Singer/songwriter John Gorka delivered two highly spirited sets at the Summer Nights series at the BioPark (903 10th Street SW) on Thursday, June 19. The Minnesota-based veteran touring artist wowed longtime fans and won over countless Albuquerque music lovers who were new to his signature mix of deep and clever vocals, guitar and comedic storytelling.
Gorka opened with originals from his latest release, The Bright Side of Down, and continued to sample the collection to great effect throughout the evening. Gorka is nothing if not precise, personal and universal, sometimes all in the same lyric. This ability combined with masterful musicianship across genres including folk, blues, pop, rock, bluegrass and rockabilly makes him a worthy companion for an evening ... or a lifetime. This reviewer has seen him in concert over 20 times. Many of those performances have been in festival settings, as Gorka is a highly sought-after act on the vital, enduring national folk fest circuit. At the BioPark concert, he joked about visiting Scandinavia, a hotbed of singer/songwriter and folk fandom.
Gorka's catalog is extensive, and he plumbed its depths in concert. Selections included chestnuts like “I Saw a Stranger with Your Hair,” “I’m From New Jersey,” “Branching Out” and “Love is Our Cross to Bear.” The modern-day Renaissance man wove requests and selective orchestrated sing-alongs to engage the receptive crowd on the lawn that beautiful night. Many in the audience were obviously longtime followers. And they, along with the newcomers, were rewarded with a varied and holistic representation of the showman’s talent.
In stark contrast to the awkward egotism displayed by Marc Cohn the week prior at Zoo Music, Gorka paid our fair city a compliment during the second set. He praised the enthusiastic audience, noting that he wished all his shows could be like this, in “this corner of paradise.” The key to delivering such a line lies in simplicity and sincerity, and Gorka radiated both.
John Gorka is a deft master of the folk trifecta: penetrating lyrics, unparalleled musicianship and compelling storytelling. When he opened and finished his tunes at the BioPark, he wasn't greeted with mere applause: We’re talking yelps, yoo-hoo's, squeals of joy and all-around exuberant acknowledgment of this well-traveled troubadour.
Dear John, please come back soon and stay longer.
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In April the BioPark acquired two deadly sea snakes. Now it has added another deadly herpetological specimen to the fold.
There is no venomous snake in the world that can reach the length of a fully grown king cobra (up to 18 feet). But the BioPark says not to worry about this slithery 12-foot addition, who hails from Iowa. "Although king cobras are normally aggressive and eat other snakes, this cobra is quite docile and eats mice," the park writes in a press release.
But not so fast. The press release also says that fully grown cobras are capable of killing adult elephants, and that they show "signs of advanced thinking such as problem solving."
If I were locked in a cage and were an advanced problem solver, I can think of about one problem I would try to solve first. After accomplishing such a task, I could then think of a few other problems to solve—namely with the use of my almighty venom.
Like many of you, I find snakes as fascinating and seductive as I do terrifying. They can be unpredictable and intimidating in their exotic, alluring beauty. Wait—are we still taking about snakes here? Anywho, it seems the BioPark decided it would be the ideal place to raise two venomous snakes rescued from an "accidental capture." Apparently, the snakes got tangled in with a fish shipment of some sort, and ended up in Cali. These snakes, dear cowboys and girls, are not your average rattlers. They are Hydrophis fasciatus, sea snakes from India considered to be among the deadliest species on planet Earth. I imagine I'm not the only citizen of the Duke City that considers this a bad idea. The irony here is that these snakes are also among the more fragile of reptiles and almost never survive in captivity. Experts are on the case and reptile enthusiasts are aroused by the prospect of these two slinky scoundrels making the BioPark their long-term crib. Will this be a break-through for zoo keepers and serpent-lovers alike, or a deadly tragedy for some unlucky zoo-goer that most obviously could have been avoided? To snake lovers partial to the two-eyed variety, I say visit the BioPark this summer if you must, but be sure to bring your anti-venom.
The whole gussied-up, dinner-and-a-movie Valentine's date is so passé. Why not skip the formalities, get right down to the nitty-gritty and embrace our animalistic instincts? Today starting at 2 p.m., head down to Birds and the Beasts at the Rio Grande Zoo (903 10th Street SW) or Love Bugs at the Rio Grande Botanic Garden (2601 Central NW). There, find out what really goes on between the animal kingdom's sheets and learn about the reproductive techniques and mating rituals of insects, arachnids and other wildlife. Both programs cost $10, and space must be reserved by calling the Zoo at 764-6214 or the Botanic Garden at 848-7180. Sorry, kids; this primal performance is for adults ages 18-and-up. For more, stop by cabq.gov/biopark
Now someone has to make a joke about their teeth being friendly to animals and then say “mmm, spotted owl.” I’ll wait ...
... but seriously folks, the BioPark is looking for adults to lead tours and talk about the creatures and greenery on exhibit. Volunteers can also travel to schools around the state. Everything you need to know will be discussed over 12 Saturdays, beginning on Saturday, Aug. 7, at 11 a.m.
If you do this, you could directly help save endangered species, says the news release. “Because people are more likely to help protect animals they understand and care about, volunteer teachers are vital to the protection of endangered species.” You would also get the inside info on the future Insectarium (words that end in “arium” are pleasant, no?) and free regular admission to the BioPark facilities. Lope over to cabq.gov/biopark or call (505) 764-6214.