BIRDHOUSE IN HIS SOUL: Popiel grew up on Cleveland's west side and originally played in the Birdhouse Gourds, a band from Lorain County, during the mid-2000s. With the Gourds, he played 1980s-style rock in the vein of acts such as Barenaked Ladies, Gin Blossoms and R.E.M. Since that band called it a day, he's released one full-length and one EP as a solo artist. Over that time, he's opened for a diverse set of acts, including Leon Russell, the Strawbs, Sister Hazel, the Fixx and Shawn Mullins.
A SINGLES GUY: Earlier this year, Popiel released a series of terrific singles. Last month, he issued the digital single "Fall Asleep," which is currently available on Spotify, Apple Music and iTunes. He describes it as a song "about two people not quite coming to terms with the truth." He also just put out "Michigan Street," which has gotten about 2,000 streams on Spotify, and "When I Was Younger," which is just starting to get some traction. He hopes to put these songs out again on a full-length later this year.
AS IF THE SOLO CAREER WASN'T ENOUGH: Popiel also recently joined the local bands the Chestertons and Vanishing Shores. A mutual friend introduced him to Kevin Bianchi, the "lead guy" for both bands, and the two bonded. "We got introduced, and we did a few things while the bands were recording and helped each other out," says Popiel. "[Bianchi] asked me to join just one of the bands, but it turned into joining both of them." Popiel says co-writing with Bianchi is in the works too.
WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR HIM: "Are You Awake?" Popiel croons at the start of "Fall Asleep," a jangle-y ballad that recalls '90s-era R.E.M. "'Fall Asleep' was written about five years ago, and I figured out the best presentation for it just recently," says Popiel. "I write songs all the time. I wrote 'Michigan Street' about two years ago. And after that, I wrote 'When I Was Younger.' Just this winter, I figured out it sounded better as a slow song. When it comes to songwriting, I don't chase the latest trends. I simply focus on writing good lyrics and melodies."
WHERE YOU CAN HEAR HIM: jerrypopiel.com.
WHERE YOU CAN SEE HIM:Jerry Popiel performs at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 3, at Brothers Lounge.