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    John Gorka
    The Turning Point
    March 9, 2000

Despite a somewhat extended hiatus from live performances—a “paternity leave” as he jokingly called it, John Gorka played to two sold out houses at The Turning Point. And even though the small, subterranean space at this well-known venue in suburban New York seats no more than 100, filling every seat on a Thursday evening for two shows in a row is no mean feat. Of course, Gorka is arguably one of the most entertaining singer-songwriters on the folk circuit today, as the packed Turning Point audience no doubt knew. Clearly these were fans, the majority of whom seemed to be aware of every song, recorded and unrecorded that Gorka has penned. They called out requests all through the first show, pleading for songs from albums as far back as Jack’s Crows all the way up to the newest, most eclectic record, After Yesterday. Gorka was in fine voice, opening with a lively rendition of “St. Caffeine,” following with such equally familiar older tunes as “I’m From New Jersey” and where “The Bottles Break,” both from the aforementioned Jack’s Crows CD. A special treat was Gorka’s deep-voiced, emotional spin on Eric Andersen’s classic “Thirsty Boots.” Widely requested was “the Judy Garland song,” as one audience member put it, and Gorka accommodated her despite struggling with a few of the verses in this ode to the legendary songstress.

In fact, Gorka had difficulty remembering the words to many of the songs he agreed to play, including “I Saw A Stranger” and “One Of Your Own,” two of Gorka’s hauntingly beautiful tunes that have won him the loyal and devoted following he enjoys today. Eventually, Gorka, dressed in a classic black blazer, black jeans and white T-shirt, played some newer songs from After Yesterday, offering up flawless performances of “When The Ice Goes Out,” “Amber Lee,” “Cyprus Trees” (at my sixteen-year-old daughter’s urging) and “When He Cries” a hysterically funny little ode to his newborn son, with whom he has been spending a great deal of his time of late. In my opinion, even a rusty John Gorka is a treat to see in live performance, particularly in intimate venues such as The Turning Point, where the sound is excellent and the performer is easily seen from virtually anywhere in the room. Gorka may have forgotten the words to some of his songs—an impressive volume indeed, but his following clearly hasn’t forgotten him—or how clever and worthwhile he is in live shows despite an occasional memory lapse. This reviewer is glad to see him back, flaws and all. —Ralph DiGennaro

    If you are a John Gorka fan, you will want to check out our back Issue 5, featuring an interview with John Gorka from a few years back!

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