John Gorka

Sunday
23
Feb

Leading Singer-Songwriters of Today's Folk Music

“The leading singer-songwriter of the New Folk movement” – Rolling Stone

 

Why you should see this show…

John Gorka is one of the iconic singer-songwriter of the ’80s folk scene. Hailing from New Jersey, but forged in the Greenwich Village Fast Folk scene, he honed his craft and persona into an unmistakable image. The shy, wry, insightful, and yes, sensitive singer-songwriter has been copied and parodied. But the old coat he wove still fits, and still suits him well. The old songs ring as true as they ever did, and the new ones are just as good.

“Gorka is widely heralded for the sophisticated intelligence and provocative originality of his songs.” – Boston Globe
 

John Gorka Bio
From New Jersey, John Gorka is a world-renowned singer-songwriter who got his start at a neighborhood coffeehouse in eastern Pennsylvania. Though small, Godfrey Daniels was and is one of the oldest and most venerable music institutions and has long been a hangout for music lovers and aspiring musicians. In the late 1970’s, John was was one of these aspiring musicians. Although his academic coursework at Moravian College lay in Philosophy and History, music began to offer paramount enticements. Soon he found himself living in the club’s basement and acting as resident MC and sound man, encountering legendary folk troubadours like Canadian singer-songwriter Stan Rogers, Eric Andersen, Tom Paxton and Claudia Schmidt. Their brand of folk-inspired acoustic music inspired him, and before long he was performing his own songs – mostly as an opener for visiting acts. Soon he started traveling to New York City, where Jack Hardy’s legendary Fast Folk circle (a breeding ground for many a major singer-songwriter) became a powerful source of education and encouragement. Folk meccas like Texas’ Kerrville Folk Festival (where he won the New Folk Award in 1984) and Boston followed, and his stunningly soulful baritone voice and original songwriting began turning heads. Those who had at one time inspired him – Suzanne Vega, Bill Morrissey, Nanci Griffith, Christine Lavin, Shawn Colvin – had become his peers.

In 1987, the young Minnesota-based Red House Records caught wind of John’s talents and released his first album, I Know, to popular and critical acclaim. With unusual drive and focus, John hit the ground running and, when an offer came from Windham Hill’s Will Ackerman in 1989, he signed with that label’s imprint, High Street Records. He proceeded to record five albums with High Street over the next seven years: Land of the Bottom Line, Jack’s Crows, Temporary Road, Out of the Valley and Between Five and Seven. His albums and his touring (over 150 nights a year at times) brought new accolades for his craft. His rich multifaceted songs full of depth, beauty and emotion gained increasing attention from critics and audiences across the country, as well as in Europe where his tours led him through Italy, Belgium, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, Switzerland and Germany. He also started sharing tours with many notable friends—Nanci Griffith and Mary Chapin Carpenter among them. All this brought his music to an ever-widening audience. His video for the single “When She Kisses Me” found a long-term rotation on VH-1’s “Current Country,” as well as on CMT and the Nashville Network.

In 1998, after five successful recordings and seven years at Windham Hill/High Street, John felt the need for a change and decided to return to his musical roots at Red House Records. The choice was driven, in part, by the artistic integrity that the label represents in an industry where the business of music too often takes precedence. The 1998 release After Yesterday marked a decidedly different attitude towards making music for John, and his next release The Company You Keep held fast to his tradition of fine songwriting, yet moved forward down new avenues. Its fourteen songs displays John’s creative use of lyrics and attention to detail. Andy Stochansky played drums and shared production credits with John and Rob Genadek. Ani DiFranco, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Lucy Kaplansky and Patty Larkin contributed stellar guitar work and vocals to this fan favorite. Old Futures Gone was informed by his life as husband and father of two young children and also contained the colorful experience of many hard years on the road. Writing in the Margins followed in 2006 and was an engaging collection of sweet and serious songs that spanned many musical genres—folk, pop, country and soul—and featured guest vocalists Nanci Griffith, Lucy Kaplansky and Alice Peacock. Now with this, his 11th studio album, he returns to his roots with So Dark You See, his most compelling and traditional album to date.

In addition to his 11 critically acclaimed albums, John released a collector’s edition box featuring a hi-definition DVD and companion CD called The Gypsy Life. Windham Hill also released a collection of John’s greatest hits from the label called Pure John Gorka. In 2010, he also released an album with his friends and Red House label-mates Lucy Kaplansky and Eliza Gilkyson under the name Red Horse. Getting high praise from critics and fans alike, it landed on the Billboard Folk Charts and was one of the most played albums on folk radio.

