Venture Out: Matt Turk Tunes into Paris
By: Ilana Donna Arazie, Downtown Dharma -- Find Zen in the City
On August 26th 2010, Matt Turk took the stage underground in the cavernous La Pomme d'Eve in Paris' University of Sorbonne district. With his 1920s parlor-style guitar, Turk performed two well-crafted sets of his originals; classic American tunes including several from his new release American Preservation. What a treat, as the album is currently No. 20 on the Folk/DJ chart garnering mad spins in 25 states in the US, Germany, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
Tucked into this cozy subterranean venue, Turk picked in a country blues style a la Mississippi John Hurt as he interpreted Jim Croce's classic "You Don't Mess Around with Jim." The song is about the mystique of New York's Times Square, perfectly illustrating how adept Matt Turk is with storytelling as he captivated the French audience with his All-American charm.
Turk sang the Steve Goodman classic, "City of New Orleans," one of the greatest American songs ever written about trains, as well as Elizabeth Cotton's "Freight Train." Following these traditional tunes, Matt performed his composition "Hobo Boy" off his 2002 release What Gives. Well-connected to American musical troubadour mythology in his original music, his nature and the covers he chooses to sing, Turk naturally brings a timeless quality to his work.
"Broadway," also off What Gives, is a tale of New York City during the inception of the AIDS crisis and the street reality surrounding it. Turk paints a stunning picture without even mentioning AIDS. His introduction honored the memory of his friend Andy Kessler, who was responsible for building all the skate parks on the east coast of the United States, and also a fellow worker during the mid-90s at God's Love We Deliver. On the song, Turk's funky guitar playing evoked, at times, James Brown and Flea. A consummate musician and guitarist, Turk makes it look easy. His solo received great applause and rapt audience attention.
Later, he performed "Silver Ring" off his 2006 release Washington Arms, which tells the story of where he's from. Audience members soaked in the dulcimer tones of his voice and melodious guitar arrangement while Turk created a vision of New York's Hudson riverside, green with nature and filled with friends, family, renewal and joy. "Silver Ring" is a grand slam song.
Closing his performance was his interpretation of Pink Floyd's "On the Turning Away," a ballad sung acapella and clearly an audience favorite. Evoking age-old Irish ballad-singing found in the pubs of Galway, Ennis and Dublin, this song showcases his genuine compassion as he closes his performance with the message, "Will there be no more turning away?" Exactly. Count me among the many that won't be turning away from another Matt Turk performance.
- Ilana Donna Arazie
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