I’m gonna miss Bernard

Bernard possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of Opera

The first time I became aware of Bernard was at the Wexford Railway station one early January when I was seeing a New York friend off, heading to America via London.  It was a hectic scene, with lots of bags, heavy overcoats, babies crying and sad goodbye-ing. My head was spinning around trying to take it all in, when my attention got drawn towards Bernard. Throwing his case on the overhead while making jovial quips in the smoke filled nervous air, he was filled with so much life and enthusiasm I had to study him. He had a little goatee beard and James Joyce glasses; his head swiveled with enthusiasm towards the other brave faces that were trying to lighten the atmosphere. He had a loud voice, and a sort of ancient Wexford accent, mingled with English intonation. It was goodwill Bernard, charming charismatic Bernard, and I wanted to know who the hell he was right away, I was pleasantly surprised to find that he was my friend Jimmy’s older Brother, they didn’t look like brothers at all. Soon afterwards I went back to New York and didn’t see him again for a long time after that, but he had made an impression on me.

That all changed later when I got signed to an English label, and began spending a lot of time in the U.K. Bernard began appearing at my gigs, where once again he was buoyed by the surrounding atmosphere, particularly the attractive females. Even though he was almost exclusively an Opera fan, he was very capable of giving me a constructive revue of my music. Of course he never used contemporary music parallels, he would point out the Sibelius parts of my songs and the Puccini influences, stuff like that. He suggested that I read James Joyce’s The Dubliners; it was the first of many times that he would gently point me towards constructive influences. Of course, I was delighted with myself being taken so seriously, it didn’t matter that I thought he was being dramatic; I appreciated his effort to acclimate with alien music and a younger crowd. When Bernard wanted to give you a compliment it was a big one, he didn’t talk in small town terms, he talked in terms of history, it didn’t matter what your achievements were. You were as important as anyone; you didn’t have to be recognized by anyone else.

Bernard was opinionated, he had strong thoughts about almost everything, he hated boxing, said it was brutal and cannibalistic, the Williams Sisters ruined tennis, because they just hammered the ball. Forever against the grain, he preferred doubles! ……Pavarotti’s voice was too thin on the top, and he wanted to kill Andrea Bocelli. Bach was just a mathematician, and modern classical music was destroying Lyric FM and BBC 3. The weather was almost never suitable for him, and he hated green food, couldn’t eat dairy because it upset his sinuses and all healthy food upset his guts, even a slice of lemon in his Vodka was classified as fruit, and not admissible. He blew his nose regularly with a loud hoot. He called Verdi “Papa” because he loved him so much, and when the Swedish Tenor Jesse Bjorling sang he gave a running commentary about every minute nuance of his voice, his breathing technique, his fluency and effortless leg-Atttto, all musical terms were pronounced with a strong Italian accent of course. He was appalled when I told him that I preferred French to Italian, said he was very disappointed with me.

Unlike me, Bernard was very good at building and fixing things, Clare would always keep a snag list for his next visit. He always carried a plastic shopping bag folded into a small square, and a plaster, for emergencies, a habit he picked up from his parental responsibilities.

Almost every day he would pull out the vinyl set of an opera, and sit there listening to the entire thing from beginning to end, like the way most people would watch a movie. There were different versions with different conductors, and he would point out the difference, he liked one because it was slower, and disliked another because it was too slow. When he had a few glasses of wine in him, he passionately conducted with such vigor, that he often caught the side of his glasses, sending them half way across the room. He described music like it was food or wine, on many occasions I had to come to his house and hear the piece of music he was talking about because it sounded so delicious, I usually preferred his description to the actual, I often wished that I could just compose what he talked.

When I was in Wexford, I often went to Bernard’s house in the late afternoon for a cup of tea and a biscuit, he made a perfect cup of tea, and delighted in passing me the black plastic Jack Daniels ice bucket, filled with a Biscuit variety; all the ones that I denied myself at home: Kimberly, ginger nuts, custard creams, bourbons and fig rolls. In the half light of the evening we would sit there and talk, he avoided bulb light until the last minute, he would quote his Brother Jimmy, of whom he was very proud “Jimmy would kill you for putting the light on during the day” Seeing Bernard at this time was always a great respite from life’s pressure. His world seemed to portray an older time, it was like visiting a parent or grandparent even, he had that kind of generosity. God knows he wasn’t rich, but he was never broke either, he seemed to be above it and required little luxury beyond his Hi Fi and 52″ TV.

There is no question that Bernard liked a moan on his down days, but he never minded me telling him to give it a rest, at those times he would transfer from a caring older sibling to childlike, he could be very self – critical at these times, and he seldom, if ever, said bad things behind other peoples backs. He usually would say it to their face if he had something to say, and most likely it was for the other persons good….Except for politicians of course! It’s probably just as well that he never met Maggie Thatcher.

