep 29, 2019 mActivity New Haven , CT
Oct 4, 2019 Bridge Street Live Collinsville, CT
Oct 5, 2019 Congregational Church of Huntington Centerport, NY
Oct 6, 2019 Flying Cat Music Series at Phoenicia United Methodist Church Phoenicia, NY
Oct 13, 2019 Minnesota State University Mankato, MN
Oct 17, 2019 Sofia Tsakapolous Center for the Arts Sacramento, CA
Oct 18, 2019 Sebastopol Community Center Sebastopol, CA
Oct 19, 2019 The Fore Family Winery Kelseyville, CA
Oct 20, 2019 Freight and Salvage Berkeley, CA
Nov 1, 2019 The Ark Ann Arbor, MI
Nov 2, 2019 Dogwood Center for the Performing Arts Fremont, MI .


PS -- It was great to visit the Fine Arts Work Center in Cape Code in June where I was introduced by my friend, Patty Larkin.

Glad to be a FAWCer!

 

Also, looking forward to attending The Heal, at The Getty Villa in Malibu, CA a play with original music written and performed by my friend Cliff Eberhardt. Break a leg Mr. Cliff!

- JG .

 

 



 

  Here you can find the John Gorka Newsletter Archive (2014-2019)