Matt Turk:  Biography

Matt Turk - Photo by John F. Kramer
Photo: John F. Kramer

Web music authority All Music Guide calls him " artist to be reckoned with." A seasoned recording artist, multi-instrumentalist, eternal idealist and peace loving realist, Matt Turk is a veteran performer who has engaged audiences around the world, both as a rocking bandleader and an acoustic folk troubadour. He has shared the stage with Pete Seeger, opened for Judy Collins, The Doobie Brothers, Fiona Apple, The Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart, Dr. Ralph Stanley, John Entwistle, Keller Williams, David Bromberg, Ellis Marsalis, Del McCoury, Colonel Bruce Hampton and more. He has performed throughout the USA, Europe, Israel and the Caribbean, appearing at festivals and venues including Clearwater's Great Hudson River Revival, Caramoor's American Roots Festival, the Gathering of the Vibes, Atlanta's Music Midtown, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Beacon Theatre and Brooklyn Bowl.

In 2019, Matt co-produced Pete Seeger, Think Globally Sing Locally, with award winning sound engineer Doug Epstein. The live recording, featuring activist and musician Pete Seeger in concert at South Presbyterian Church in Dobbs Ferry took place on December 10, 2009. Matt performs throughout the entire concert along with Jenny Murphy, and the Take Me to the River Children's Community Chorus. 

In 2015, with Grammy award winner C Lanzbom, Matt co-founded Deadgrass, a string band adventure through Jerry Garcia's musical world. 

In 2014, Matt released Cold Revival, produced by David Dobkin, also a filmmaker, best known for directing "Wedding Crashers" and was recorded in Los Angeles at Matter Music. Rust Magazine named it 2014 Album of the Year. Guitar Player says, “On his latest release, Cold Revival, Matt Turk expertly weaves track after track of acoustic guitar and mandolin into a folk-rock fabric.” Relix says “appetizing and enjoyable.”  Magnet, No Depression, Guitar World’s Acoustic Nation also praised Cold Revival. Musicians on the album provide an impressive list of gentlemen including Russ Irwin (Sting, Aerosmith), Chris Joyner (Jason Mraz, Ray La Montagne, Sheryl Crow) and Dean Butterworth (Good Charlotte, Ben Harper). Matt composes, sings, plays acoustic guitar, mandolin and lap steel guitar.

In 2011, Matt scored the full-length documentary "The Lion of Judah," winner of several independent film festival awards. Matt's 2010 release American Preservation placed #20 on the folk charts and is a collection of well-loved classics, ranging from Taj Mahal to T. Rex. In February of 2008, Turk released the music video "The Fog of War" which featured special guest Pete Seeger. Acoustic Live's Richard Cuccaro called it "a remarkable video." Matt's cover of the Christmas classic "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" with Gaby Moreno and Matter Music appeared on the soundtrack to the 2007 Warner Bros. film "Fred Claus."

His version of "America the Beautiful," produced by Dobkin, with Matter Music and Gaby Moreno has been called "arguably the definitive acoustic version" by Music News Nashville. Turk's solo discography also includes Turktunes (2000), What Gives (2002) and Washington Arms (2006). Mandolin Caravan's Desert Soul (2003) was a collaboration with Kevin Hupp and Gillen & Turk Backs to the Wall (2008) was a collaboration with Fred Gillen Jr.

In 1987, while a student at New York University, Matt teamed up with Marshall Madow and co-founded The Hour, shared the stage with Blues Traveler, opened for Richie Havens, Hot Tuna, Dave Matthews Band and released three albums: Hold Back the Reins (1989), and with drummer Carey Harmon (now in Railroad Earth), Fricker-Nicker Sessions (1991) and Songs of Sweden (1992). Around this time Turk became acquainted with producer Phil Ramone, during studio work singing with Phoebe Snow on Russ Irwin's debut. "Phil took an interest in my music and gave me a great tutoring on the craft of songwriting," remembers Matt.

Matt is Musical Director at Congregation B'nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, NJ, a Faculty Member of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music of HUC-JIR in Guitar Performance, an Arts Westchester Roster Artist and Worship Leader at Tamid NYC. He served two terms (June 2010-June 2012) as President of the Board of Tribes Hill, the Hudson Valley kindred folk music organization.  He lives in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY with his wife Ilana Arazie and son Leo.

Selected Discography

Primary artist*, Band Member~, Side Musician^

Pete Seeger Think Globally Sing Locally 2019 * ^
Matt Turk Dog Story 2019 *
Deadgrass Live, 2017~

Matt Turk Cold Revival, 2014*
Pete Seeger The Storm King, 2013^
Pete Seeger Lorre Wyatt A More Perfect Union, 2012^
Backwoods Jupiter presents Bob Dylan's Desire, 2011~
Matt Turk American Preservation, 2010*
Hope Machine Big Green Hope Machine, 2009^
Gillen & Turk Back's to the Wall, 2008~ 
Fred Claus Soundtrack, Warner Brothers Records, 2007*  with Gaby Moreno & Matter
Matt Turk special guest Pete Seeger "The Fog of War", 2007*
Matt Turk Washington Arms, 2006*
Mandolin Caravan Desert Soul, 2003~
Matt Turk What Gives, 2002*
Matt Turk Turktunes, 1999*
The Hour Songs of Sweden, 1992~
The Hour Fricker-Nicker Sessions, 1991~