Over all there was only one Bernard Lacey, and there will never be another, we have lost a great character and a massive presence, a tremendous intellect and fountain of musical knowledge. I have lost a great friend, Wexford has not been the same since he left Johns Street last year and returned to England to be with his Children and Grand Children at the end of his life. That house still has his heart beating behind the lace curtains, I imagine him sitting there in his pilots armchair, multiple TV controllers on the right arm, hi fidelity stereo within reach of the left, cup of tea on the table and ironed hankie on his knee. He has left us too quietly it seems, but all requiems end with Libere Me, the calm at the end of a storm. Bernard was a storm of energy and huge presence. He gave more than he took, except for now, he has taken himself. Clare and I have dreaded this day, we knew it was coming, if there is a heaven, they better be ready for a good argument.

Bernard Lacey died on Aug 11th 2016.
Bernard photo

My Father was a Fire Man



(Please let me know that you are out there, make a short comment, it can get lonely otherwise. And thanks for an amazing gig at Joe’s Pub).

My oldest sister Delores gave me this photo of the Wexford Fire Brigade for my birthday, it’s an unusual one that I had never seen before, my father Jem is the last one front right. He later became the Captain, and so we had the phone (incoming calls only).

My first legitimate musical experience was at the age of nine when I joined a brass and reed band in my hometown of Wexford in the southeast of Ireland.

We had just moved down from a fireman’s bungalow at the top of the hill to a three-storey house on the quay with a shop underneath it. My father had been a part-time fireman, while the other part of his time was spent working in Pierce’s Foundry as a turner, those names are coincidental incidentally. The bungalows up on Davitt Road came with the Fire Brigade. Ten semi-detached houses in a row all connected by a loud alarm bell to the Captain – Mr Crosby’s – house, he had the Fire Brigade’s telephone to the outside world. If someone wanted to raise the alarm, they would call him and he would press a button that would ring through all the houses. He would also turn on the siren in the fire station which would travel through the entire town and beyond. If anyone was at work it was understood that they had dispensation to leave. My father would hop on his heavy black bike with the iron spring saddle and make his way up the many hills on the way to the fire station.

My mother was an ambitious woman and she wanted to move up in the world, so we came down the hill. When we got down there she was a bit nervous about me and my brother Paddy hanging around with a rougher crowd down around the main street, so she got us off the street by having us join an all male Catholic brass and reed band called The Holy Family Confraternity Brass and Reed Band. Father Bernie was the main benefactor for The Holy Family Confraternity Brass and Reed Band and he was a very nice man, but he had an unfortunate style of sermonizing, instead of going up he went down, and instead of going down he went up. It made for an unfortunate effect upon the entire congregation bringing us to within a heartbeat of slumber.

 Father Bernie got us involved in all the main religious occasions of the year, the biggest one being the Mary Queen of May march when we marched out to a grotto on the outskirts of town where there is a statue of the Blessed Virgin. I always thought that we were marching out there because she had appeared there but it turned out we were marching out there to try and get her to appear there. When we got out there, Father Bernie said mass in his usual sing songy kind of voice, and it was then for the first time in my life I came to an understanding of how horses fall asleep standing up.

After he had said mass we would turn around and start shuffling back into town. We sang hymns as we went along the way. We had a female choir and a male choir, the female choir were all dressed as the Blessed Virgin herself and the male choir were not. We sang hymns like Oh sacrament most holy, Oh Sacrament divine, all praise, and all thanks giving be every moment thine. Now it was turning into dusk and we lit candles as we came up the hill into the outskirts of town where people stood in a state of reverence at their doorways, and down to the folly where we dispersed, some people went for a cuppa tea and some went for a pint, but we all felt vindicated, we had done something for an hour and a half with absolutely no material rewards, and now we were floating on the security of tradition and the infinity of a silent conscience.

As much as my father liked being a fireman and the few extra bob that came with it, he soon packed up the house and followed us down the hill. On the evenings during the interim when he was obligated to stay there overnight, my mother would send one of us there to have his tea ready for him when he came home from work. I remember running down the hill in the dark having sliced the brown bread and cheese and laid it out on the small wooden table with a fresh pot of rich amber tea.

“Oh be the holy mack” he would say with discomfort, I knew what he wasn’t saying, he didn’t need to articulate his affection.

“You better go back home now, your Mammy will be waitin for ye”

New York New York sizzzzle

N Y Skyline

Thursday morning 11:07 it’s 85 degrees and 90% humidity, not sure if we should open the windows or keep them closed.  We’ve had the AC on all night in the back of the house where the bedroom is, and it’s nice and cool, but we don’t want to live in AC all day with the windows closed, Clare says its like living in a cave, and I agree.  She is heading out for a breakfast meeting and I need to work on the set for my gig at Joes Pub next Thursday, she suggests that I should go to the Italian cafe on the corner of 10th to get out of here.  As I’m heading out the door I am confronted with a dilemma; should I open the windows or keep them closed? For someone living in Ireland this is a no-brainer, but this is New York, in the centre of Manhattan.  When I came here first I remember being astonished when someone told me that they aimed their fan outwards in order to exhale the humidity, as opposed to blowing the air in. Humidity is the real problem here, not so much the heat, obviously you would only do this if you have no AC. The next best cure was to keep the windows closed, try and keep the humidity out, just grin an bear the dryer heat, that seemed nuts to me. Truth is if you don’t have an air conditioner you’re fucked no matter what you do, and I didn’t even have a bloody $26 fan at that time. Anyway I never bought into it, kept the windows wide open, and nothing moved except the mosquitos, not an ounce of air or wind. I just walked around in my underpants with the sweat dripping down my chest, hadn’t acquired shorts yet, went against the Irish grain, I found them a little embarrassing, or uncool, not David Bowie enough.

