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).
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).
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.
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
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.
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
you would like to order John Gorka CDs or DVDs, please go
you would like to make a donation to John Gorka, please go
Management wishes you Peace!
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
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,
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...
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.
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,
to City Winery Chicago - August 31!
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
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.
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,
was in Europe for nearly three weeks, with
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
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.
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."
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,
Sep 1, 2019 Fox Valley Folk Music
& Storytelling Festival Geneva, IL
Sep 5, 2019 BluSeed Studios Saranac
Sep 6, 2019 Towne Crier Cafe Beacon,
Sep 7, 2019 Colorscape Chenango Arts
& Music Festival Norwich, NY
Sep 26, 2019 The Word Barn Exeter,
Sep 27, 2019 Me & Thee Coffeehouse
Sep 28, 2019 Unison Arts Center New
Sep 29, 2019 mActivity New Haven
Oct 4, 2019 Bridge Street Live Collinsville,
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
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
Oct 20, 2019 Freight and Salvage
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.
to be a FAWCer!
you can find the John Gorka Newsletter Archive (2014-2019)