Port Chester's Turk, a songwriting 'balladeer,' Plays the Bayou
by James O'Rourke | The Journel News | Friday, April 6, 2007
Outside of the Turning Point on a lazy Saturday afternoon, Matt Turk is looking out over the streets of Piermont trying to put into words the reasons he's spent 20 years of his life on music.
"I could do everything I wanted to," he says of his songwriting. "I could write lyrics that would tell a story. ... I could also create music that would be visceral and grab us in our heart and in our gut."
Born in Port Chester, Turk grew up around rock 'n' roll and was raised by parents who allowed him the freedom to experience a multitude of artistic forms. It was clear from an early age that music was his love.
"When I was seven or eight years old, my folks took me and my brother to see Jethro Tull at the Garden," he says. "Ian Anderson leapt out on the stage and he hoisted the mast, and the band kicked in, and it really blew my mind."
Shortly after, he began taking guitar lessons, beginning his life long love affair with the craft of songwriting.
To say that Turk's music has one distinctive feel would be impossible. At times his music is highly introspective and folksy, yet for the most part, his tunes are well-crafted rock songs that are impossible not to relate to on some level.
Turk joined his first band in junior high school and continued to play in a variety of bands throughout his high school years. He constantly found new friends with which he could write and jam, playing from where he believes good music should come from: the heart.
"We just got together, played what we loved and spent summers in garages. I just loved it," he says. "We weren't very good, I don't think, but our hearts were in the right place and that's what we did pretty much all the time."
After graduation, Turk attended New York University, where he spent three years earning his bachelor's degree in history and religious studies.
In 1989, Turk began his recording career, releasing his first album, "Hold Back The Reins," with his band, The Hour.
He spent the next decade releasing several other recordings with The Hour and playing all over the globe.
In 2000, Turk released his first solo recording, "Turktunes."
"When you listen to the early stuff there's a rawness to it that's exciting," Turk says of his recordings. "You're like, 'wow, 85% of that was right on because it came from one's heart. But then you say, 'if I knew then what I knew now' "
To him, the difference between playing in the studio and playing live is easily discernable.
"Putting a photograph on the wall or a painting on the wall, you're not necessarily there to experience what somebody else is confronted with," he says. "But when you sing a song for someone, you immediately get that exchange so there's a lot of reward there."
Comparing his performances to "home games" and "away games," Turk has been able to impress home audiences in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago as well as away audiences in Israel, Sweden and Cuba.
Turk plans to continue his quality performances tomorrow night at The Bayou, where he is scheduled to play tunes from his new album, "Washington Arms."
"It's about really playing to the room and playing to the audience and playing to the venue," he says. "It really comes with experience and intuition."
At 37, Turk understands the tradition of which he has become a part. He's knowledgeable about music and its evolution throughout different world cultures and has attempted to further this genre of music, acting as what he calls, "a balladeer."
He is, however, more than merely a knowledgeable source on music, rather he has become an experienced guide for future performers and songwriters.
"One needs to just live. You can't write about something you don't know," he says. "There's a big difference between somebody who has a beautiful voice and somebody who has depth of character and experience."