However now I’m a grown man, and I have AC! (and shorts) but I don’t want to have it on all day. So should I leave the windows closed as I’m going out, or close them? I decide to leave them closed and keep whatever cool air that is there within. I’ll re-appraise the situation when I’m out there; decide what I should do upon my return to the cave.

I push the tired old metal street door open – top-half cracked glass, covered from head to toe in graffiti – and there it is the force of damp heat bearing down on the half naked sweaty citizens hauling their tired arses along the pavement.  A tall unshaven man in a sweaty undershirt thuds his beaten body towards me, soggy denim shorts, off white socks and shapeless dirty sneakers, he has a long tired face, long hair in a ragged pony tail, ear buds attached to his phone and an old cloth bag twisted around his hand. He is an ugly unhappy looking bugger, almost dangerous, but probably not, he only has half of my attention until he makes an ugly leeching sound “chu-wawwwww” and casts his tired head downwards at two passing women passing him by.  Now with their back to him and me are two young women in their early twenties, I can’t see their faces, but can tell from their skin that they are young and that the one he is panting at, is black.  The two women completely ignore him, obviously used to this shit.  I am always astonished at this, I see this all the time in New York, big ugly looking assholes oogling women to their faces, what do they think; that they have a chance? That the women like this?  I try to imagine what it is like to be the woman, it seems like they are used to it as part of the daily routine in this city, I can’t imagine adding this to my life as part of the difficulty commuting in this overcrowded city.

Only once did I come close to this experience, it comes back to me now as I try to get inside the thoughts of these women.  Back in the eighties my friend Larry Kirwan and a guy called Jacque from Lyon used to bounce around New York bars looking for fun.  When our usual haunts were dull and too familiar, Jacque would exclaim “Gypse!!” imminently we would hop in to a yellow cab and head towards 49th and First Avenue where there was a cabaret club owned by a transvestite performer called Gypse, of course it was predominantly a gay hang-out, but that never even crossed our mind.  One Monday night with nothing going on anywhere, we swung into Gypse half stoned and up for the Craic.  Gypse was up on the stage, a tall skinny drag artist with a sharp tongue and wicked sense of humor.  We were glued to the stage laughing and yelping in support, when suddenly I noticed a table of men to my right, they were all staring at us, looking us up and down, one of them said ” alright…that’s more like it” I felt like a lump of meat, it made me withdraw and want to hide behind something, that is the nearest I ever came to what these women must feel like, and this guy was not being rude, he was doing what people do in singles bars, I can’t imagine experiencing that when I’m just popping out to get some milk.

To my surprise, the apartment was pretty cool when I returned, even without the air conditioner, keeping the windows closed had kept the humidity out, they were right all those years ago when I didn’t believe them.

Just rehearsed “Thunderstorm” with the full ensemble, including the original drum part with Mark Brotter, Andriette Redmann on Bass Synth, John Roksony on Guitar and Fred Parcells playing the original Trombone that he played on the album Now Is Heaven. Forget all the agony of the world, leave the heat on the street, and come to our love fest at Joe’s Pub in Manhattan on Thursday July 21 at 7pm.

Don’t worry, I know you’re busy, I’ll play for the Japanese tourists


Joe’s Pub Thursday July 21st at 7pm The Pierce Turner Ensemble http://publictheater.org/Tickets/Calendar/PlayDetailsCollection/Joes-Pub/2016/P/Pierce-Turner-Ensemble/

It’s Monday July 4th, it hasn’t been an easy week up till now. The previous Sunday June 26th was a wondrous day at the Sheen Theatre on Bleeker Street in the Village. The author Joseph O’Connor had invited us to perform at the Angela’s Ashes 20th Anniversary Concert in this newly renovated hi tech auditorium, it was a bill filled with a mish mash of talented people, all strung together around one simple premise; respect for the deceased Frank McCourt and his hugely successful memoir. It was mostly an evening of spoken word, other than that; Jean Butler (of Riverdance fame) Danced, Larry Kirwan my old cohort from Wexford sang, and I sang with my NY Ensemble. All performers were asked to stay within a four-minute framework, and most of us did, so it was a quickly paced event that never allowed the usual absent-mided types to hog the limelight.

At the end of the evening Malachy McCourt and his youngest brother Alphie took to the stage in their own time, Malachy at eighty four pushing his grey walker, and Alphie at Seventy Six with his silver tie hanging out and swinging slowly from his forward leaning gait, a dry under-pronounced pleasantness etched into his milky pale Irish skin; skin that suggested his hair had been ginger before it turned grey. Malachy beamed from ear to ear with long grey hair that curled over his large white dinner jacket, it was easy to see in him the child that Frank described in the book as so charming and inquisitive with his little pearly white teeth. Before them Gabriel Byrne had been at the podium, he had just come from the Theatre where he had completed the final performance of the four-hour Eugene O’Neill play Long days journey into night. As had been the pattern throughout the evening his presence was natural and understated, he spoke in a soft deliberate Dublin accent and compared O’Neill’s play to Angela’s Ashes in the way that they both dug deep into the microcosm of one family, the hidden shame, pain and truth. He also talked about how Frank could be charming company one minute and then in the next decapitate you with a knife. It was easy to become totally immersed as he delivered his gentle thoughts on why this evening was important, and why he was there and why we were there, he hadn’t much to say he said, and because he wasn’t trying, he was all the more powerful.

