Maine has quite a few singer-songwriters of note, David Mallett and Don Campbell, just to name a couple, but there’s one that has stretched the genre to places it’s never been before: Gordon Bok. This talented guitarist/singer-songwriter, who has 34 recordings under his belt, is also a musical historian, collector, interpreter and is even known for his skills as a woodworker/woodcarver, and has been one for more than 30 years. He will come back to Waterville for a special show at the U.U. Coffeehouse on Saturday, April 25. For more information, call 248-6753. To that end, I recently got a call from Bok at his Camden home and was able to find out a little more about the soft-spoken, gentle man.

Q: So you’re coming into the U.U. Coffeehouse in Waterville for a show. Have you ever performed at that venue before?

Bok: You know, I can’t remember.

Q: Well, it’s not like you’ve just started doing this.

Bok: No, that’s true — I have played in Waterville, but I just can’t remember where.

Q: It’s a very intimate venue where folks can see and hear you perfectly which really lends itself to your particular kind of performance.

Bok: That’s great. I’ve been enjoying house concerts in the last few years. They’re just so simple and straightforward, they’re wonderful.

Q: What do you see as your role as a singer-songwriter?

BOK: My role, wow! Well, I’m truly in this for my own salvation.

Q: How so?

Bok: I explore what I need to explore. What I can’t find in traditional music or in other people’s music then I’ll write something, but I’ve been able to find an awful lot. I’m very fortunate to have had amassed the repertoire I have.

Q: What do you look for in a song?

Bok: Oh, people. People and how they deal with the world. Of course, I like a good story as anyone does, so I love the old ballads and the new ballads, too. And it’s very cheap travel, for one thing, because you get to see how people deal with the world around them from all over the place. You are not paying any maintenance on it and you’re not paying any airfare to get there.

Q: Good point, but with the frigid winter that we’ve been having, getting away to a warmer clime is awfully tempting right about now.

Bok: Yeah, well, we did a three-week tour in Oregon which was very comfortable and relaxed. It was nice to get away. It was a grand time of meeting people, especially at the Fisherpoet Gathering in Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River. It’s just fishermen from all over the North American continent who get together and tell their stories, sing their songs and read their poetry. It’s just a long weekend that really presents wonderful people and perspectives.

Q: Did you get more stories for your repertoire while you were there?

Bok: Well, there are a couple that are still haunting me, I will say, yeah. But I don’t know if I would retell them except to another fisherman.

Q: I guess you’ve got to know your audience. Oh, and speaking of audiences, what can folks at the U.U. Coffeehouse expect from your show?

Bok: Well, whatever I’m into at the moment, really. Every concert is different, but there are some things I’m working on that are combinations of story and music, and poems and music, too, that I’ll probably do. And, I always do ballads, some traditional songs and I’ve actually just finished learning a couple of really good songs that I got from the Fisherpoet Gathering recordings that some of them had made, so I’ll probably do one of those, anyway. You know, there is something very satisfying in writing local history. Stuff you really know about, but the rest of the world doesn’t, and sharing that. It’s very nice. I’ve been doing that both in my sculpture and in my music. I’m trying to give a good picture of the whole fishery that existed around here that is going and probably gone from the world, and with it a whole way of life and a whole way of thinking. I enjoy talking about that in an artistic way. It’s very satisfying.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pas on to the readers of this article?

Bok: No, just that I’m looking forward to it.

Lucky Clark has spent more than 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.


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