Introduction: A talented singer and banjo player who also did fine work on pennywhistle, recorder and dumbek, John Gorozdos was a busy musician during the last years of his life. He performed with Jericho Bridge, The BlueLine Bluegrass Band and Ship's Company Chanteymen. He was also a founding member of the Newcastle Players. Formerly with the now defunct English folk group Cornucopia, John was a frequent guest with the Peabody Renaissance Ensemble and performed and recorded with the Baltimore Composers Forum, the Shakespeare Theatre of Washington, and Sylvan Ayers.
The year that John died, he was working with me on my second solo recording, HighStrung, which I completed and released in 2006.
I'm like many people who knew John; music was the thing that brought him into my life. I first met him about 15 years ago when we both performed at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, but I didn't really get to know him until a few years ago when I joined Ship's Company.
John was the quiet one, the one who didn't demand attention or try to dominate the room. He was one of those people I fondly call "low maintenance."¬î But he was so good at what he did. I noticed, and I asked him to work with me on my solo recording project. Looking back now, I'm so glad that I did that, not just because of the fine work we did together but also because it gave me the chance to get to know him a little better.
Working with John was a real pleasure: whether we were in the studio or onstage, I found the music that we made together energizing and uplifting. More than that, though, I found John himself to be smart, funny, creative, and generous in spirit. He was all that and a genuinely nice person. Even with his impressive talent and abilities, John was modest to the point of nearly eclipsing himself. His focus was on music, not fanfare or money. He told me that he just cared about "making good music."
The last time that I saw John, we spent a lovely afternoon singing and playing aboard the Woodwind, a schooner that sails out of Annapolis. After we docked, we walked downtown to the Drummer's Lot to sing along with the folks at the monthly Ship's Company Shanty Sing. I still remember how much fun it was to harmonize with him on the choruses. While we were saying our goodbyes, I said, "That was really fun." He quipped, "Yeah, we should do that again sometime." Less than a month later, he was gone.
I feel a terrible loss, but I only scratched the surface in getting to know John during this too-brief period of time. I know that the grief of his family and longtime friends is so much greater than my own. But I'm grateful for the time that I had with John, for the chance to make good music with him, and for the inspiration that he brought into my life in his quiet way.
-- Darcy Nair, September 11, 2004
The Pyrates Royale