Jerry Popiel
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Jerry Popiel

Cleveland, Ohio, United States | INDIE

Cleveland, Ohio, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Folk

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"Rust Belt Folk Rock"

Don't know these guys personally, but my guess is that they're into '60s folk-rock. You know, bands like the Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young that could harmonize and wrote lyrics that meant something. At least that's what comes across on this, the Gourds' official full-length debut. From the opening notes of "Irene," a jangly love song from "the guy who lives next door" to "Second Chance," a garage-rock number that recalls the brisk beat of "La Bamba," the disc posits the band as 21st century classic rock... you can't fault the band for putting the emphasis on songwriting and musicianship. Jeff Niesel, Music Editor - Cleveland Free Times


"Jerry Popiel Flying to New Heights"

The Lorain area group called the Birdhouse Gourds has only been playing their original tunes for three years. But tight songwriting and infectious '80s-inspired tunes have brought them a good degree of notice in northeast Ohio, including opening slots for the Beach Boys, Hall & Oates, Michael McDonald and The Fixx, plus being featured on "Crooked River Groove" and "Words and Music" television programs and the "Live from Cleveland" radio show.

Now the group has chronicled all the work of the past into its official debut, "Ohio." The 13 tracks drop hook-laden guitar pop that gives a nod to the numerous late '70s and early '80s acts that filled out the New Wave scene in northeast Ohio, as well as the rest of the nation, with the jangly guitar sound heard in the post-REM era. -- John Patrick Gatta - Lorain Journal


"Ramshackle Rocker"

This local singer-songwriter has a good, raspy voice and a knack for working-class anthems. Album opener "Soul of Steel" is a solid ramshackle rocker. The same goes for the harmonica-driven "Coming or Going" and the ragged "Dare to Be Good," a jangly tune with echoes of Guided by Voices. The title track [Hard Times and Hair Triggers] is infectious and features his strongest vocal performance. - Jeff Niesel, Scene Magazine


"Great Rave-up, Catchy!"

Avon Lake's Birdhouse Gourds play the kind of middle-of-the-road alt-rock that's made acts such as Matchbox Twenty and the Dave Matthews Band platinum sellers. "Stupid Party" is a great rave-up, and "Irene" is as catchy as any Barenaked Ladies tune. -- Jeff Niesel, Music Editor - Cleveland Free Times


"In Tunes"

Make sure you get to the Rock & Soul 2004 concert featuring Hall & Oates, Michael McDonald and Average White Band early on Sunday at Tower City Amphitheater. Lorain area act the Birdhouse Gourds will be performing at 5:30 p.m. on the Cleveland Free Times stage.

The concert will feature its original melodic rock tunes including new songs "Irene" and "One Good Reason." The group's appearance caps three years of creative original music-making and an especially fruitful 2003-04 that included opening for classic rock artists Ambrosia, The Strawbs, Leon Russell and folk artist Susan Werner.

The Band was a semi-finalist in Little Steven's national Underground Garage Midwest regional competition at the Beachland Ballroom, took part in a live one-hour radio performance on WRUW 91.1 FM and appeared at the John Lennon Songwriting Contest tour bus during its Rock and Roll Hall of Fame stop. -- John Patrick Gatta, In Tunes
- Lorain Journal


"In Tunes"

Avon Lake-based band the Birdhouse Gourds will perform an all-acoustic set when it opens for the classic English group the Strawbs at 8 p.m. tonight at the Winchester, 12112 Madison Ave., Lakewood.

Songwriter Jerry Popiel will play acoustic guitar and mandolin with Jake Schneider accompanying him on acoustic fretless bass guitar and percussion. More details on the group are located online at http://www.birdhousegourds.com.

The Birdhouse Gourds' portion of the evening will feature original music including new songs "November's Gone" and "Sweetness Whispers." Several of the groups earlier songs, including "That Girl" and "Second Chance" received airplay during 2003 on Cleveland's WRUW 91.1 FM. -- John Patrick Gatta, In Tunes

- Lorain Journal


"Regional Beat"

The Birdhouse Gourds... play straight-on, unadorned, 1980s-style rock. All 11 songs on Crayon Banjo, the Gourds' first full-length CD, are original, mostly the work of lead singer/guitarist Jerry Popiel. R.E.M., in fact, is the Gourds' strongest influence: Opening cut "That Girl" could have been an outtake from Murmur or Reckoning; Barenaked Ladies, Gin Blossoms, and all other guitar-driven modern-rock acts creep into their sound as well... heavy on melody, with well-intentioned raggedness. -- Steve Byrne

- Scene Magazine


"Jerry Popiel Rocks House of Blues"

Playing onstage at the House of Blues, Cleveland's newest hot-spot, the Birdhouse Gourds wanted to make something perfectly clear to the December 14 audience.

