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Pierce Turner

The Penguin Book Rough Guide to Irish Music says about Pierce Turner There is no one in the whole wide world of music quite like Pierce Turner; a unique visionary, the owner of a voice that drips emotion, a consummate lyricist and the creator of tunes which are both complex and accessible. Born and raised in Wexford town, Pierce’s musical journey began as a boy soprano in his school choir and regularly sang in the local festival, an experience he describes as “Like living in a Catholic version of Pet Sounds” (The Beach Boys classic album). Plainsong was a formative influence, but the young Turner was developing his love of song through Emmetspiceland and Tir Na Nog, while never losing his affection for the tunes of Carolan and the work of Sean O’Riada. He was also learning the clarinet and piano and listening to The Beatles, Dylan and Pink Floyd. Spells in various beat groups, and folk rock groups ensued before he and long time friend, (and future Black 47 singer/guitarist) Larry Kirwan set off for New York “Just to escape the restrictions of Ireland and my own self-inflicted restrictions.” They had a minor radio hit as a duo before forming a new wave band, The Major Thinkers and nearly made it with a song called “Avenue B is the place to be”. Tiring of the scene, Pierce began composing instrumentals for modern dance and became friends with avant-garde composer Philip Glass. They headed for London and secured a record deal resulting in the album “It’s Only a long way across” (1986), co-produced by Philip Glass, which included the classic “Wicklow Hills” (covered by Christy Moore) and Turner’s droll account of Wexford gossip, “Musha God help her”. Pierce next began collaborating with trombonist, Fred Parcells (later to join Black 47), resulting in a new depth to his sound, some astonishing live performances and 1989’s stunning The Sky and the Ground. Even this, however, was surpassed by Now is Heaven, an album ridiculously overlooked by both critics and punters, and containing Turner’s best-ever song, “All Messed Up”, an exploration of personal confusion which draws on the flute of Seamus Egan to enhance the melody’s traditional roots. Since then Pierce has released four further albums, 1996’s live Manana in Manhattan the following year’s superb Angelic Language, 2001’s Three Minute World which was voted “One of the hundred greatest Irish albums of all time “ and 2004’s The Boy to be with” to great critical acclaim in the Irish Times. Record companies and record stores have problems categorizing Pierce (one Irish shop currently stocks his releases in the Sean-Nos section!), but the man’s talent is unstoppable and deserves a far wider audience. Fortunately, he continues to write and play (the EP Action appeared in 1999), and the high points of his career have been collected on the comprehensive The Compilation (1998 Beggars Banquet). Just buy, listen and marvel. Geoff Wallis For more information check out Pierce Turner’s website www.pierceturner.com

My Artists Sessions

Thursday, March 17

11:00pm CDT