The same applied to Alphie and Malachy, they had no intention of knocking us out. Malachy sat down on his Walker as Alphie underwhelmed with the might of a humble Guru, saddened by the fact that his Brother Michael had died six months previous, he motioned the shape of an arc with his hand and said, I’m sure he’s around here somewhere “Michael was always fighting with Frank, I remember coming out of some place one evening with drink taken, and Michael had been arguing with Frank for some time, Frank just brushed him off with clever reposts, finally Michael shouted, you’re nothing only a tortured version of James Joyce! of course all of us, including Frank, just fell around laughing” Alphie pulled out a hanky from his brown jacket and wiped his nose periodically, occasionally coughing with a dry throat, after a roll of droll humour, then he just quietly strolled off stage through the wing, malachy pulled the goose necked mike towards him and thought out loud He’s probably gone for a drink, OK, so I’ll just say a few words, as King Henry the Eighth said to his many wives, I won’t keep you long! Eventually Alphie returned, and they finished with a song, encouraging us all to sing along, and try we did, even though we didn’t have the foggiest what the words were, but the song was infectious.  The humility of these two unpretentious men reminded me that you don’t have to jump through hoops to touch an audience; you just have to be honest. It was a magical event, and all I can think is that Frank McCourt and his masterwork had hovered over the whole affair and turned the mish mash into a coherent homage.

That was Sunday. The next day, Monday, I was standing in my kitchen leaning against the countertop, still quietly pleased with the previous days happening, there before me seated by the door was Kevin the owner of an Irish Wheaton Terrier called Murphy, and talking to him with her back to me sat Clare, in between them sat upon the floor was Murphy. We had been minding Murphy for Kevin for several days, and I had walked him, fed him, patted him on the head, rubbed him under the chin, and only made him wear his muzzle while I was walking him, he had sat on the couch with me when I watching the European cup. It seemed cruel to make him wear the muzzle around the house, although he had to wear it because of some unclear personality trait. He is a medium size, very muscular dog that is excitable. I was waving my hands about, talking of who knows what, when Murphy with a viscous growl lunged at me and took a lump out of my index finger, I looked at Kevin with the fear of God in my eyes and the word HELP screaming in silence, pulling my hand away only suggested attack to the dog, now he went for my stomach tearing a hole in my shirt and puncturing the skin, his growl was as ferocious as his action, I felt completely helpless, if I moved, he would get worse, all I could do was let him attack it seemed. Kevin jumped up and shouted HEY!! Grabbing Murphy by the collar and pulling him back, a little too late for me.


“Are you alright?”


“Yeah, I don’t know what happened” I said, shaken, embarrassed and uncomfortable, for the dog and the owner, while my blood was spilling all over the kitchen tiles. Clare who was feeling all the same emotions as me about the dog and owner (Catholics) explained that I was probably bleeding that much because I take a baby aspirin every day. That split my emotions for a second, I was now feeling that some sympathy was in order, and that this was still real blood, so what if it was a little thinner! The dog and the worried owner left, my favourite shirt was ripped apart and we went to the emergency ward at Beth Israel where three hours later I got stitches in my finger.

That was Monday. Tuesday comes and it’s a hot one, Clare and I decide to go for a swim over at Asser Levy, an excellent Olympic size public pool over on 21st Street and First Avenue. I point out to Clare that my favourite American Camper sandals are starting to fall apart, the rubber souls are flapping in the front and in the back, it had been going on for a while, but now they were getting dangerous. She had ordered a new pair with Amazon but they hadn’t come yet. Clare suggested that I wear them over to the Pound Shop along the way, and that we would get a cheap pair for three dollars there that would get me to the pool and back. After going though a heap of very bright plastic sandals we finally settled on a black pair that were a bit on the big side. The pool has its rules though, you must have a lock for the locker, no magazines, no phones, and you must shower before going in the pool. So Clare goes to the women’s to change and I go upstairs to the Men’s locker room. Clare reminded me that you can get verruca’s in public showers, so I should wear my new plastic sandals to the shower, after all they are waterproof unlike my campers. I wet myself and my shoes, lock the locker and swing down the stairs, the wet stairs! BANG!! My feet went flying up in the air… the hard plastic shoes were now like boards in a water slide, I hit that hard stone stairs screaming involuntarily, beyond all Catholic restraint, my pain echoed up the stair well so loud that the two jaded janitors came and asked me was I alright, my feet had gone so far into the black shoes that they were stretched over my ankles now, I had landed on my left arse, and it was swollen so bad I barely recognized it, I was half of a hippie person, half big bum, my neck hurt, the ring on my finger had carved a purple bruise where it tried to travel towards my wrist, every muscle in my body ached, and people were looking at me. I was in agony, and I was embarrassed, AGAIN!


