• Catherine White

Southern Tier Music Life

Updated: May 6

Southern Tier’s Delta bluesman Gerard Burke Tours the Region with a New CD


When you hear the rhythmic, toe-tapping groove of Delta bluesman Gerard Burke, you’re getting a whole vibe. Despite being born and, mostly, raised in Elmira, N.Y. he’s got deep southern roots that you can feel when he plays his guitar.


Now that the weather is improving and Covid is becoming more manageable, the solo bluesman is touring the Twin Tiers with a new CD of music that will transport you to the banks of the river on a warm day, where the mournful sounds of an acoustic slide guitar and a lone voice release the troubles of the day into the air in a melodic meditation for the soul.

Gerard grew up surrounded by music, learning to play several instruments, encouraged by his parents. He played in a few bands throughout his youth, playing rhythm and blues, soul and funk. He continued to play music on and off with brief breaks when life got in the way, like when he attended college at Boston University.


One day while visiting family down south with his wife, they were in a pawn shop and

Gerard picked up an acoustic guitar and started playing again. He says he chose the blues because he wanted to play solo and he thought it fit his persona and style best.


“I just thought it seemed a better fit … for an African-American solo guitar player, than playing folk or some other genre,” Gerard explained.


His story is featured on Southern Finger Lakes Traditions, a cultural mapping project website sponsored by The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes and created to acknowledge and celebrate the culture and history of the region.


Delta Blues by Gerard Burke is Gerard’s second CD. His first, On the Radio, was produced after a Binghamton University student heard him performing at a coffeehouse in Waverly and was compelled to record him. The limited edition sold out so quickly that Gerard didn’t even have a copy until years later when a friend found a copy and bought it for him.

He started recording his latest CD in 2019, just before the pandemic shut everything down.


“I used the money I made performing at gigs to pay for recording time at this abandoned, renovated church in Newfield that was converted into a recording studio with real good acoustics,” Gerard said. “It’s called Electric Wilburland.”


Electric Wilburland, a premiere regional recording studio, works with an impressive array of musicians, including local legends like The Horse Flies, Sim Redmond, and now, Gerard Burke.


In addition to his gig money, Gerard was fortunate enough to receive a grant for musicians who needed funding to finish a project, which helped pay for his recording sessions and production of the CD.


Delta Blues by Gerard Burke, features six blues song adaptations, giving the songs new life with his own raw, stripped down sound. Without fancy accoutrements, those true blues emotions reverberate from Gerard’s percussive guitar-picking and soulful voice.


You can check out the fine sounds of Gerard Burke live and pick up his CD, so that you’ll be able to play those bare-boned blues wherever you go.


Delta Blues by Gerard Burke is $20, and is available wherever the musician is playing, as well as by emailing burkesblues@gmail.com.

Gerard Burke - Upcoming Shows

Gerard Burke live at Patrick's, Saturday, May 7

6-9 p.m. Saturday, May 7 at Patrick's, 300 College Ave. in Elmira, NY.

Gerard Burke live at Jake's Saloon, May 12

Gerard Burke live at Chapel Park, May 14.


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