"We're from Cleveland," lead singer and front man Jerry Popiel said to the Tuesday night crowd, drawing a rousing round of applause.

Taking the stage at the House of Blues, the band performs like they are the night's headliner [supporting Sister Hazel], ripping out a dozen songs of what Popiel refers to as "quirky mainstream rock..." The band shows an affinity for mixing up tempos and playing songs with girls' names such as Claire, Irene and Caroline, Caroline.

"Playing at the House of Blues... it was very rewarding... I'd play there again in a heartbeat" [Will] Albrecht said.
The Birdhouse Gourds may be just a step away from the major success they are not necessarily looking for. In fact, the people most startled at the band's success could be... the Birdhouse Gourds. "Yeah, we're pretty surprised about it," Popiel said laughing. -- Lori Switaj, Asst. Editor
- Avon Lake Press


"Avon Lake Singer Releases "Hard Times and Hair Triggers""

Avon Lake singer, songwriter releases “Hard Times and Hair Triggers”

Popiel will perform at Beachland Ballroom



Aug. 13 - Lori E. Switaj
After more than two years, Birdhouse Gourds frontman Jerry Popiel is back with a new solo CD and a few gigs, including a performance at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland.


“Hard Times and Hair Triggers” was four years in the making, but Popiel credits the length to “working around various family commitments and, you know, the day job!”



The “day job” means working as a search and rescue specialist for the Great Lakes region with the Coast Guard in Cleveland. He is also busy helping wife Leslie raise three kids, Caroline (13), William (12) and Sophie (10).



Popiel, a longtime Avon Lake resident, wrote the album’s songs, performed all the instruments and acted as recording engineer.



“The progress was slower than I would have liked,” he said. “I ended up taking two very long breaks from recording--more than two years total. And the final CD ended up being a product of two periods--a more rock feel from a few years back with a more folk/Americana feel recently. You can hear it in the album.”



The songs can be called “rust belt folk rock” with a sound that combines acoustic fold, Americana alt-rock and earthy 1960s-type pop.



The effort has paid off. The CD, which carries 11 songs, has gotten attention locally. Popiel performed Aug. 8 at the North Union Farmers Market and has three upcoming shows, including a performance at the Beachland Ballroom.



“I've had the good luck to play some really fun places, and the upcoming show on Aug. 21 at the Beachland is one of those,” Popiel said. “The folks there are committed to independent music and have been good to me over the past few years. I noticed that the Clumsy Lovers, one of my favorite groups, was coming there and I just had to open for them.”



In addition to the 7 p.m. performance at the Beachland Ballroom, he will be live in-studio at WEOL 930 AM at 8 a.m. on Aug. 18 and will be the concluding performer of the Miller Road Park outdoor series on Aug. 23.



“I also love playing at Miller Road Park,” he said. “It's a beautiful setting and I like to be one of the few performers there that plays original music--all handcrafted in Avon Lake, so to speak. Fellow Avon Laker Chip Madigan will be playing with me there. He's a whiz on the upright bass.”



At the Miller Road Park concert, which runs from 6-8 p.m. Popiel will be handing out CDs, treats from Sweetie Pie Bakery (while supplies last), and ice cold bottled water.



The album’s inspiration for the songs came from a number of places, Popiel said, but in general, getting out on the road “really tended to get my mind working.”



“Trips to the Grand Canyon via parts of old Route 66, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota inspired a lot of the subject matter,” Popiel said. “Often I would get just an idea that I would later fully form at home here in Ohio, but the inspiration was the most special part of the journey.”



Popiel and The Birdhouse Gourds released the album “Ohio” in November 2005 which received significant airplay. His songs were featured on the soundtrack for the documentary “Everyone But You” by independent producer Eric Shively.



“It's really difficult to get commercial radio (the big guys) to play independent music, but some of the more independent-friendly stations have already started playing some of the songs,” Popiel said. “Charlie Saber at WRUW 91.1 FM (Case Western Reserve University) is a fantastic supporter in particular. Les Sekely at WEOL 930 AM (Elyria) has also been a super supporter. Great folks.”