I hobbled out to swimming pool where Clare was frolicking around like a baby seal, I hobbled towards the ladder mouthing my agony towards her, finally, after boring a hole into the back of her head she glanced in my direction “ I have just had the worst fall of my life” I mouthed towards her. She had “what now?” on her lips as I descended into the cool soothing water. On the way home Clare insisted on bringing the shoes back to the Pound Shop, I stood outside while she argued with two Chinese teenage girls about how dangerous the shoes were. I think this was her way of showing she cared, so I let her, even though I thought it was unreasonable. She got the three bucks back, and I hobbled home in my flappy campers.


To this day I am covered in bruise patterns, a myriad of colours like an angry sky, deep purples, black and blue, with a translucent sulpher yellow, they are in the front of my leg, the back of my leg, my left arse, reaching up over the front of my stomach where they almost meet the ones on my right stomach with the puncture wounds left by Murphy. The ground they cover is so vast, it’s clear now that I had so many spots that were hurt, I had lost track of them, but the bruises are there like a map to show where they were.


That was Tuesday. A few days later I heard that Alphie went to bed for a sleep and never woke up. Another bruise, this one on the inside.


On Monday July 4th I sat by Clare’s cousin Amanda’s pool in Philadelphia, they had a party that was set to climax with a fire works display by the local Chamber of Commerce come nightfall. It was absolutely pouring rain, and we sat huddled under umbrella’s drinking beer and eating bread and cheese. A woman whom I knew, but wasn’t sure how, lamented that she hadn’t been to an Irish music festival in ages, she heard that the Milwaukie Irish beer festival was great as usual and when was I playing again?


“July 21st I’m at Joe’s Pub in Manhattan”


“Oh I can’t possibly go to something on July 31st, I have a School………etc”


“No it’s not on the 31st, it’s on July 21st


“Oh that’s even worse, I can’t possibly go to a gig on the 21st….etc”


I jumped in the pool and watched the fireworks over the high trees, above the occasional lighted windows of a passing train, in the rain.

Tears come easily at airports and conversation

A great number of people were turned away from Pierce Turner's performance with his string quartet at Puck Fair on March 25th the final night before the bar closed because of an expired lease. Turner ran through almost all of his best known songs, and the everyone sang their hearts out as he strolled across the counter knocking over glasses of beer as he

A great number of people were turned away from Pierce Turner’s performance with his string quartet at Puck Fair on March 25th the final night before the bar closed because of an expired lease. Turner ran through almost all of his best known songs, and the everyone sang their hearts out as he strolled across the counter knocking over glasses of beer as he

I am back in NYC getting ready for the Frank McCourt 20th Anniversary show this Sunday at the Sheen Centre in Manhattan (sold out) it’s a new Theatre on Bleeker Street.


Having just spent a lot of time waiting in airports, I found myself noticing the effect of it and wondering if there is a song there? It’s a kind of neutral ground, a place where all of our normal responsibilities go by the wayside; the bills piled upon each other in the hallway, the cost of an Airport sandwich, our guard towards strangers; it feels like everyone there is the same club! And tears come easily, for no particular reason. There is a sense of freedom; everything is put off until tomorrow, and no one can reasonably expect you to do a task regardless of the urgency. It’s like you are in outer space and can’t be reached until you land, you don’t have to watch what you eat or drink, and it doesn’t matter if it’s morning or night. Travelling can be hard, taking off the belt and the shoes, the in and out of the computer, explaining all the bloody wires that I have to carry with me, shoving it all down the line while holding on to my trousers, counting the gates for miles and miles, only to find an elevator that takes me to the next set of gates. But once you get there and put down the bags, there is a great moment of respite to relish as you people watch with a very expensive pint and sandwich in hand, knowing that you are such a cad at that moment, that you are not phased by doling out a small fortune.


Thanks everyone who came to the Irish gigs, they were really thrilling for me, singing in those acoustics with that organ coming from behind the audience while we came from the front, created something truly unique, so special that I am adamant about doing a bunch more the next time, and it seemed to bring people out of the woodworks, some old and some new. A gentleman called Donal from Waterford has found a beautiful Church there that we are working on, if you know of a good Church with a working Organ and the right vibe (not stiff or depressing) please get in touch, it doesn’t matter where, let’s look at it first before we decide. And I mean In the US or UK also.

But what about Manhattan? I am asked, that other show is sold out! No need to fret, we have a good one coming up at the glorious Joe’s Pub. We will have the full ensemble from the last NY Church gig; Andriette Redman on Bass and vocals plus Kath Green on vocals and percussion, John Rokosny guitar, Fred Parcells on the Bone and vocals, and Mark Brotter on Drums and percussion, me on the Grand Piano and guitar, we will do the new album and the old ones, tickets are on sale starting now. I hope to see all the familiar faces and those new ones that have been popping up with the gleeful surprise of virginity.

