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John Gorka

"John's songs are timeless and people sense that, even hearing him for the first time. He's far more than just an entertainer; he's an entire generation's poet."

-- Gary Gackstatter, Conductor
Winfield Regional Symphony
Winfield, Kansas

“Listening to John Gorka sing, one can get goosebumps all over. There are many reasons — fresh lyrics, a stunning emotional baritone voice, his twisted humor — but to focus on one limits the experience.”  New York Times

Old Future's Gone

Manifesto of a Folk Singer

At the website there is a section entitled On The Road. Click on the page and you will see a few short entries written by John about the site and his music. In the entry entitled Folk Manifesto John writes:

"I consider myself to be an aspiring folk singer, not an accomplished one. I think of modern folk music to be more of an attitude or an approach than a musical style. Folk music is music that makes a difference in people's lives and one that finds a useful place. And there is more than one way to get there. To make music that makes a difference is the ideal. I guess that is my mission statement, my musical manifesto."

Despite all the packaging done today by record companies and the hype associated with popular music, John has chosen a different path and in the process has found an audience that appreciates his inclination to "move along when the crowd is right, stand alone when the crowd is wrong." We don't often hear folk music on the radio and may have to dig deep in the bins to find it at the record stores, but his music, folk music, is out there.

Those of us touched by folk music in general, and John's music in particular are not just attending a concert, but participating in something that enriches our lives and fills in the gaps of an all too busy society. What John does is as much about community as it is about music. He does make a difference in people's lives. Attending a show and seeing his smile, spotting familiar faces, hearing favorite songs that ignite the spirit are all a testimonial to how much we value it in our lives. It is the connection we make with John and with each other that keeps us coming back year after year to hear the music that, for many of us, has become the soundtrack of our lives.

As an audience, every time we show up at a Gorka show or an open mic at the local coffee house to hear other aspiring folk singers, we are supporting people that truly make a difference. We are supporting the folk community: the artist, the promoter, the booking agent, the festival organizer, the independent record store -- all people who care about the music and give it a home. Each time we put our $5, $8 or $10 in the coffer we are doing our part to support this community of musicians, troubadours, storytellers and sponsors.

The old joke says that there are literally hundreds of dollars to be made in folk music. Most people in the folk biz aren't getting rich following this path less traveled so, if not for the money, why do they do it?

Performers find their lives enriched as people connect with their work. In turn they give their audience something to take away, a story, a chorus that rings true, a laugh, a CD to share. The idea that folk music can make a difference in peoples lives and find a useful place is not knew. Folk has always been music written on demand to fill a need, to answer a prayer, to enlighten a soul and enliven the sprit. It is the kind of music that makes a difference in peoples lives. It music about community.

John Gorka is a folk singer who in his humbleness to aspire, inspires our lives. His writing speaks to our experiences. His stories illuminate the people we know. His spirit speaks to the hopes and fears we share. His songs are timeless. Not everyone who hears a Gorka lyric will find that common thread, but for those of us who do get it, his music is a direct link to emotion. What we might not be able to express he does. When we hear a Gorka song, the manifesto of this folk singer is realized.

In the words of my favorite writer,

Until long after it matters
You don't know if you're good enough
You can bet your dreams will be battered
So just go after what you love


by P. Bryn Benson, the music junkie

Another web site has been created by the KING of all John Gorka fans, our friend from Holland, Jos Van Vliet. Please visit The John Gorka Video Site for cool video clips and more!

Access our guest book by clicking on these links. Click here to sign the guest book and here to view the guest book.

A new improved forum is in the works. Check back soon for a full featured discussion forum.

We hope you will take the time to view our many previous guest books. Click here  and at A lot of nice comments can be read here that were posted before we started setting up the new discussion forum.

Click here for information on how to join the John Gorka Discussion list. Become a "Good Noiser" and share in this community of others who appreciate the music of John Gorka.

Please check out John's official web site at        

j o h n g o r k a . c o m


Why we do the thing we do.

The music of John Gorka.

More of the music of John Gorka.

John Gorka 's tour itinerary.

Other John Gorka information on the Internet.

Photographs of John Gorka, or people we think look like John Gorka, sent to us by you.

Encounters with John Gorka.