Many well known artists have recorded and/or performed John Gorka songs, including Mary Chapin Carpenter, Nanci Griffith, Mary Black and Maura O’Connell. John has graced the stage of Austin City Limits, Mountain Stage, etown and has appeared on CNN. His new song “Where No Monuments Stand” is featured in the upcoming documentary Every War Has Two Losers, about activist and Oregon Poet Laureate William Stafford (1914-1993).

John Gorka lives in Minnesota and when not on the road, he enjoys spending time with his wife and children. He continues to tour, playing festivals, theaters and clubs all over North America and Europe.

 

 

Amilia K Spicer Bio
As the lyric from her song “Shotgun” implies, singer-songwriter Amilia K Spicer has a thing for wide-open spaces and exotic places. Even her record label name, Free Range, reflects her vagabond spirit—which has carried her from the rolling green hills of her native Pennsylvania, to the hill country of central Texas, and even the mountain monasteries of Nepal. She lives in Los Angeles and Austin, but she might tell you she feels most rooted when she’s heading toward a distant horizon, guided by the sky. Her label’s motto? “Don’t fence me in.”

The songs on her new album, Wow and Flutter, capture the vastness of those horizons with a cinematic quality, somehow sweeping us into the panorama as we listen. It should surprise no one that she pursued a career in film before music became her muse.

When Spicer answered music’s call, she was first discovered at a Los Angeles club. That led to a rare main stage Kerrville Folk Festival debut, three Kennedy Center performances, song placements in several high-profile TV productions (Party of Five, Dawson’s Creek), and more. Spicer’s first two releases, Like an Engine and Seamless were released to critical acclaim, with New Texas Magazine calling Spicer “A formidable talent.” Spicer’s music has also earned comparisons to that of Lucinda Williams, Emmylou Harris, and Lanois. During the writing process for Wow and Flutter, Spicer took time to work on several other projects. Among these, she has been lauded for her contributions to Cinnamon Girl: Women Artists Cover Neil Young and A Case for Case: A Peter Case Tribute with John Prine. She also appeared on the 2009 Safety Harbor Kids Holiday Collection, alongside Jackson Browne, Sheila E, and Paul Barrere. Spicer has enjoyed other collaborations as well, most notably appearing on albums by John Gorka and the final Rounder release from the late Bill Morrissey.

Spicer describes her folk-Americana style as red-dirt noir, evoking majestic vistas—and shadowy mysteries. Crafted on piano and more recently, guitar, her richly textured songs are sung in a honeyed alto that’s equal parts earthy and airy. Her sound is like glass: spun from sand and fire into something smooth and clear. And sometimes beautifully etched—with acid. The album’s title, a reference to pitch changes caused by imperfections in analog audio, was chosen in part because the sounds so sensual. “Wow and flutter reminds me of wax and wane, ebb and flow,” Spicer says. “Or something opening and closing, like a heart.” Moon, tide and heart fluctuations—and other natural-world phenomena—are part of Wow and Flutter’s essence. Its songs carry titles such as “Lightning,” “Windchill” and “Wild Horses”; they mention hurricanes, open flames and stones polished in the rain. A hoot owl calls at the start of “Shotgun,” which turns Native American- and African-influenced vocal undulations and delicate slide guitar into a truly hypnotic reverie. There’s an intimate sensuality, too, but it’s as if she’s dancing behind a veil, letting her music reveal what it may. However, in “Fill Me Up,” the western-tinged first track, when she sings the line, Shenandoah’s got secrets so deep, we can infer she’s talking about more than a mountain. In the soaring “What I’m Saying,” she declares her intent to find her purpose and place in the world. “I want to be a force to be reckoned with,” Spicer asserts. “I want to cause a beautiful commotion.“

 

Dining Options

You have two dining options when attending a show in our Concert Hall:

Rusty Anchor at the Music Box – If you’d enjoy a more extensive menu, we suggest you dine downstairs in the Rusty Anchor before your concert. The Rusty Anchor menu features a great mix of Cleveland Comfort food including a selection of seafood, steaks & chops. Reservations are required for parties of two or more. To make a dinner reservation, please click here or call our Box Office at (216) 242-1250 and allow 90 minutes to dine prior to the beginning of the show upstairs.

Concert Hall – Our Concert Hall menu is fast to the table and allows you to dine right in your ticketed seat. So, there is no additional reservation required. The Concert Hall kitchen will be open through intermission. Table side beverage service will continue throughout the concert.

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