Eliza Gilkyson & John Gorka
ST JAMES HALL i
3214 West 10th Ave, Kitsilano
Accessible All ages
On May 3, 2011, Red House Records will release Eliza Gilkyson's first studio album in three years, Roses at the End of Time. This long-awaited sequel to 2008's highly-acclaimed Beautiful World reveals a songwriter at the height of her story-telling powers. (We are assured that she will have copies of the new CD with her when she comes to St. James Hall on April 17th with special guest John Gorka.)
Gilkyson's music has always reflected her vivid vision of the world around her, full of equal measures of joy and sorrow. The songs on Roses at the End of Time are no exception, each one a window into a life of struggle and triumph in a world "poised on the edge of moral, spiritual and economic bankruptcy." Her subjects range from the universal (the corrido "Vayan al Norte," already hailed as a modern-day "Deportees," and "Once I Had a Home," a reflection on Palestine that taps into all humankind's longing for place) to the deeply personal (the achingly vulnerable love song "Roses at the End of Time", and a poignant collection of fragmented memories of her mother, "Belle of the Ball").
Roses at the End of Time expands Gilkyson's considerable repertoire of socio-political commentary.
These days, political commentary is not limited to traditional folk music, she says.
Radical 'folk music' is coming out in every genre of music. The mold is being broken, and it's a great time to experiment with ways to get meaningful perspectives across to a receptive public.
For Gilkyson, this meaningful perspective embraces sympathy for those who suffer at the hands of unfair economic and social systems, along with a recognition of the need to reinvent the ways we live our lives and a desire to connect the dots between our own complacency and the decline of our culture. This is heavy stuff, but, as always with Gilkyson's work, it is balanced with a sense of humor and an abiding love for the natural world and the potential of the "angels of our better natures." Although she often claims her first goal in her music is to make great art, the overarching message of the storyteller-as-everyman in Roses at the End of Time is a gentle reminder for empathy. It is no accident that Gilkyson bookends these 11 vignettes with songs that illuminate her own personal struggles: "Midnight on Raton," which invokes the same wistful sense of loneliness as the Townes Van Zandt classic it references, and "Blue Moon Night," which delivers a fragile but tenacious message of hope found in the beauty of simpler things.
About the political undercurrent:
In keeping with her history of writing relevant socio-political commentary Eliza pokes fun at our desperate attempts to prolong youthfulness and deny our mortality in "Summerland," where "winter doesn't even show her face at all." The sinister slide guitar and trombone on "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" bluntly foreshadow the beast that is "waiting to be born" from WB Yeats '"The Second Coming," while "2153" makes not-so-gentle fun of right wing evangelism's "literal translation of every text and symbol, sacred work and screed." In "Vayan al Norte" she leads us effortlessly from English lyrics into a full blown corridos (borderland folk ballads) styled lament sung in Spanish from the point of view of undocumented Mexican immigrants trying to make a new life "en las tierras del norte," and she paints a portrait of grief and loss for a Palestinian refugee who still "holds the key" to his lost home and gazes out over "the wires and walls that hold us in" and keep him from ever going home again in "Once I Had a Home."
In the US and other First World Countries we have found it a lot easier to rationalize our taking control of the wealth of raw materials in Third World countries and funding "democracies" that support our corporations by demonizing the ones who resist that imposition of our will. This is sort of the elephant in the living room that affects all of the political arena today. It is uncomfortable to face this truth and to change our fundamental understanding of what the American Dream really is, but I do find myself thinking about it and writing about it, trying to put myself in the shoes of the so called 'enemy' and see why their hatred for us is not just fabricated out of thin air. In my songs I try to humanize them and make their stories real so they become more than just barely relevant statistics on a chart or in a buried news story.
Gorka is widely heralded for the sophisticated intelligence and provocative originality of his songs. — Boston Globe
John Gorka is an honoured icon of folk tradition. Energetic acoustic music that is not a trend, not a fad, but an expression of everyday life, is his trademark. John's rich baritone voice and unique songcraft weave a magical spell that can only be described as 'Gorka.' John returns to his roots with So Dark You See - his 11th studio album - his most compelling and traditional album to date. It has been widely praised as some of John's finest work. In addition to 11 critically acclaimed albums, John released a collector's edition box featuring a hi-definition DVD and companion CD called The Gypsy Life in 2007. Windham Hill recently released a collection of John's greatest hits from the label called Pure John Gorka. John has graced the stage of Austin City Limits, Mountain Stage, etown and has appeared on CNN. His new song "Where No Monument Stands" is featured in the upcoming documentary Every War Has Two Losers, about activist Oregon Poet Laureate William Stafford (1914-1993).