News update from "The main creative project at the moment is a DVD which should be out this summer. The final format is still being worked out but I can tell you it will be very high quality video and audio. The main part of the DVD is a performance of 19 songs recorded live without an audience at a theatre in Los Angeles. The players and singers include: Michael Manring on bass, Russ Rentler on mandolin, Amilia Spicer on vocals, and Susan Werner on guitar, piano and vocals. I’m in there as well playing and singing as you might expect. I will post the set list when that is finalized. The DVD is entitled “The Gypsy Life” and the band’s working name is “The Godfrey Daniels Spasm Band”. Anyway, I’ll sign off now and get this up on the site."

Bryn and I are both very busy these days and have not added much new content to this web site for a long time. We both try to see John whenever we can.  I find myself taking deliberate breaks from the music of John Gorka so that when I return to some serious listening, I am delighted to find old friends in his songs and then I listen non-stop, like mad for weeks to nothing else but Gorka. There still is no finer voice or song-writing talent out there, in my humble opinion.  Please send us anything you would like to see added to this site and hopefully we can jumpstart it once again.  We have many old links to correct so please bear with us.  John's management / booking agency is now
The Roots Agency and John is still managed by the wonderful David Tamulevich.

Nothing like a new CD of wonderful songs to motivate us to update this web site and get back to all things Gorka!

John's new CD, "Writing in the Margins" was released July 11, 2006 on Red House Records (RHR CD 194).   This CD is sure to satisfy new-Gorka-music-starved fans all over the universe. It is simply wonderful. My personal favorite right now is "Broken Place." It is a perfect song, beautiful lyrics, John's voice is exquisite, the blend of the harmonies and music and his amazing voice just blow me away and for me, is what music is all about. I just get lost listening to this song and listen to it over and over and over again. There is not a single lyric on this CD that could be improved in any fashion. Tell your friends to buy this must-have CD directly from Red House Records. --Susan

The CD contains twelve new songs as follows:

1. Chance of Rain
2. Broken Place
3. Satellites
4. Writing In The Margins
5. Snow Don't Fall
6. Bluer State
7. Arm's Length
8. The Lockkeeper
9. I Miss Everyone
10. When You Sing
11. Road Of Good Intentions
12. Unblindfold The Referee

A few previews:

"John Gorka returns with his most compelling and powerful collection of new songs with guest appearances by Nanci Griffith, Lucy Kaplansky and Alice Peacock. The songs brilliantly cover a variety of themes regarding the human condition, but the stunning centerpiece is the title track. Written from the point of view of a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan, it is an amazingly moving song." "Scathing beauty... Gorka makes even the harshest observations beautiful." (Dallas Morning News) "His piercing poetic lyrics are as arresting as his vocals... folk heaven." (San Diego Union Tribune)

 "I don’t have as much time,” he lamented when asked if he still felt inspired to write new songs. “The working title of the record I’m working on now is Writing in the Margins because that’s kind of what I have to do with songwriting"......PortFolio Weekly, January 10, 2006

"Lockkeeper" , always one of my favorites, written by Stan Rogers, first recorded by John for Red House Records' "The Folkscene Collection, The Heart of Studio A"  in 1998 (RHR109).  "Snow Don't Fall", a beautiful love song,  was written and performed by the late Townes Van Zandt.  John's wife, Laurie Allman, co-wrote "I Miss Everyone", "Bluer State", "Chance of Rain" and "Broken Place."

In the meantime, apparently without John's knowing,  his old record label, Windham Hill, is releasing a compilation of old songs John recorded for them over the years.  This new CD is entitled "Pure" and will be released on June 27, 2006.

Songs include:

1. Looking Forward
2. Jack's Crows
3. Blue Chalk
4. I Saw a Stranger With Your Hair
5. Lightning's Blues
6. The Gypsy Life
7. Silence
8. Vinnie Charles Is Free
9. Where the Bottles Break
10. That's Why
11. Houses in the Fields
12. When She Kisses Me
13. The Ballad of Jamie Bee
14. I'm From New Jersey
15. Italian Girls

John also appears singing harmony on Geoff Bartley's "Cut by the Wire" on his "One Kind Word" CD.

Please write to us at The Gypsy Life. Feel free to ask any questions you have and we'll try to answer them as soon as we can. We just became aware that the "Contact us" link on almost every page went to a defunct address so we apologize over the years if people felt their email messages were being ignored. We are in the process of revamping this site and correcting errors.

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