One gets the feeling that these are golden days judging by the reaction in Ireland in New York, please come and celebrate with a nice cool cocktail, bring your vibe and I’ll bring mine. BTW, I made it a Thursday to suit your summer weekends. Px







Irish Press for Love Can’t Always Be Articulate


The Irish Mail on Sunday June 12-2016

This album’s songs quiver in the natural acoustic’s of the Manhattan Lutheran Church where he recorded it… Tantum Ergo and Billy Sunday have a Churchy resonance. Not so, the rousing Sorrow is a solid feeling or the acoustic cover of T Rex’s Life’s a Gas. His devoted fans will be delighted. * * *


The Irish Times interview May 30 – 2016

“There is very little melody in the current pop idiom” The same cannot be said of the uncompromising Music of Wexford’s Pierce Turner, who wears his ecclesiastical influences proudly.


The Sunday Business Post Magazine June 12-2016

Turner’s vocals are laden with sentiment, with a fragility that is emotionally affecting, most powerfully on I Think It’s going to rain today, Adios Romeo, and warm swaying closer, the Paul Simon like Human Prayer. There’s even an enchanting version of Marc Bolan’s Life’s a Gas. LOVELY.



Drowning in a Pool of Monday’s Rain

The weather man on Channel 2 is a red haired fella with black horn-rimmed glasses. He’s a dapper little fella and always makes a crack pertaining to the previous news announcement from the charming presenters on the morning show. He is introduced with such regularity; it would be impossible for him to not be annoying. It may be every 7 minutes or something as ridiculous as that.

This Monday morning I turned on the T.V at the once unthinkable hour of 7.30 a.m. Now I have to admit that it’s become very thinkable, ever since Clare introduced me to morning T.V. The announcer who reads the news was on, a likeable fella with slicked back hair and some kind of sinus problem, I always look right into his face to see where the sound problem is coming from. I can clearly hear the squeezed pressure in his voice, and yet he shows no visible tightness in his nose. After his brief update on the latest news he made his usual announcement – “And now over to Billy Elliot for the latest on the weather”. I thought to myself “here we go”: Billy seemed to hover in under a bleak fog and cloud swamped concrete shot of Manhattan skyscrapers.

“Take a good look at this, and get used to it” he perked with a wobble of his head and a smirk.

“This is what it’s going to be like all week l…o…n…g.”

This is Wednesday, and I’m way behind on my Monday morning blog. I have been so incapacitated by the weather, I found it impossible to write. This evening we were so exasperated, Clare and I looked at each other and both blurted HELP!!!!! We called up our friend Carol downstairs and said “where can we go?” She suggested this place over on 14th Street – 5 napkin something – and we went there for their happy hour. Six glasses of wine later (for two) and 2 sliders (small burgers) and some sushi yokes, we came out of there $60 lighter, and braved the Irishy sea fret back home.

On the street there was a lot of tension, people were arguing. A tall, sixtyish black woman, sat on a stoop beneath a scaffolding arguing with an angry man with an Eastern European accent. He shouted in a heated rage.

“When you gonna gi-me dat durty fy dollahs you owe me?”

They both looked like they had a few, and a white male friend looked on with bemusement.

“you neva gonna let dat go are you?”

“How many times I godda ask?” he shouted, his small nose now curled up in anger above his six o’clock shadow.

“We made a arrangement dat you seemed to forgot, but you aint neva gonna let me foget are you, no never!!!”

“Why should I fo-get, you neva paid me back, it’s durty fy dollahs, you got no principle”

Soon their blood pressure voices trailed off behind us, Clare linked me as we headed home towards First Avenue, in the cold fog.

New York’s not normally like this. Bad weather of this description, usually tails off after a day or two. But this is hanging in there, and according to Billy Elliot, the weather man, it will be like this until Friday.

And then I recall my 19th year in Dublin, walking through a leafy park in the soft afternoon rain, a small park designated to the memory of some old wealthy west Brit, paid for so that the likes of me could have a place of green to daydream in away from the traffic, a place of green for me and a memorial for them, so that the world would remember they once had been here. I, almost hallucinating from the lack of meaning and direction in my life, with the regular companionship of rain and weather mixed with teenage pain, the desire for love, for success, for meaning, for an answer, felt it was such a potent cocktail that it rendered me numb and beyond the ability of intellectual appraisal. I may have been severely depressed half the time, but didn’t know about that kind of thing really.

Now, here I am moaning about five days of rain, after living with fifty in a row, repeatedly in my Irish youth.

New Yorkers are ripping each other to pieces because of it, in Ireland we turned it into art. What else could we do, there were no therapists.

Why do Italian restaurants make such a big deal out of pepper?

pepper photo for blog

Why do they keep the pepper off in a sacred place? They make such a big deal out of it. The table has a little white porcelain holder with sachets of brown sugar, white sugar, fake sugar – two different types of fake sugar actually, and salt, and of course ominous in its absence, the star of Italian cuisine PEPPER!

If there was no salt and I asked for some, I would get my own salt cellar or a small dish with an unhealthy helping of that historically relevant powder. But if  I should ask for pepper, there would be a “one moment please” reply, and a disappearance into the back to procure the precious spice. It feels like we should almost genuflect when it is brought out, a large wooden phallic-shaped device is maneuvered above your food and the large knob at its head is turned two or three times, if you look hard some tiny motes of dark dust will have landed on the food, the waiter appears to be saying “surely that’s enough?” and you reply to his tacit expression “That’s good, thank you” even though I would like some more, the guilt is too great, I don’t want to be greedy do I?

