In many ways, John Gorka is a quintessential folkie: sensitive to the forces of nature and the political trade winds, personally reflective but with a global perspective that translates to the common man, keenly observant, wryly witty, possessing a warm baritone voice, sufficiently off-center to be consistently fresh and interesting, reasonably poetic, from New Jersey (which, of course, boasts the Walt Whitman Service Area on the Turnpike). By now a longtime Minnesotan, Gorka last month released his 11th album of new material, So Dark You See (Red House), which may sound like Dr. Seuss but actually comes from "Diminishing Winds," one of several excellent new tunes that explore life's bittersweet turns. It's a loose theme that threads through songs about sad farewells, uncertain futures, hard times, and unrequited yearning. The goodbyes include "A Fond Kiss," a Robert Burns poem set to new music, a quiet original about a friend's sudden death ("Can't Get Over It") that muses on the ephemeral, and a fine cover of the late Utah Phillips's "I Think of You." "Ignorance and Privilege" is autobiography in the context of larger problems, and contemporary issues seep in via "Night into Day" and "Live By the Sword," which seems to vent on the previous occupants of D.C. Glimmers of hope, meanwhile, come from a fine version of the blues nugget "Trouble in Mind."
Sat., Nov. 14, 7 p.m., 2009