John Gorka (born July 27, 1958) is a contemporary American folk musician. In 1991, Rolling Stone magazine called him "the preeminent male singer-songwriter of what has been dubbed the New Folk Movement."
Gorka received his first guitar as a Christmas gift. He eventually learned, instead, to play the banjo, and began performing in a folk music group at his church.
Gorka attended Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he studied philosophy and history. He graduated from Moravian in 1980.
As of 2005, he was residing in the St. Croix Valley area near Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Gorka formed the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band with Doug Anderson and Russ Rentler and would also include guitarist Richard Shindell. After graduating from Moravian, he began performing solo at Godfrey Daniels coffee house in South Bethlehem as the opening act for various musicians including Nanci Griffith, Bill Morrissey, Claudia Schmidt and Jack Hardy. In 1984, Gorka was one of six winners chosen from the finalists in the New Folk competition at the Kerrville Folk Festival. Since then he has regularly toured Europe and North America.
John Gorka at VPRO Studio, Hilversum
He has appeared with artists such as Suzanne Vega, Shawn Colvin, Michael Manring, Christine Lavin, Dave Van Ronk, Cliff Eberhardt, David Massengill, Frank Christian and Lucy Kaplansky. He joined with Kaplansky and Eliza Gilkyson to form the folk supergroup Red Horse in 2010, touring together and releasing a self-titled album on which they performed each other's compositions. Red Horse toured through July 2014.
In March 2014, Gorka continued his long relationship with Red House Records with the release of the acoustic CD, Bright Side of Down.
John Gorka in The Hague, Netherlands
- I Know (Red House, 1987)
- Land of the Bottom Line (Windham Hill/High Street, 1990)
- Jack's Crows (Windham Hill/High Street, 1991)
- Temporary Road (Windham Hill/High Street, 1992)
- Out of the Valley (Windham Hill/High Street, 1994)
- Between Five and Seven (Windham Hill/High Street, 1996)
- After Yesterday (Red House, 1998)
- The Company You Keep (Red House, 2001)
- Old Futures Gone (Red House, 2003)
- Writing in the Margins (Red House, 2006)
- So Dark You See (Red House, 2009)
- Bright Side of Down (Red House, 2014)
- Before Beginning: The Unreleased I Know [Nashville, 1985] (Red House, 2016)
- True in Time (Red House, 2018)
"Best of" albums
On various artists compilations
- See various issues of Fast Folk Musical Magazine for early recordings.
- "I Saw a Stranger with Your Hair" on Legacy: A Collection of New Folk Music (Windham Hill, 1989)
- "Christmas Bells", on A Winter's Solstice, Vol. III (Windham Hill, 1990)
- "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" on A Tribute to Bob Dylan, Vol. 2 (SIS, 1994)
- "The Gypsy Life" on The Live from Mountain Stage, Vol. 8 (Blue Plate, 1995)
- "The Water is Wide" on Where Have All the Flowers Gone: The Songs of Pete Seeger (Wundertüte Musik, 1998)
- "Sweet Love" on "Treasures Left Behind: Remembering Kate Wolf" (Red House, 1998)
- "Bracero" on What's That I Hear?: The Songs of Phil Ochs (Sliced Bread, 1998)
- "Thirsty Boots" (Eric Andersen) on Bleecker Street: Greenwich Village in the 1960s (Astor Place Records, 1999)
- "Girl from the North Country" on A Nod to Bob: An Artists' Tribute to Bob Dylan on His 60th Birthday (Red House, 2001)
- "Do La Lay", "Things We've Handed Down" and others on Down at the Sea Hotel (La Montagne Secrète, 2007)