But wait a second, it’s just pepper, it’s not truffle. It’s a big yoke with a dollar’s worth of pepper corns inside of it, I bet those sachets of fake sugar cost more. And at this rate of usage, it must last for a week. You can buy these pepper corns anywhere around here, with great ease. They aren’t sought out by special pigs in deep leaves at the base of a swollen tree!

When my sandwich arrives – a small spinach omelette type of thing in a heated croissant – it’s pretty good. This is an Italian café at the corner of 10th Street and First Avenue, it is run by real Italians and the latte is authentic with a rich brown coffee cream on the top – it sets me up for the European vibe of the sandwich, it’s small and I’m fine with that, not that hungry anyway this morning. My eyes immediately scan the table and the ominous absence of pepper only leads to its greater importance. I don’t want to annoy the waiter, it’s breakfast, it feels inappropriate to ask him to bring it out into the sun from its resting place to the sidewalk where I listen to two New York women bullshitting each over-affectionately, and with rap music pouring out of every car stopped at the traffic lights; it seems sacrilegious to bring the pepper out here, just for my breakfast. So I just eat the bloody thing as it is, all the while thinking that it’s good but could use a sharp flavor to cut through the buttery croissant and add colour to the neutral tasting eggs. And you know that the waiter is holding, it’s written all over his face, he’s like an undercover cop, you know he’s got the power, you know he’s got a gun behind there, he doesn’t need to show it. He will only produce it if he has to.

The two women finish their espressos and leave, they kiss and hug, one of them would be honoured to be involved in whatever it is that the other one was proudly proffering, they walk away.

Five minutes later one of them returns and orders my sandwich. The pepper remains in its sanctuary though, awaiting the evening worship.

Madama Butterfly

Met Opera House Madama Butterfly Pierce Turner Bloig

The flu came on Friday afternoon, my sister Bernie and her son Gareth arrived in New York on Sunday afternoon. We planned to prepare a nice Sunday roast for them as a New York welcoming. But I was a pale version of myself that day, the shivering had ceased, and the muscle pains, but I was limp and incapable of expending any energy. So we regrouped and decided to have a very New York delivery of pizza from Stromboli’s on the corner of St Marks Place. It was a good idea, and with a nice salad, we weren’t too glutenised. It was Gareth’s first visit to NY so he got a bit of a kick out of the large pie box sat in the middle of the table with its Italian motif.

On Wednesday we continued the Italian theme with an evening at the Met Opera House for Puccini’s Madama Butterfly – I adore Giacomo Puccini’s orchestration, and we sat way up high where (cheap seats) I could watch the orchestra following the masterful direction of the conductor. Puccini had come from a musical family, they had dominated the area – Cattedrale di San Martino in Lucca – where they lived for over 120 years, all church organists, one after another, and when Giacomo’s father died, his talented son was in line to do the same, but he was only six.

However, in his early twenties after going through the conservatory he did take over the organ for a while. As I said, I have always loved his work, but it’s been a while since I last witnessed one of his operas live. Many thoughts came to mind, firstly that the original Met had been built by the same man who created the church where I recorded my new album. Secondly, I could hear the organ in his orchestration, sometimes it sounded like a huge organ, with more moving parts of course. And then I thought about how I may have been sub-consciously seeking this while recording in the church, through the organ! It has such a human quality, with the wind blowing through its pipes, it can sound like flutes, or trumpets, or like a full ensemble.

This Friday morning, I took my family to the church to show them around. Madama Butterfly was still ringing through our ears when I sat at the organ and played an improvisation using an array of sounds, I was inspired, Puccini was in my heart. I believe that there is another album in this church. Madama Butterfly finally chased away the cobwebbed flu residue. Music has saved me once again.

If you are in New York maybe you can come share the love with us this Sunday 17th at the Harp 45th st and 3rd Avenue-6pm. It will be a special night I believe, after the Church and Puck Fair, there is magic in the air.

Love px


Forty dollar cup of coffee

N Y Skyline

The house is creaking like an old ship; I hear a woman’s voice that I don’t recognize in the apartment up above, she is talking to a higher-pitched male voice than the usual tenant who lives there. Could it be Airbnb or just visitors from out of town? It’s definitely someone who is experiencing new things to speak about, I can hear the relish in their voices. A truck beeps its reversal warning somewhere in the cavernous collection of random sounds that siren, shout and scrape out there in world behind this house. Even though that world back there – referred to as Alphabet City – has transformed from drug-addled poverty to upscale restaurants and valuable real estate, I still think of the front of the house as the place the important stuff happens. The front is where the numbered Avenues begin, First through Tenth, as opposed to A to D.

“Is that the phone?” My heart raises.

“Oh, it is the same ring but muffled, must be the next door phone.” Disappointed, I sink back into the mattress, wish the bell would ring or something; even the postman would be a lift. I never knew raindrops could be so loud, and the tick of that big old secondhand clock that we bought on the street, there goes a church bell, the hoo hoo of the turtle doves that come to our window to eat the flowers, a fire engine scream, a staccato truck brake, and the building never stops creaking! What the hell is that about? It seems to be groaning at the weather, it is a miserable grey wet day, very reminiscent of Ireland, the building seems to wince at every raindrop.

