Playfully serious, heartfelt and slightly bent middle-class pop/rock
Somewhere in suburbia...
New Middle Class is Barbara Borok (lead vocal) and Mike Borok (guitar/vocal). Their award-winning original songs walk a thin line between the funny and the serious, with distinctive vocals, harmonies and delightfully unexpected lyrical twists and turns. The songs span an eclectic range of styles, often speaking with the voices of different characters.
They have two cars and a one-car garage.
In the late ‘70’s, Mike led a Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks influenced band called Light Horse Harry. Barbara happened to be in the room at an audition to replace the band’s departing bassist and, upon discovering that this hot chick was neither the wife nor the girlfriend of the new bassist, Mike asked her out. Before long, Barbara’s love of singing inspired her to join the band and she went from girlfriend to backing singer to featured vocalist. Mike’s songwriting became more prolific – it must have been love. Light Horse Harry played the NYC college scene; their shows were loose, lots of fun, and hot swing/bluegrass fiddler Marty Laster would always bring the house down.
These were the new wave days of Talking Heads, Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson, and after their wedding in 1981 Barbara and Mike decided to go for the big time with a new band, a rock band, with Barbara fulfilling her destiny as lead singer. The band was called Tour de Force and, clad in her Betsy Johnson splendor, Barbara fronted the guitar/bass/drums (and sometimes keyboards) combo at downtown venues like SNAFU and C.B.G.B.
A highly anticipated international stadium tour fell through with the collapse of the Venezuelan economy; after the drummer left, the remaining members continued to write and record. Then life intervened, Barbara and Mike moved out of the city and started a family, and for a while much of the music in the house was tinkling from wind-up toys.
Once their older daughter was no longer an infant, they felt the gravitational pull of singer-songwriter stardom and started networking with local musicians. This sparked an ongoing flurry of songwriting as Dan Pelletier, Joe Giacoio and Mike would sit at their day job computer terminals and write songs, critique each other’s work and occasionally collaborate. Sometimes singer-songwriter Carla Ulbrich would chime in on these songwriting sessions. This evolved into an ongoing songwriting and performing collaboration called SongLand, playing round-robin can-you-top-this shows, reviewed as "Edge of your seat performances and skillful songwriting so rife with nip-and-tuck and derring-do, it makes all others seem namby pamby by comparison."
Meanwhile, Mike and Barbara were performing at coffeehouses and festivals in the tri-state area, and recorded their self-titled album at PM Productions. The engineer at this recording studio also wrote equipment reviews for Mix magazine, so they got to play with lots of high-end and vintage equipment, and ended up with a beautiful-sounding album.
Their songs won awards in major songwriting contests, were played on over 50 radio stations worldwide, and they performed in events nationwide, including the Northeastern and Southwestern Folk Alliance conferences, Chicago and Florida festivals, and won Grand Prize at the Music To Life song contest at the prestigious Kerrville (TX) Folk Festival. Their songs also appear on The Folk Next Door IV Local Color, Fast Folk Undercurrents, and on three compilation albums by the Funny Music Project (The FuMP).
Their second album, What’s That Thing?, was recorded at their home studio. One of the songs, Loch Ness Café, was played on BBC radio, and it turned out that a Loch Ness Café actually existed in Inverness, Scotland – they contacted the band for permission to frame the lyrics of the song on their wall. (The song went on to be a finalist in the U.K. Songwriting Contest and the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest.)
Their new album, House of Love, was also recorded at home, as well as two live-action music videos. For one of them, “Quark”, their fans contributed short video clips of this imaginary dance, which were incorporated into the video. And the video for “It Ain’t What It Ain’t” was featured by the national grassroots political organization Braver Angels.
As of this writing COVID-19 has put a bit of a damper on their live in-person performances, but they’re working on new songs and videos, and there will be lots more music in the future.