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WINDHAM HILL ARTISTS SHIFTING FROM MELLOW TO FOLK, JAZZ

The Snowbird Summer Concert Series kicks off Saturday, June 22, at 8 p.m. under the pavilion with three Windham Hill artists - Singer songwriter John Gorka, guitarist William Ackerman and bassist Michael Manring.Warning: Concertgoers who expect to hear a predictable blend of soothing, mellow "New Age" tones Saturday night at the Windham Hill concert will be disappointed.

A lively diversity of folk and jazz is the promised agenda.The performances of John Gorka, one of the best songwriters on the folk scene today, with William Ackerman's acoustic instruments and Michael Manring's electric, fretless bass hope to dispel the sleepy "New Age" image sometimes associated with the Windham Hill label.

The three will perform individually, in duos and as a trio.

"Acoustic folk" is how Gorka described his unique songwriting style during an interview with the Deseret News. Critics have praised Gorka as a gifted songwriter leading the "New Folk Movement."

"There's a lot of good music out there that is just starting to get a chance to be heard. There's a lot more variety. The momentum is building," said Gorka.

Words. That's a major change in Saturday's program than is characteristic of most Windham Hill productions, said Gorka.

And words are what distinguish Gorka from other composers. Critics like his knack for capturing the deepest and most commonplace emotions into clever vignettes and phrases, such as:

"Life is full of disappointments

Yes, I am full of life."

Saturday, Gorka will be singing from his new album, "Jack's Crows."

"The album is about the people and places important to me. I particularly write about the neighborhood I grew up in - Bethlehem, Pa. It's sad for me to see the place change from beautiful farm fields to ugly houses.

"If development goes unchecked, there won't be any wild places left at all," he said.

When Gorka first wrote the words to Jack's Crows, he said he wasn't sure what they meant:

"Where everybody's from and nobody goes

That's where you're gonna find Jack's Crows."

Then he realized that one meaning is that everybody has his or her own particular history, but they can't go home again.

His career began in 1976 when he played at a coffeehouse while attending college in Pennsylvania.

Gorka sets deadlines for himself to compose two songs per month."I try to put my best thoughts and strongest feelings into a song," he said. "I try to write songs that make people feel that life is worth doing well. Life's not always what we expect, but it beats the alternative."

Tickets are $18 and $16 at Snowbird and usual ticket outlets. Call 467-5996.