For Pat Tiernan, who died suddenly July 24 of a heart attack at his home in East Greenbush at age 29, music was everything.
A veteran of the local music scene, Tiernan was known for his work with the band Mobana and more recently, Odus Budd and What It Is. He also hosted an open mic night at the Bayou Cafe in Albany for a number of years, and had hosted a Tuesday night open mic at Graney’s Stout in Albany for the past 10 months.
He would play seven nights a week — sometimes playing two shows in one day, according to his father, Kevin Tiernan. Even when he wasn’t playing a gig, Tiernan was playing his guitar.
“He would play no matter where he was — somebody’s cellar, somebody’s campfire, Pat always had his guitar,” Kevin said. “His main guitar — he had a Gibson SG — he took that to school every day with him, all through high school. His brother Brian did the same thing; he kind of followed in his footsteps.”
Always ready to play
“His guitar was as important to him as a cellphone is to a teenager — he would never leave home without his guitar,” said Mike Graney, owner of Graney’s Stout. “It was always with him, and he would break it out wherever he was — at the mall, a school, a family function. He always wanted to play.”
Graney’s Stout and the Bayou Cafe hosted benefit shows for Tiernan’s family to help defray funeral costs. Another benefit is planned for Aug. 12, at Smokin’ Joe’s Barbecue in East Greenbush.
Tiernan began playing guitar at age 13, but his first performance in front of a live audience was at 7 years old with his father.
“We were doing a show up in Troy for Vietnam vets, and he was singing and playing tambourine, and dancing around with us,” his father said. “I wanted to teach him to play back then, but he wasn’t ready to learn back at 7 years old, so I let him tell me when he was ready.”
Chad Mendrysa, bassist for Ten Year Vamp and Mobana, first met Tiernan when the two were in middle school. Both were playing at a talent show, and Mendrysa immediately knew that he wanted to play music with Tiernan. The two went on to play together off and on for the next 15 years.
“It was his playing, his voice — the kid was very, very talented,” Mendrysa said. “For me there was just no one else that I wanted to play with, just him.”
Mark Rose, guitarist for Ten Year Vamp, saw Tiernan perform a few years ago at his open mic at the Bayou Cafe. Tiernan went on to sit in with Ten Year Vamp at a show, filling in on second guitar.
“Everyone talks about how great a musician he was, and a singer, and it’s all true,” Rose said. “But more importantly, Pat was one of the nicest guys you ever met, plain and simple, and that’s a lot more important than whether he can play guitar or not.”
At the time of his death, Tiernan was playing mostly with What It Is, and was planning to move to Austin, Texas, in October to further his music career.
“He had finally found the sound he had been looking for,” Kevin said. “These guys flowed. You need to listen to something from them to see where he was. I mean, people — his friends compared him to Warren Haynes, Stevie Ray Vaughn.”
“It’s great to hear how many people he touched,” Graney said. “It’s been a week now, and people have just reached out tremendously. He had a lot of great friends, and it shows what kind of man he was in the short time he was here. He touched a lot of people’s lives.”