John Guliak – ‘The Fisherman’

Since the advent of our new reality, and this new normal we’re all trying to convince ourselves of in a post COVID-19 world, there are a few pleasures we’re able to afford ourselves that allow us to take our minds off of the state of the world outside our homes.

One of these pleasures, for me, has been talking with the traveler and the literary, John Guliak. There’s a calming demeanor John Guliak is surrounded with in stark contrast to the chaos and mayhem of everyday life that draws me in, he’s a respectful listener and thoughtful contributor to any conversation he’s privy to, which in interesting in itself, as even as we spoke I found myself bringing myself into the conversation more that I normally would. John Guliak is just that engaging.

We discussed ‘The Fisherman’ which is a 3 song EP that’s recently found its way to John Guliak’s bandcamp site. A very thoughtful compilation of songs, starting with ‘SOS (Sum Of Survival)’ which in and of itself tells several tales of wrecked sailing vessels with no survivors. Though the metaphor of the sinking ship in relation to any adverse condition is certainly not lost on John Guliak, the fact is that he actually set out to write a song about wrecked ships without any implied political or societal implications.

But then, isn’t that the way poetry is?

The way we interpret poetry is no unlike the way someone would interpret a parable, or spiritual teaching. We apply the principles to our own lives as they pertain to our own lives. So I must then also be thankful for the introspective instrumental song that follows (Private Melville’s Vast Retreat) so that I can chew on that thought before ‘The Ballad of Roger Casement’ grabs my focus.

John Guliak’s approach to recording Private Melville’s Vast Retreat is essentially a collaborative effort. What started from a simple instrumental guitar piece grew & grew with the addition of selected respected musicians from John Guliak’s rolodex. I always know something special is coming when I learn of an instrumental song that comes from a source so well known for his lyrical contribution. It’s rare, but never disappointing.

The Ballad of Roger Casement reads like the kind of literature than my father, a literary, would have been very excited to share with 12-year-old me only to have 12-year-old me stare back blankly in confusion. I was determined not to have this happen to me again, so I admitted to John Guliak when we spoke that I spent a fair bit of time researching Roger Casement before our conversation. The many tales of one of the Ireland’s bravest heroes and civil rights advocates being praised, and eventually cast
aside for treason and targeted for his private life.

And there I go, drawing historic and poetic parallels to modern life again.

Stylistically, John Guliak brings a lot with him wherever he goes, and has been given many flattering comparisons to icon writers of several genres over the years. To demonstrate that, he’s applied his writing style to 3 different genres, for 3 different EPs to be released gradually throughout 2020. This collection of songs is called ‘The Fisherman’ and we can anticipate ‘The Farmer’ later this summer, and ‘The Fool’ to follow. This falls somewhere between releasing a full album and releasing a series of singles. Three parts. 3 movements. But with enough support, we can anticipate a formal release of all three on vinyl in the future as well.

We’re fortunate to have challenging and thoughtful songwriters in this community. This is an ideal time to dig into the catalogues of the musicians we have here, and perhaps become inspired.

‘The Fisherman’ is an excellent place to start.

FatDave Johnston