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In Music

Introducing Crossfire: Milwaukee’s country rock jukebox


Polished three-part harmonies may not be a priority for most local acts, but Milwaukee's Crossfire is not your average garage band. The band plays a great mix of cover tunes, from Johnny Cash to Creedence Clearwater Revival to Lynyrd Skynyrd.

With roots firmly entrenched in country rock, Crossfire puts a premium on background vocals. Guitarists Rick Fredrick and Gary Koehler -- along with bassist Mick Kornowski -- erect a wall of vocals not unlike The Doobie Brothers or The Eagles.

Crossfire is a slick and professional band, which isn't surprising since each member has been playing gigs since the late '60s.

"I started Crossfire in 1998 with a couple of younger guys," says Fredrick. "It progressed from there, and this is really the third version of the band."

According to Fredrick, Crossfire ventured down to Nashville two years ago to showcase the younger talent in the band. It was during this time that Fredrick, Koehler and Kornowski honed their singing style.

"At that point, we established a pretty good relationship between the three of us, with the background vocals," says Fredrick.

After returning to Milwaukee, the guys continued to work on their craft.

"It took a while to get all the pieces together," says Koehler. "We didn't want to rush it, and we took our time with the material."

One important piece was still missing -- Crossfire needed a drummer. After a chance meeting, they found the guy for the job.

"They dragged me out of a bar!" says Mike O'Krongly, Crossfire's hard-hitting skins man.

"I went into this little bar by my house called the Stumble Inn," says Kornowski. "And Mike was there. Mike and I have known each other from playing in bands since the '70s."

With their human metronome in place, Crossfire began rehearsing for shows in earnest. The time spent working out the kinks made the transition easy for O'Krongly and the rest of the band.

"When I got there, these guys had everything together," O'Krongly says. "They had the songs. It was just a matter of working in some fumbling rock and roll drummer."

These days, the gigs are plentiful, with Crossfire playing around the state. The band plays the Country Thunder festival in July, Summerfest July 4 at noon at the Briggs and Stratton stage, and rocks the Wisconsin State Fair for nine nights in August.

Will this success lead to some original songs from Crossfire?

"At this point, we want to have fun in the summer time and please everybody," says Koehler. "But we will slip originals in with little fanfare, to see how people like them."

Crossfire plays June 10 at Lions Days in Thiensville. The set begins at 3:30 p.m. Crossfire's Web site is crossfirecountry.com.

Talkbacks

OMCreader | June 12, 2006 at 8:29 a.m. (report)

Chris said: Oh, I get it, Funki. It's not diverse and sophistimacated like, you know, house, acid, ambient, or hip-hop.

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OMCreader | June 11, 2006 at 3:18 p.m. (report)

Professor said: Yes Funki,Cash is Country rock,CCR is Classic rock & Skynard is Southern rock

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OMCreader | June 9, 2006 at 3:51 p.m. (report)

Funki said: Is from Johnny Cash to CCR to Lynrd Skynrd really a range of music?

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