April 7, 2007

Gordon Bok

Gordon Bok
... Traditional Ballads of the Land & Sea ...


ven a casual sailor like me was brought to the verge of tears as Gordon sang the life story of a Patchogue schooner that he crewed on, — just one song in an evening of warm and moving tales and ballads of a life on the sea and on the stage — poems and stories set to music and related in Gordon's warm resonant baritone.

ordon Bok grew up around the boatyards of Camden, Maine, and worked on many different boats from fishing boats to passenger schooners to yachts, on his own coast and others. As he sailed, he learned songs and ballads of the sea and the schooners and the fishes and fishermen. Later he sang of mythical sea folk, seals and selkies who came to him in dreams and legends.

t a time when folk music was experiencing a great revival, he was a leader in preserving, collecting, creating and sharing a wide variety of rich and intensely beautiful songs of both land and sea. His mastery of both the 6- and 12-string guitars added to his already well-developed vocal expression to create an unmistakable style that has carried him through decades of being one of our most cherished folk artists. He has made more than a score of albums, and many other musicians, including Archie Fisher, Liam Clancy and Tommy Makem, have recorded his songs. In addition, his music has been used in films and published in folk music anthologies, including Rise Up Singing≠ and his own collections, Time and The Flying Snow and One To Sing, One To Haul.

GORDON BOK ordon grew up in a musical home and started playing guitar when he was nine. After high school, he worked on boats and collected sea songs. During the winter, he worked as a carpenter and teacher in Philadelphia where he discovered a thriving folk music scene and began performing. Dissatisfied with the images generally portrayed of people who work on the water, he began to write songs based in the experiences of those he knew, real people whose language was honest, whose feelings were credible. These early works, songs like Bay of Fundy, began to get attention, as did his rich voice and fluid guitar work. Paul Stookey, of the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary, produced Gordonís first album for Verve.

esides his countless solo appearances, Gordon toured for nearly thirty years with the trio: Bok, Muir and Trickett. In addition to performing in concert halls, coffeehouses and festivals throughout the U.S., Canada, Great Britain and Scandinavia, Gordon has taught choral singing and song writing at summer music camps and other gatherings. He has organized choral groups in his own community and gladly shares his knowledge with others wishing to do the same. A superb storyteller, he often introduces songs in concert with a bit of their origin and history.

GORDON BOK CARVING is wood carvings incorporate the same ethos as his music, deeply rooted and timeless and yet utterly original. From the instruments he plays to the myths he explores, the music is indelibly his own.  

This was an exciting evening of live performance by a folk master that we won't soon forget.

Praises for his performances:

  • "The music of Maine folk singer Bok is like a universe unto itself, a roughhewn land filled with hardscrabble people, rascals in high places, and a natural world that is both cruel and kind, deadly and nurturing."
      GORDON BOK Scott Alarik, The Boston Globe

  • "... a national treasure ... Throughout the evening, Mr. Bok switched between 12-string and 6-string acoustic guitars, both Maine-made instruments and bearing a rich, open sound that complimented his deep, heartfelt vocals and gave him the opportunity to demonstrate his masterful guitar technique."
      Mark Good, Mount Desert Islander

  • "No one can match Gordon's sonorous voice and masterfully understated instrumentation. His music includes old, borrowed, and new, all steeped in and attuned to deep-rooted folk music."
      Cornell Folk Song Club

  • "Gordon Bok is timeless. Seafarer, songwriter extraordinaire, excellent instrumentalist, and "painter" of moods, he takes his audiences over the bay and out to sea, through a labyrinth of emotions from joy to fear, and awe at the immense wonderment of the world we live in."
      Plowshares (San Francisco Folk Music Center)

Link to his web site:  

    Listen to music clips &/or download The Angelus:  

Opening for Gordon Bok tonight were our featured open mike performers:

click on pix to download full size high-res versions

  • Ira Perlman IRA PERLMAN

  • Steve Henry STEVE HENRY

  • Cindy Butler CINDY BUTLER

  • Alan Short ALAN SHORT

  • Barry Be BARRY BE

  • Hank Stone HANK STONE

  • Ed Mocko ED MOCKO

    Our host this evening was Ira Perlman. IRA PERLMAN

    If you weren't here tonight, you missed yet another of the very best programs of the year ...