Jerry 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 gone the solo route and has opened for a diverse set of acts, including Leon Russell, the Strawbs, Sister Hazel, the Fixx and Shawn Mullins. Popiel had a role in the 2016 Fox Searchlight film A Bigger Splash with Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson and appeared as himself in Eric Shiveley's award-winning documentary Everyone But You.
This week, he’ll release his latest effort, Interstellar Interstate. Popiel, who refers to the album as “a bit of a breakthrough,” thinks of it as his best album yet. It's certainly his most realized effort.
The album kicks off with the hard-rocking title track, a song that features a melodic chorus and a dynamic mid-song guitar solo. A press release describes it as “a no-holds-barred celestial road trip song.”
The album also includes Popiel’s take on Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." This November marks the 45th anniversary of the ship’s sinking on Lake Superior, and Popiel adds “interstellar rock updates” to the tune that he's covered to mark the anniversary.
Written in 1850 by folk icon Stephen Foster, the ballad “I Would Not Die in Springtime,” another album highlight, features soft vocals and acoustic guitars, showing just how easily Popiel can shift musical gears.
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