I got turned on to John Gorka back in the very late 1980s. Brian Doser used to cover “Branching Out” and I actually heard his version before hearing the original. And then of course I listened to “I’m From New Jersey” over and over. Antje Duvekot is someone I’ve been listening to for several years, and completely love. She opened for Ellis Paul a while back, and I’ve since seen her perform several times solo. She always puts on a good show, and always engages the audience on a level that feels very personal and genuine.
Tonight Antje Duvekot and John Gorka shared the stage for two shows at McCabe’s in Santa Monica. I attended the 8 p.m. show, which was sold out. The show started at 8:05 p.m., with a short set by Antje Duvekot. John Gorka joined her for her first song, a very sweet and pretty rendition of Bob Dylan’s “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” (from Blood On The Tracks, one of the best albums ever recorded). John Gorka actually played electric guitar on this tune, a guitar clearly taken from McCabe’s walls, the price tag still hanging from its neck.
John then went back upstairs to the green room while Antje played some of her own excellent material, including “Gypsy,” “Mexico” and “The Life Of A Princess.” She then invited John Gorka back on stage for the final song of her set, “Merry-Go-Round.” Before that tune, she told the story of how the song was used in a television commercial, but how she had to rewrite a line of the song to eliminate the incredibly controversial word breasts. John provided backing vocals on this tune.
And then to save time, there was actually no break between sets. John Gorka simply began his set, with Antje Duvekot remaining on stage to provide backing vocals for his first two songs – “I Saw A Stranger With Your Hair” and “Blue Chalk.” Their voices sounded incredible together, by the way. After that, John played what he considers a good introductory song for any audience member who might not have seen him before – “I’m From New Jersey.” This song still makes me laugh. “I’m from New Jersey/I don’t expect too much/If the world ended today/I would adjust.”
John Gorka has a new album, Bright Side Of Down, which was released on March 4th (he joked that it’s still available). He played several tunes from it, including “More Than One,” “Holed Up In Mason City,” “Really Spring” and the title track. He also played the new CD’s sole cover, “She’s That Kind Of Mystery,” a song written by Bill Morrissey. (I became a big Bill Morrissey fan when I got turned onto folk music in the 1980s, and for several years whenever anyone mentioned Morrissey, I assumed he or she meant Bill Morrissey – I didn’t know who this other Morrissey guy was at the time.)
John Gorka played piano on “Houses In The Fields.” And for “Baby Blues” he played a G-sharp guitar. John Gorka, in case you don’t know, is incredibly funny and tells some excellent anecdotes between songs. In introducing “Baby Blues,” he talked about “being new to being an old blues man.”
After playing a request for “Semper Fi,” John invited Antje Duvekot to join him again for the rest of the set. And two of the final four songs were actually her compositions. She played “Anna,” a song about her grandmother, with John providing backing vocals, and “Sleepy Sea Of Indigo And Blue,” on which she also played harmonica, with John again providing backing vocals. John played “Branching Out” (which was another request) and ended the show with “Really Spring.” Antje provided backing vocals on both of those songs, and sings backing vocals on the CD track of “Really Spring” as well.
- You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
- The Life Of A Princess
- I Saw A Stranger With Your Hair
- Blue Chalk
- I’m From New Jersey
- More Than One
- Edgar The Party Man
- Bright Side Of Down
- Holed Up In Mason City
- Houses In The Fields
- Baby Blues
- She’s That Kind Of Mystery
- Semper Fi
- Branching Out
- Sleepy Sea Of Indigo And Blue
- Really Spring
There was no encore, though the audience clearly wanted one.
(Note: I almost always take photos at concerts and post a few along with the set lists, but at this venue, they really stressed the desire to not have any cameras or phones out during the show, and I decided to respect their wishes. So that is why there are no photos here.)