When: 6 p.m., Sunday
Information: sohosb.com or 962-7776
“What is true in time? Does it really change with every season or is it always fixed and bound to reason?” croons folk music veteran John Gorka on the title track of his 2018 album True in Time.
Mr. Gorka wrote the songs for the album with the theme of time in mind. He told the News-Press that the Utah Philips line, “the past didn’t go anywhere,” kept running through his head while writing.
“I guess that’s one of the themes, that the past is sometimes more present than we’re willing to admit. And in some cases it’s like my ‘Cry for Help’ song. The past overwhelms us.”
The past is certainly present in Mr. Gorka’s latest offering. “True in Time” is his 14th studio album and his decades of experience as a world-renowned folk singer-songwriter are on full display.
A New Jersey native, Mr. Gorka got his start playing at Godfrey Daniels coffee house while at Bethlehem, PA’s Moravian College. It was here that he first learned of the “folk singer” and realized that it was the profession for him, Mr. Gorka told the News-Press.
In the 80s, he was involved with “Fast Folk,” Jack Hardy’s legendary circle which was a breeding ground for many a major singer-songwriter. It became a powerful source of education and encouragement for Mr. Gorka.
Now, after releasing multiple records with Red House and High Street Records, winning critical acclaim for his contributions to the New Folk movement, and having his songs covered by the likes of Mary Chapin Carpenter, Nanci Griffith, Mary Black and Maura O’Connell, Mr. Gorka said that his past still influences his writing.
Music has always been a way for Mr. Gorka to express himself in ways he feels he can’t communicate through conversation, something he discovered as a part of the folk music community he found so inspiring.
“The main reason for writing songs continues to be I don’t feel like I can express myself adequately through talking. I feel like with songs I can combine what I can articulate with the lyrics and combine it with sounds that can express things that I can’t find words for. That has been the same since the beginning. That hasn’t changed,” said Mr. Gorka.
Locals can catch John Gorka solo at 6 p.m. Sunday at SOhO. Amilia K. Spicer will be performing as the opener, offering her style of Americana/folk rock that she describes as “red-dirt noir, evoking majestic vistas—and shadowy mysteries”. The Sunday show will be the third and last California stop for Mr. Gorka, who will also be playing in Santa Monica Friday and Tehachapi Saturday.
Mr. Gorka has a busy schedule for the rest of the year and into 2020. His next few stops will take him to New Mexico, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Maine and Maryland. Mr. Gorka said that he likes going out a few days at a time, maintaining the sense that he’s really always on tour.
“I think of my travelling as one big tour, like a 50-year tour. I kind of expanded things. It was going to be a 40-year tour but it looks like both kids are going to college, so now it’s a 50-year tour,” said Mr. Gorka.
You can expect a night of songs and stories, but Mr. Gorka wants to make clear you don’t need to know anything about him when you go to the show. Mr. Gorka has been performing his beautiful songs for decades and over time he realized that he has to play for new fans as well as old. A few years ago he started asking audiences who there had seen him play live before and realized that often the majority of the crowd was seeing him for the first time. He said he calls them “the new people” and now makes sure to make them feel welcome.
“People who don’t really know my music or don’t really know all that much about my personal history, they can come and not feel like outsiders,” said Mr. Gorka.
When asked if he had a favorite song on “True in Time,” Mr. Gorka had trouble choosing. He referenced his friend and quoted, “They’re all my children, even the ugly ones”. He admitted that he is particularly fond of the track “Mennonite Girl”, which is also one of his favorite songs to perform. Mr. Gorka also enjoys performing “Nazarene Guitar” and “Arroyo Seco”.
Mr. Gorka brought his years of experience to writing the new album, but the songs concert-goers will hear Sunday night will still be a unique treat. The 13 songs on “True in Time” were mostly done in three days, said Mr. Gorka. It was the first time in a while he recorded with everyone singing and playing at the same time.
“There were very minimal overdubs. I think we were able to catch something special by just being very much in the moment, with all the players knowing what they played there, what we played together, was going to be the record,” said Mr. Gorka, “They’re very good musicians. It was lots of fun to do.”