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Slaid Cleaves – John Gorka a night with old friends!

The thing I love about writing this blog is finding new musicians to listen to, but what I often don’t take the time to do is listen to the ones I love! So the other night over the last hour of work I listened to two of my old favorites. First Slaid Cleaves and then John Gorka. Like many of the folks I listen to my introduction to Slaid Cleaves came from the Gene Shay Show on WXPN in Philly. It was a Sunday night that I was working and remembered to turn on Gene’s show and caught the end of  “Broke Down”. I didn’t recognize the name but I immediately went out to find the album. It took a couple of trips to my favorite used CD store to find it but it eventually showed up and I’ve been a fan since the first listen! My wife and I have seen him several times here in Philadelphia. The last time was at the Tin Angel for a CD release show for Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away and every time I leave a show a happy man!  The first time we saw him was at the  The Point in Bryn Mawr, Pa (I miss that place) and my daughter went with us. Before the show I saw Slaid at the bar and asked if he’d play my daughter’s favorite song “Lydia”. He said he was going to do it as part of the show. When he started the song he screwed up the lyrics! After the show we got Elizabeth an autographed photo which is in her room somewhere, the signature says “Sorry I messed up your song!!” One year for Christmas My wife sent away for several of Slaid’s earlier CDs and they all came autographed!! Anyway, it was good the other night to hear old favorites like “Broke Down”, “Key Chain”, “No Angel Knows” and “The Ballad of Sandy Gray”! My into to John Gorka was from the album Legacy: A Collection of New Folk Music. It was an  album designed to introduce fifteen young singer songwriters and the group that they collected was pretty great. Here’s what folk radio host for WNEW-FM , Pete Fornatal said in his liner notes for the album:

The depth and breadth of this new scene is truly staggering. The only constant is diversity. Sure, it owes a debt to the great American Folk Tradition, but call any of the fifteen artist gathered on this sampler a “folkie” and you’re liable to get smashed over the head with a six-string acoustic guitar! This is, after all, the post-Dylan era of American music. The old labels simply don’t work anymore. Especially when it comes to the arts. It’s just an annoying habit we human have of categorizing anything and everything. There’s no need for it. At all. Period.

Years later John Gorka recalled these events:

“Windham Hill decided to include one of my songs on the first Legacy songwriters compilation. Before it was even released, Will Ackerman called to say that they would like me to record for them. Land of the Bottom Line came out shortly thereafter….”[1]

Other artist that the album introduced me to were: Pierce Pettis,  Cliff Eberhardt, David Massengill Iain Matthews,  Sara Hickman and Bill Morrissey. The Bill Morrissey song on the album “Handsome Molly” is still one of my favorites as is the Gorka contribution “I Saw a Stranger with Your Hair”. “I Saw a Stranger with Your Hair” was one of the songs I listened to the other night along with “Temporary Road”, and “Land of the Bottom Line” Anyway it was a good night of old tunes, check them out!! Here’s  Slaid with “Broke Down”. On my list of top favorite songs!