I’m lying in the bed on Monday morning with the flu. I went to the gym on Friday morning and worked a little harder than usual. Instead of just riding the bike for a half-hour aerobic I ran for 15 minutes too, at a fair pace. And then I did a little extra on a few of the weight yokes, came home, had a hot bath, and was feeling a bit sore. Thinking that it was because of the extra stuff at the gym, I dried off and sat on the bed to put on clean socks and felt the urge to just lie down for a second afterwards. About a half hour later I woke up feeling really sore, a bit confused, I dragged myself out of the bed “God I’ve got to get going, I’m wasting time here… I know! I’ll go across to the Italian café and get a latte to go, that way I’ll get some fresh air and some caffeine”. It was bizarre weather on Friday, the temperature soared to 78 degrees, so I put on a t-shirt and shorts. Boy, everything hurt; just lifting my leg to shove it into the shorts was a strain. I decided that I would take forty dollars with me for the coffee, on the way there I would amble past that Korean massage place and see if that bloke was in there, maybe I would get one of their half hour deals for $24.99. The bloke was the best, I had tried it before and got him by accident, he had been sitting behind the counter while the other ladies stood around, I talked to him because he seemed like he worked there, not knowing that they all did too. He worked on my shoulder knot and was getting somewhere when I heard a bloke come in and ask in a booming voice “Is the man here?” They answered in subservient broken English, next minute a woman’s voice is whispering furtively through a slit in the makeshift door behind me, he whispers back, and I can feel the hands change on my neck, I could hear the men talking in the reception as she continued the job with her small hands. That’s how I knew he was the best, he came back in five minutes and the hands changed again, and the difference was huge.

Once I got outside into the blaring sunshine, I felt that coffee was not an option and proceeded to the massage parlour. Mike was there they said (found out his name) and he came out from his lunch to sort me out. But when I left there I was even worse and was only barely able to walk home, I got in bed and my head was on fire, it dawned on me then, that I had the accursed flu.

So here I lie in my empty apartment, Clare is at work, the world is in school. Watching the television or reading gives me a headache, so I listen to my mind having a field day with my …. mind? Apparently I’m a complete fuck-up and no matter how good my new album is, no one will give a shit (according to it/me /him) I can usually shut the bugger up, but maybe that’s why we get the flu, so that he can a word in. Every inch of me hurts, even my hands! How fondly I remember last Thursday, of course I didn’t know how well off I was then. Where did I catch it? That ould one behind me at the gym sneezed countless times all over me and never covered her mouth, I even threw her a look, she looked puzzled, she was always a cantankerous prat, is this house sinking to the south? Can you get the flu from a sneeze? I’m falling asleep once again, zzzzzzzzzz

Last Night I Had a Dream

A great number of people were turned away from Pierce Turner's performance with his string quartet at Puck Fair on March 25th the final night before the bar closed because of an expired lease. Turner ran through almost all of his best known songs, and the everyone sang their hearts out as he strolled across the counter knocking over glasses of beer as he

Last night I had a dream.

I had a dream last night that I wrote the perfect hit song. I was able to look at it objectively and decide that it had all the necessary content to be a hit. It had a catchy melody, but not obvious, it twisted slightly just when you thought you knew where it was going, and after turning that mysterious corner, just as you were feeling a little lost, it returned to a hook that looked and felt like home, like the familiar wallpaper of my parents sitting room, it made me feel at ease, a hand in glove, and it broke into groove with slight edge making me want to dance. Remember this was a dream, so there were no practical issues that could interfere with the appointed outcome, also, because it was a dream it may have begun with the outcome before it started, so it could be pre-designed to not fail. Maybe I wished that I could write a hit song and then dreamed that I did, so therefore I knew what I wanted before I began, so being that it is a make believe world anyhow, there was no reason for my wishes to have any obstacle to impede their conclusion.

However, there was a snag. I sat there looking at the song for a while and thought of what the consequences might be if it was a hit, or should I say “when” it was a hit, in the dream there was absolutely no doubt, I just needed to put it out there. It was all very clear and exact in the dream. If I put the song out it was going to be a huge hit, it would be all over the radio, it would have millions of hits on YouTube, instead of booking venues that hold 100 to 300 people I would be playing in six thousand seaters like Radio City Music Hall. The newfound wealth that would come with this played no part in the dream at all by the way.

A cold plastic feeling came across me, I could see the song as an island of architectural precision, it was like a ship or a spacecraft, everyone wanted to get on board it, and it was clear to me that it would sink, crash and burn pretty soon after it was launched with all my present friends on board , some new ones would die too, when it was over there would be no-one left, and no new ones interested either. It was a one hit wonder, I would live in the world of novelty for the rest of my days. It was horrifying to me. When I woke up, I lay there on my back staring at the ceiling fan stood still with a cobweb reaching across to my signed Angela’s Ashes in its zip-locked bag on the shelf above my head, one day it might be worth something? Money! Fame, fortune, I believe that I once assumed those things would come my way one day, lately I have become more and more skeptical about that outcome. But I have to say that dreams can straighten out this kind of confusion. I woke up this morning with a slightly clearer idea of what it is that I want, and a little more sure that I may have known all along. Just like the dream, I planned the outcome before I began.