Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Grounding Gorka Singer’s 40-year tour brings him to Westminster series

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Photo courtesy of The Roots Agency
Singer and songwriter John Gorka will visit Westminster for Common Ground on the Hill’s Root Music Concert Series on Saturday.
It was the late 1980s when a fresh-faced guitarist decided to take his unique brand of acoustic folk music to stages across America. Since then, John Gorka says he has been going strong and is smack dab in the middle of his 40-year cross country tour.

Taking the stage at the Carroll Arts Center in Westminster at 8 p.m. Saturday, Gorka’s groundbreaking performance is part of the Common Ground on the Hill Roots Music Concert Series.

According to press materials, Gorka’s ‘‘music combines accessible elements of pop with social and political themes, leading many to consider him the Harry Chapin of his generation ... He sings about clever, slice of life situations, creating snapshot stories grounded in both poetry and reality.”

His first time playing for the Common Ground series, Gorka said he is looking forward to the show, which will be part of a smaller two or three show tour.

During the concert, the musician plans to perform a mix of songs from his 11 CDs released throughout the years, noting he never shows up at a concert with a play list, instead gauging the audience to determine the songs he’ll play.

‘‘I think that makes it more fun for everyone,” said Gorka, who lives in Minnesota with his wife and two children.

Gorka has been a songwriter since the age of 15. And other than the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band, a band from his college days, Gorka has been a solo act for 20-plus years.

Gorka describes his sound as inspiring folk music and tries to be ‘‘open to the inspiration coming from everywhere and anywhere,” he said.

Although he played through high school and college, Gorka’s musical career really took off a couple years after college when he found himself without a stable place to live. He asked the owner of Godfrey Daniels — a Pennsylvania coffeehouse catering to many folk singers through the years — if he could stay there for a while.

He set up residence in the basement and supported himself by serving as emcee, soundman and in any other roles required.

It was there that he met influential singers and discovered the path he needed to go on to find his own musical style.

‘‘I got to see people whose music was better than the songs on the radio or television,” he said, adding that he knew he wanted to pursue the same type of goals and what type of performer he wanted to be.

Since then, Gorka has performed in hundreds of coffee shops and clubs across the country, supporting himself with his music that is well-known in certain folk genre circles. With his soulful baritone voice and his songwriting skills, he’s been able to garner a loyal following.

His latest project has been a DVD compilation of 19 songs recorded by a friend in Los Angeles. The elaborate sounds and videos impressed Gorka who is proud of the work.

Gorka will perform Friday night in Philadelphia before coming out to Common Ground on the Hill.

‘‘It will be a nice run and I’m looking forward to the shows,” he said.

Common Ground on the Hill presents

John Gorka

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster

Tickets: $17 for adults, $15 for members, seniors and students with ID

For information:410-857-2771410-848-7272