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Friday, January 1, 2016


Gerard Burke
WELLSBORO—To listen to Gerard Burke is to hear the blues played as it was in the rural South before the electric guitar. Using resonator and standard acoustic guitars, finger picks and a brass slide, Burke transports his audiences back to the early 1900s, when the blues was a way of life, a form of expression for solo bluesmen traveling across the Mississippi Delta region and a source of entertainment for listeners.
On Friday, Jan. 8 at 7:30 p.m., Burke will perform Delta blues in the Gallery at the Warehouse Theatre at 3 Central Avenue in Wellsboro. The atmosphere will be relaxed with seating at tables. Audience members are invited to bring their favorite beverages and snacks and enjoy the music. Popcorn and bottled water will be available.

Burke lives in Elmira, N.Y. where he was born and raised. After taking clarinet and saxophone lessons in elementary and junior high school, he taught himself how to play guitar and performed through high school and college. "My guitars had all been electric until 15 years ago when I received an acoustic guitar as a gift," he said. "That’s when I focused on Delta blues because it is a style that can be played by a solo artist using an acoustic guitar, is a reflection of African-American history and is not commonly performed in this area.”

He learned to play the blues by listening to records from the 1920s and 30s and from instructional videos on the Internet. “I like the blues because of its simple chord progressions that leave ample room for improvising. My repertoire includes my version of tunes by Son House, Charlie Patton, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and a host of others. I also throw in a few originals.” At the Warehouse, he will take requests. “If I know the song, I will play it,” he said.

Burke has performed the blues across New York’s Southern Tier and Central regions.

His professional motto, ‘One man, one guitar’ is a description of his performance. When people hear blues, they usually think of a group of like-minded performers who share a love for the genre and love playing it even more. He gives listeners a glimpse into history through his unique brand of finger blues, played in the style of the old masters.

Since retiring from his “day job” at the end of January this year (2015), he likes to tell people he plays to supplement his retirement income. “Prior to that, playing music was a side job; I’m a former journalist.”

Admission is $10. For reservations or more information, call the Deane Center at 570-724-6220.

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