Singer and songwriter John Gorka performs Sunday |

Singer and songwriter John Gorka performs Sunday

Staff Report

Pre-eminent singer and songwriter of the New Folk movement John Gorka will perform at 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17, at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen.

Born in New Jersey and famed for his rich, expressive baritone, Gorka began playing the banjo in his early teens. In high school, he started writing songs and singing with a church folk group. When he went to Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa., he started performing in school coffeehouses and in the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band, a non-traditional bluegrass, country, blues and folk band.

By the early 1980s, he was opening act at Godfrey Daniels, a coffeehouse in Pennsylvania where he met Nanci Griffith, Bill Morrissey, Claudia Schmidt and Jack Hardy. Griffith encouraged him to enter the Kerrville Folk Festival’s New Folk competition, which he won in 1984. Hardy invited him to record for the Fast Folk Musical magazine and introduced him to the revitalized Greenwich Village folk scene.

Not wishing to be billed as a generic, contemporary singer and songwriter, he became known as “the intense white guy from New Jersey.” Still living in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania, Gorka became, in his words, “an outpatient of the New York folk scene.”

To make ends meet, Gorka delivered flowers during the day and played in bars at night, hanging out at Godfrey Daniels and going to open stages on off-nights.

Red House Records released his first record, “I Know,” in September 1987. “I Know” helped Gorka establish himself as a touring artist. He went on to release “Land of the Bottom Line,” “Jack’s Crows,” “Temporary Road,” “Out of the Valley” and “Between Five and Seven” for Windham Hill’s High Street Records.

His latest release, “The Company You Keep,” is a refreshing mix of arrangements and voices, some humorous, some serious, always thoughtfully entertaining.

Tickets for the performance are $18. To purchase tickets or for more information, call the Wheeler Box Office at 920-5770 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or go to

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