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Mike Vocation

Before songwriter Michael Tiernan moved to town four years ago, he was playing solo sets in a Rome, Italy nightclub, attending seminary school, and studying to become a Catholic priest. "It was called North American College, on a hill right above the Vatican. We could do anything we wanted at night, but I kept getting in trouble for my musical performances in town. I guess they considered it unseemly for a seminary student to be playing out on the town in some Irish pub."

Tiernan left the church institution at age 27 and eventually settled in San Diego, playing gigs between here and in L.A. "It was through my L.A. connections that I heard about the [2004] L.A. Music Awards, and I entered with a demo I recorded in my closet at home in Del Mar. They actually nominated me for Male Singer-Songwriter of the Year. That night, I went up to the Music Box Theater in Hollywood with a whole busload of San Diego musicians and friends, with beer and pizza for everyone. I ended up winning the thing." Two other local acts were nominated for awards, though neither Bridget Bridgette nor Faceles won.

Since January, Tiernan has been hosting a weekly Tuesday night open-mike night at La Mesa's Cosmos Cafe. "It's always a great atmosphere, with half spectators and half musicians coming in to see what's going on."

Tiernan performs at the Martini Ranch in Encinitas on Thursday, April 14.

WHAT'S IN YOUR CD PLAYER?

1. Patty Griffin, 1000 Kisses ("Little woman, huge voice, and the kind of melancholic songs that make you love being alive.")

2. Girlyman, Remember Who I Am ("Acoustic folk/pop trio from NYC with intensely rich harmonies.")

3. David Wilcox, How Did You Find Me Here ("Each track is like a course in songwriting and storytelling.")

4. Crash Carter (untitled demo) ("These guys are still in the studio, and I'm the lucky owner of a demo -- funk/pop North County trio who just rock.")

5. Christ Stuart & Backcountry, Mojave River ("Bluegrass wizards who make you want to do-si-do around the house.")

MOST UNLIKELY SONG INSPIRATION?

"Toothpaste, and the vast selection of choices I faced one day when making a 'quick' trip to the store to buy some. Kind of turned into a social commentary song called 'This One, Not That One,' and it's now a big crowd pleaser. Still never know which toothpaste to buy though."

CHRISTINA OR BRITNEY?

"Definitely Christina. But do they actually exist? I thought they were just lab experiments."

FAVORITE COVER SONG TO PERFORM?

"'The Day I Tried to Live' by Chris Cornell in his Soundgarden days. It's a shocking contrast to my own tunes -- dark but beautiful, and it hits so hard when it's translated on an acoustic guitar. Plus, I get to act like a rock star."

FAVORITE CARTOON?

"Beavis and Butthead got me through college. I have an altar set up to them in my living room. Huh-huh...huh-huh...huh-huh."

WORST REALITY SHOW EVER?

"The Swan. Unhappy and unbeautiful women are given happiness and beauty by boob and butt doctors, oral surgeons, copious amounts of plastic and collagen, and a 'counselor' that convinces them of their new state of bestowed worth. Great song material, though."

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Before songwriter Michael Tiernan moved to town four years ago, he was playing solo sets in a Rome, Italy nightclub, attending seminary school, and studying to become a Catholic priest. "It was called North American College, on a hill right above the Vatican. We could do anything we wanted at night, but I kept getting in trouble for my musical performances in town. I guess they considered it unseemly for a seminary student to be playing out on the town in some Irish pub."

Tiernan left the church institution at age 27 and eventually settled in San Diego, playing gigs between here and in L.A. "It was through my L.A. connections that I heard about the [2004] L.A. Music Awards, and I entered with a demo I recorded in my closet at home in Del Mar. They actually nominated me for Male Singer-Songwriter of the Year. That night, I went up to the Music Box Theater in Hollywood with a whole busload of San Diego musicians and friends, with beer and pizza for everyone. I ended up winning the thing." Two other local acts were nominated for awards, though neither Bridget Bridgette nor Faceles won.

Since January, Tiernan has been hosting a weekly Tuesday night open-mike night at La Mesa's Cosmos Cafe. "It's always a great atmosphere, with half spectators and half musicians coming in to see what's going on."

Tiernan performs at the Martini Ranch in Encinitas on Thursday, April 14.

WHAT'S IN YOUR CD PLAYER?

1. Patty Griffin, 1000 Kisses ("Little woman, huge voice, and the kind of melancholic songs that make you love being alive.")

2. Girlyman, Remember Who I Am ("Acoustic folk/pop trio from NYC with intensely rich harmonies.")

3. David Wilcox, How Did You Find Me Here ("Each track is like a course in songwriting and storytelling.")

4. Crash Carter (untitled demo) ("These guys are still in the studio, and I'm the lucky owner of a demo -- funk/pop North County trio who just rock.")

5. Christ Stuart & Backcountry, Mojave River ("Bluegrass wizards who make you want to do-si-do around the house.")

MOST UNLIKELY SONG INSPIRATION?

"Toothpaste, and the vast selection of choices I faced one day when making a 'quick' trip to the store to buy some. Kind of turned into a social commentary song called 'This One, Not That One,' and it's now a big crowd pleaser. Still never know which toothpaste to buy though."

CHRISTINA OR BRITNEY?

"Definitely Christina. But do they actually exist? I thought they were just lab experiments."

FAVORITE COVER SONG TO PERFORM?

"'The Day I Tried to Live' by Chris Cornell in his Soundgarden days. It's a shocking contrast to my own tunes -- dark but beautiful, and it hits so hard when it's translated on an acoustic guitar. Plus, I get to act like a rock star."

FAVORITE CARTOON?

"Beavis and Butthead got me through college. I have an altar set up to them in my living room. Huh-huh...huh-huh...huh-huh."

WORST REALITY SHOW EVER?

"The Swan. Unhappy and unbeautiful women are given happiness and beauty by boob and butt doctors, oral surgeons, copious amounts of plastic and collagen, and a 'counselor' that convinces them of their new state of bestowed worth. Great song material, though."

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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