About John Gorka
John Gorka is a world-renowned singer-songwriter who got his start at a neighborhood coffeehouse in eastern Pennsylvania, Godfrey Daniels, one of the oldest and most venerable music institutions that has long been a hangout for music lovers and aspiring musicians. In the late 1970’s, John was was one of these aspiring musicians, and found himself living in the club’s basement and acting as resident MC and sound man, encountering legendary folk troubadours like Stan Rogers, Eric Andersen, Tom Paxton and Claudia Schmidt. Before long John was performing his own songs, and traveled to New York, where Jack Hardy’s legendary Fast Folk circle became a powerful source of education and encouragement. Folk meccas like Texas’ Kerrville Folk Festival (where he won the New Folk Award in 1984) and Boston followed, and his stunningly soulful baritone voice and original songwriting began turning heads. Those who had at one time inspired him – Suzanne Vega, Bill Morrissey, Nanci Griffith, Christine Lavin, Shawn Colvin – had become his peers.
In 1987, the young Minnesota-based Red House Records caught wind of John’s talents and released his first album, I Know, to popular and critical acclaim. With unusual drive and focus, John signed with High Street Records in 1989, recording five albums over the next seven years. His albums and touring brought new accolades for his craft. His rich multifaceted songs full of depth, beauty and emotion gained increasing attention from critics and audiences across the country, as well as in Europe with tours in Italy, Belgium, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, Switzerland and Germany. He also toured with many notable friends, including Nanci Griffith and Mary Chapin Carpenter. His video for “When She Kisses Me” found a long-term rotation on VH-1’s “Current Country,” as well as on CMT and the Nashville Network.
In 1998 John returned to his musical roots at Red House Records. The 1998 release After Yesterday marked a decidedly different musical attitude for John, and his next release The Company You Keep held fast to his tradition of fine songwriting. Old Futures Gone was informed by his life as husband and father of two young children and also contained the experience of many years on the road. Writing in the Margins followed in 2006 and was an engaging collection of sweet and serious songs that spanned many musical genres—folk, pop, country and soul—and featured guest vocalists Nanci Griffith, Lucy Kaplansky and Alice Peacock. Now with his 11th studio album, he returns to his roots with So Dark You See, his most compelling and traditional album to date.
In addition to his 11 critically acclaimed albums, John released a collector’s edition box featuring a DVD and companion CD, The Gypsy Life. Windham Hill also released a collection of John’s greatest hits from the label, Pure John Gorka. In 2010, he released an album with his friends and Red House label-mates Lucy Kaplansky and Eliza Gilkyson under the name Red Horse. Getting high praise from critics and fans alike, it landed on the Billboard Folk Charts and was one of the most played albums on folk radio.
Many well known artists have recorded and performed John Gorka songs, including Mary Chapin Carpenter, Nanci Griffith, Mary Black and Maura O’Connell. John has graced the stage of Austin City Limits, Mountain Stage, and etown. His new song “Where No Monuments Stand” is featured in the upcoming documentary Every War Has Two Losers, about activist and Oregon Poet Laureate William Stafford (1914-1993).
John Gorka lives in Minnesota and continues to tour, playing festivals, theaters and clubs all over North America and Europe.
About Michael Johnson
In his 40-plus years in the music business, guitarist and songwriter Michael Johnson has quietly compiled an impressive catalog as performer and songwriter. He has shared the stage and studio with the likes of John Denver, Leo Kottke and Peter Yarrow, and his songwriting credits include two #1 Country hits, a #1 Pop hit and a #1 R&B song. Johnson has established himself as a craftsman of gentle, virtuosic music, replete with thoughtful lyrics and unpretentiously dazzling guitar playing.
This Denver native got his start in music in a very different way. At age 13, he contracted a severe case of pneumonia, which kept him bedridden for several months. Stuck in bed next to his brother (who had a broken leg), the two of them learned the guitar at the same time, their mutual exploration of the instrument proving to be a great catalyst. By the time they recuperated, they got booked for their first gig, and Michael knew he had found his calling.
A talent contest win cut Johnson’s collegiate career short, and he started touring clubs extensively. He took a break from this to study with guitar master Graciano Tarrago in Barcelona, and even spent a year acting in an off-Broadway play. Upon his return to the music scene, he adopted a jazzy, folk feel and created some of his most enduring music, including “Bluer Than Blue”.
Johnson spent nearly 20 years living in Minneapolis, and his annual Christmas shows at the Guthrie Theater became the stuff of legend. Now residing in Nashville where he is a busy songwriter, Johnson returns to Minneapolis only occasionally for special, intimate shows.
Facts About The Artist
- an American pop, country and folk singer-songwriter and guitarist. He is best known for his 1978 hit song “Bluer Than Blue”. To date, he has charted four hits on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and nine more on the Hot Country Songs charts, including two Number One country hits in 1986′s “Give Me Wings” and “The Moon Is Still Over Her Shoulder”. He also co-wrote “Cain’s Blood”, the debut single of 1990s country group 4 Runner.
- In August 2007, Johnson underwent successful quadruple bypass heart surgery. A charitable organization, “Friends of Michael Johnson,” was temporarily set up to help defray medical expenses.
What Other People Have Been Saying...
“A dazzling guitarist and wonderfully expressive singer. No two shows are alike.” -Billboard Magazine
“The warmth of his voice, guitar and the club was embracing on a very cold Tuesday night.” - Jon Bream, Minneapolis StarTribune. Read the full article here