“Hard Times and Hair Triggers” is available through www.cdbaby, www.amazon.com (see link on right side of page) and select regional stores. Singles can be downloaded at www.itunes.com. Popiel can be reached through his web site at www.jerrypopiel.com.

- Avon Lake Ledger


"Avon Lake singer/guitarist branches out to solo career"

By John Benson, The C-T

Birdhouse Gourds singer-guitarist Jerry Popiel is flying the coop, releasing his solo debut "Hard Times and Hair Triggers."

"The Gourds are still around, but I'd say the rest of the band had other commitments and we weren't able to play much, so that's kind of why I just continued on," said Sheffield Lake native and Avon Lake resident Popiel. "We're still intact and will probably still play but I'm moving on in this direction for now."

"This was kind of a long project for me, mainly because I have a day job and was working on a little piece at a time," he said. "So it's really a culmination of four years of writing. I went through about 35 songs during that time, and kind of just kept on tossing stuff out that sounded too trendy. I just kept on looking for things that I thought were special. And that's what I got. I think this album, for nothing else, has some special songs lyrically and it's not run of the mill. It's kind of different and it's not so far off the deep end either. It's still in the wheelhouse of good acoustic folk rock. I'm really proud of it."

The 1988 Brookside High School graduate describes "Hard Times and Hair Triggers" as possessing a rust belt folk vibe. Among his favorites are the early R.E.M.-sounding "Soul of Steel" and the modern folk-esque "Buck Bacon."

"I try to write about things I know, and things I learned about life in other areas," said Popiel, who in the past called Boston and Washington, D.C. home. "I worked search and rescue for the Coast Guard and spent time on the ocean. But after coming back to this area, having lived away for 10 years, I guess I have a new appreciation for the area and it seems like other area bands don't write about the feeling of living here."

"So that's kind of my approach to hit things that I grew up with. I always come back to the rust belt theme and the feeling of growing up here, and also the good side of the area, like the lake. That really does influence what I'm doing."

Music fans interested in hearing some of the new material will have two opportunities over the next week. Popiel has booked a CD release show for Friday at the Beachland Ballroom. He's also scheduled to perform Sunday at the Avon Lake Concert Series.

While Popiel may not have any dreams of stardom -- he's pretty assured his day job will keep him busy -- he still possesses some hope of attracting a larger fan base.

"I'm going to push out in support of this album," Popiel said. "But to call it a tour would be too much. I'll just go about the two- or three-hour range hitting Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Detroit, Michigan and Columbus. So that's my next plan and we'll just see how it goes from there."

Tickets to see Popiel's 7 p.m. Friday show at Beachland Ballroom are $10.

His free gig 6 p.m. Sunday at the Avon Lake Concert Series takes place at Miller Road Park. For more information visit www.jerrypopiel.com - The Chronicle-Telegram


Discography

2009 - "Hard Times and Hair Triggers" LP, BHG Records
2008 - "Pluto's Not a Planet" single
2005 - "Ohio" LP, BHG Records
2004 - "Right, Okay, Here We Go" - Self-released demo
2003 - "Crayon Banjo" - Self-released demo

Radio favorites are "Pluto's Not a Planet," "Soul of Steel," "Buck Bacon" and "That Girl." Biggest seller on Itunes is "Ohio."

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Bio

Cleveland-based artist Jerry Popiel creates a soundscape for fans of upbeat acoustic music with substance – Rust Belt Folk Rock.

As songwriter, singer, guitarist and often backed by his band Birdhouse Gourds, Jerry has supported many familiar artists, including Ohio supporting slots with the Beach Boys, Hall & Oates, Michael McDonald, Sister Hazel, The Fixx, Shawn Mullins, Clumsy Lovers, Ambrosia, Marty Willson Piper (The Church), Leon Russell, The Naked Eyes and The Strawbs, and has played the stages of Lakewood’s The Winchester, Cleveland’s House of Blues, Tower City Amphitheater, Nautica Pavilion and Beachland Ballroom. He has been featured on the Cleveland television programs “Crooked River Groove” and “Words and Music,” and repeat performances on WRUW 91.1 FM’s “Live from Cleveland” radio show. His music is featured on the 2008 documentary “Everyone But You,” by independent producer Eric Shiveley (www.ericshiveley.net). The film won the “Emerging Artist” award at the 2008 Oxford International Film Festival, and also appeared at the Colorado Springs Film Festival. The film also won “Best Soundtrack” award at the Jackson Hole 2008 Film Festivals, lauding Jerry’s songs “Irene,” “One Good Reason” and “That Girl” that appeared on the soundtrack.