Singer-songwriter to bring ‘Bright Side of Down’ to Ann ArborWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | email@example.com
When John Gorka’s warm baritone sings about spring, the sun feels closer and the snow seems to melt.
Listen to “Really Spring” from his new disc, “Bright Side of Down”: “If this were really spring and not just a thaw/ I’d get out my colored pencils and I’d set about to draw / Soon there would be flowers and soon there would be green/ My yellows and my blues to match the greenest green I’ve seen.”
Or “Thirstier World”: “Every spring is a victory when the winters are this long.”
“They’ve said it’s the coldest winter in 35 years, and I’ve been here about 18,” Gorka said during a call from his Minnesota home. “But it’s been in the 50s the past couple of days, which is an improvement.”
Released March 4, “Bright Side of Down” finds the singer-songwriter in a familiar place — telling stories, reflecting on life, sharing his wit, playing with words.
“I knew fairly early on that I wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t know music was going to be the way,” Gorka said. “I was always struck by the power of words when I read fiction. I was just so impressed with how a good writer can tell a story; the way of telling a story means as much as the story itself.”
Guitar in hand, he’s been sharing stories since opening for fellow folky Nanci Griffith in 1984 at the Godfrey Daniels Coffee House in Bethlehem, Pa. She encouraged him to play the Kerrville Folk Festival; he won the new folk award that year
“For me, it often starts with that first line, which is kind of the key that opens the door to a song. But the songs can start in anyway; I just try to be open to any possible way a song can start. Sometimes it’s with an image, sometimes it’s with a lyrical phrase, other times it’s something I find myself playing on the guitar,” Gorka said.
“Often what I try to do is get out of the way of a song. I try to allow the song become what it wants to be. I think sometimes people get a writer’s block [when] the song they want to write is not the song that’s trying to come out. You have to pay attention to the song that’s trying to surface instead of the song that you might want to bring into the world.”
Gorka will play at 8 p.m. April 27 at the Ark in Ann Arbor. Antje Duvekot will open. Tickets are $20; doors open at 7:30 p.m.
“I don’t go into a show with a set list. I have some idea of what I’ll start off with, but then the audience often has ideas for songs that are better than the ones I thought of doing, so I try to be open to that,” he said.