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John Gorka

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Anyone who knows John Gorka will tell you that he's been after it relentlessly since the mid-80s, and has clearly risen to the top of the field.

After cutting his teeth at a great listening room in eastern PA called Godfrey Daniels and becoming a regular in Jack Hardy's Fast Folk crowd in NYC, he got off to a flying start when Red House Records and Fleming Tamulevitch & Associates booking picked him up simultaneously in 1987. FTA are the agents that veritably control the folk world, and Red House one of the most distinguished and coveted labels. John plays up to 150 shows a year at every venue that books singer songwriters, and has earned a fan base that will probably sustain his career the rest of his natural life, along with the new believers each year brings.

After two albums with Red House, John made five with Windham Hill's High Street Records, all to critical acclaim. In search of a more art, less commerce approach to his music, Gorka's happily back with his original label on the last two records. His latest pearl is called The Company You Keep. The most important company he's keeping these days are his wife and two kids outside of St. Paul, MN, and I hear them featured in spirit throughout.

I hadn't heard a record of John's in some years when the new one appeared in the mailbox, and I didn't know what to expect. The bittersweet bounce of the first song and the soulful honesty of his baritone grabbed me more than just as reviewer or music lover—it spoke to me as a fellow human being. There's a relaxed maturity and absence of road perfected cleverness that I was happy to hear. He's a very wise person, and has a lot to offer.

We're from the same part of PA, and were a little acquainted, so a homey conversation follows. (John's originally from Colonia, NJ, as many of his fans know—his funny song "I'm from New Jersey" is a concert staple.) Unfortunately, my little Radio Shack tele-recorder was acting up in a major way, but I think the interview is intact, more or less. I'll fill in the blanks, and get a better recorder...

The Company You Keep includes some of John's fast company—Mary Chapin Carpenter, Ani DiFranco, Lucy Kaplansky, Patty Larkin, and co-producer Andy Stochansky (Ani's percussionist) whose playing on the disc is exemplary throughout. Here's a Puremusic guarantee that this will be a sterling addition to your collection of modern folk music, which is alive and well.

The punchline from "A Saint's Complaint" opines that "good things come to those who ain't." Fortunately, good things come to those who are, as well.    continue to interview

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