Hectic life no match for busy local musician


Jerry Popiel is most at home near a guitar. And the lake. Photo courtesy of artist.

By Nicole Hennessy

Avon Lake – Labor of love takes on a whole new meaning when you throw a day job, wife, house and five kids into the mix, but local musician Jerry Popiel makes it work.

With a new album self-recorded and -produced in his own studio, three active bands and a solid lineup of gigs, Popiel continues to push himself to follow his heart, leaning on Ray LaMontagne and Simon and Garfunkel along the way (a band he’s loved since childhood) and, of course, Avon Lake’s  beautiful lake views.

“I think I let you down again,” his sleepy new single “Winter Wren” starts. His wife, Leslie, paces around the airport in the video, the couple’s 25th wedding anniversary trip to Iceland slowly unfolding as the song weeps. She looks always away from the camera as if she’s not being filmed at all, letting off a self-awareness and natural presence that would be lost if she’d further attempted acting.

Writing about love and family is something Popiel says he can’t help but do. “A lot of the time I like to write with at least some basis in reality,” he said. “I think life and art are woven together. At least for me, they’re inseparable.”

Playing primarily folk rock, it’s hard for Popiel to identify a uniquely Rust Belt sound, but the content is another story.

“Post-steel-mill collapse, if you will,” he ventured.

A Sheffield Lake native, Popiel has lived in Avon Lake since 1998. Before settling in town, he headed to the United States Coast Guard Academy, after which he spent 10 years bouncing around from place to place.

Toiling away mostly at night while his family sleeps, he works on his music. His three bands include Osage Orange, which plays originals and folk rock covers; Cat O’ Nines, which plays all originals; and Cowbell Fever, which offers something different with 1970s covers.

He also pursues a solo career as a singer-songwriter.

From Blossom to the House of Blues, Brothers Lounge to the Beachland Ballroom and farmers markets across the region, there are few venues Popiel hasn’t played.

“So that keeps me busy,” he laughed.

Of his forthcoming album, titled “Tuscarawas.” after the southern Ohio county and the relaxed southern feel, Popiel said it mostly touches on the universal themes of penitence and forgiveness.

“It’s just needed more in society,” he said.

“Rather than different factions warring against each other, it’s more about understanding and forgiving and moving on.”

Popiel will be playing at Shaker Square’s North Union Market from 8 a.m. to noon this Saturday, June 17, and at Crocker Park from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, June 20. Both events are free.

Visit japopiel.wixsite.com/music for updates.








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