“Songs of the Sea”

A Benefit Concert with Folk Legend Gordon Bok

Gordon Bok is a songwriter, a singer and guitarist, a visual artist and a collector of folk music from around the world. As a songwriter, Bok has been capturing the folk myths, sounds, and feel of the Maine waterfront for more than 40 years. Born and raised in Camden, Maine, he draws on his experience in and around the waterfront of mid-coast and Downeast Maine, and his name has become synonymous with the working boat culture of the region.BokwithguitarHe spins into song the diverse voices of fishermen and other sea-folk, crafting penetrating vignettes and full-fledged ballads. At times he reaches deep into the wealth of sea myths that haunt the North Atlantic, animating the legends of Selkies, sea fairies and boat spirits, producing recordings like Seal Djiril’s Hymn where song and spoken verse are interspersed.Bok received an Honorary Doctorate from the Maine Maritime Academy for his help in preserving the lore of the Northeast’s working waterfront.

Bok’s mastery of folk music goes beyond Maine subjects and includes the folk music of Latin America, Europe, Mongolia, and especially the Gaelic-speaking areas of the British Isles. His music speaks clearly to the spirit of listeners and his sound resonates with the deepest longings of human beings everywhere to belong, to be creative and to build community.

Bok first recorded in the 1960s and some of his early songs, such as Turning toward the Morning, The Isle au Haut Lullaby and The Hills of Isle au Haut, have become legend in Downeast Maine and beyond. He sings in a rich baritone and plays six-string guitar (both the steel-string acoustic guitar and the nylon-string classical guitar) as well as a 12-string guitar. He has recorded 24 albums alone, 10 albums with Ed Trickett and Ann Mayo Muir, and his voice has been included in seven additional albums. His latest recording, Song of the Lady Odivere (2013), is a folk opera and timeless tale of love, conflict and betrayal. It features Bok, Ann Mayo Muir and Euclid Hanbury. The album is available on Timberhead Music.

The concert is open to the public without conference registration.

  • LISTEN to a music clip from Jenny, one of Bok’s latest compositions (MP3)
  • HEAR a Bok classic, Turning Toward the Morning (1975)

Gordon Bok’s Visual Art

Bok_carving-smWhen he isn’t writing music, collecting folk songs or performing, Gordon Bok carves bas relief figures in mahogany, butternut and native pine that reflect his interest in the folklore of the sea.

fishing boat

For most of his life he has been a woodworker having grown up with the local shipyard as his playground. He has built a few small boats and repaired and maintained larger ones. He has designed and built tools and furniture, houses and barns. His woodcarving was a natural extension of that woodworking.


Several of Bok’s carvings are on loan to the Maine Maritime Academy for 2014 and can be viewed in the Alfond Student Center.