Jook Bourke Music Bio

Jook grew up in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area listening to R&B DJ, Porky Chedwick, on WAMO radio. Porky played a lot of blues and it didn't have to be a big hit to get on the air. Elmore James, John Lee Hooker, Big Bill Broonzy and Muddy Waters were staples on Porky's show. The first band Jook played in featured tunes like Rooster Blues and Baby What You Want Me To Do, and other songs from Porky Chedwick's playlist.
 Jook's father, Patty Bourke (aka Paddy Bourke), was a clarinetist/saxophonist, bandleader, writer and arranger during the Big Band Era. Some of Patty Bourke's favorite tunes were also classic blue tunes, like St. James Infirmary. When Jook was at the age of 12, his dad began teaching him to play saxophone. He joined his first band at the age of 16.
He was the lead singer and saxophonist in that band. Finding it difficult to sing and play saxophone at the same time, he invited his brother Stoney to join the band as a singer. Stoney was a natural born showman and quickly showed his talent for belting out blues, R&B and rock vocals. This started a musical relationship that lasted for 18 years. Jook started learning how to play guitar and harmonica at the age of 20. He and Stoney formed the Bourke Brothers Band a few years later. He was now playing guitar, harmonica, saxophone and sharing vocal responsibilities with Stoney. The band broke up when Jook moved to Florida. Stoney kept playing another 20 years in the DC area.
It was difficult for Jook to become interested in joining another band after working for so many years with his brother. He turned more to songwriting and began performing as a solo artist. He released his first solo acoustic blues CD in 2001. It was a switch from the electric blues and rock he had been writing and performing in the Bourke Brother's Band. His approach to acoustic blues deviated from the traditional form of roots blues music in a few ways. Many of Jook's arrangements include drum or percussion tracks, while traditional acoustic blues does not. His lyrics don't follow the 12 bar typical blues form with the first and second lines being repeated as the third and fourth lines of the verse. He stuffs a lot of lyrical content into most of his songs. Some of his lyrics include storytelling, like that which is common in folk music. Jook's arrangements often include harmonies in the refrains incorporating vocal elements of rock, country and gospel.
In 2012, Jook hooked up with lifelong musician friend from Pennsylvania, Mike Wilps. Mike and Jook’s family ties go way back. Jook’s Dad and Mike’s Dad played together in bands during the Big Band era. Mike’s Dad was the drummer with my Dad’s Band. My Dad played saxophone and clarinet.
Mike and Jook then hooked up with lifelong musician friend Donn Overly and longtime friend of Mike, bass player Ronnie Grkman. Jook said, “Mike is the best drummer I have ever played with” and Donn is one of Jook’s favorite guitar players of all time. Mike and bass player, Ronnie, were joined at the hip and worked together as a unit. Together they released the album “Up All Night” in 2013.

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