Here is at least one instance where television had a positive influence on a child: Folk singer John Gorka credits the boob tube for heightening his awareness of country and bluegrass instruments, tools of the trade that a New Jersey native normally wouldn’t see.
“One of the things that attracted me was when I saw Flatt & Scruggs on ‘The Beverly Hillbillies,’ and that definitely got my attention,” Gorka said during a recent tour stop. “Then I fell in love with the banjo from watching it on ‘Hee-Haw’ and John Hartford on Glen Campbell’s TV show. The five-string banjo really got me into music, so I kind of keyed in on that.”
He has keyed so well that he’s on his sixth solo album, “Between Five and Seven” (High Street/Windham Hill), released Aug. 13.
Not bad for a singer-songwriter who honed his craft at Godfrey Daniel’s coffeehouse in the blue-collar environment of Bethlehem, Pa., and has become one of the leading purveyors of the new-folk movement.
“I love writing songs, and I love making records as well,” said Gorka, now living in Minnesota. “The first couple were not fun to make, but I was happy with the way they turned out. I’ve been able to enjoy the process as well as being happy with the results.”
For “Between Five and Seven,” Gorka wanted to make a record where at least some of it had the feel of being a band but with just the right touch of acoustic music.
“I recorded the first five songs with Mary-Chapin Carpenter’s band; they had a couple days off in Minnesota,” said Gorka, who was produced by Carpenter’s longtime collaborator, John Jennings. “We got those songs done in two days, and that was mostly the band things. I went in for a couple days by myself and a few other days with Peter Ostroushko (mandolin) and Dean McGraw (acoustic guitar) and Michael Manring (fretless bass).”
Gorka realizes his music probably will never have massive mainstream appeal, “but the people I do reach I hope it will affect them in a strong way.”