John Gorka: Building A Bridge Of Folk Music

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John Gorka is what I sometimes call a "bridge" artist: someone who passes along a musical tradition while also showcasing his own modern voice.

Gorka was inspired to become a folk musician in the early '80s, while working (and living) in a coffeehouse frequented by artists who were at the heart of the '60s folk revival. Godfrey Daniels, a club in Bethlehem, Penn., became Gorka's folk classroom, as artists such as Tom Paxton and Stan Rogers crossed its stage, performing intimate acoustic music.

Without talented artists such as Gorka and his contemporaries to mind the path, this kind of personal, meaningful and human music might have slipped away. That would have been a tragedy, because Gorka's songs tell real stories about real people — you, me, your family and friends. It helps that he's a great writer who knows how to put a tune to a tale. On stage, he's very engaging, often interacting with the audience. But in person, Gorka can be quite shy, even around people he's known for a while.

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