I first heard Kyle Feerick play in his dad's basement. I’ve been friends with his little sister since our Catholic grade school days, and she was always talking about her wildly talented older brother, who had a band and played gigs around town.
The thing is, a lot of my friends had guitar-playing older brothers they claimed were bound for fame and fortune – or at the very least a promising career in professional music.
What sets Feerick apart is that he actually went ahead and made it happen.
The lifelong musician played in bands while in high school at Dominican (class of 2001) and during college at Cardinal Stritch, but struck out on his own about a decade ago.
"It was just kind of like, ‘I’m going to do whatever I really want to do now, I’m going to play with as many people as I can and collaborate," he said.
OnMilwaukee.com profiled Feerick in 2010, when he had just released two EPs packaged together, "The Change/The Balance."
"I’m the type of guy where I don’t really like to have a band per se, I like to kind of be a bandleader," he said, "and be able to hire whoever I want for whatever I’m doing, be it a gig or a recording, so this recording I’ve got a lot of great Milwaukee musicians."
Feerick’s latest EP, featuring the single "Just Listen" and the B-side track "I Can’t Say," was produced by Feerick and Sean Williamson and released earlier this month. It marks the beginning of what he plans will be an ongoing collaboration with well-known Milwaukee musicians Sean Williamson (lead guitarist for the Sam Llanas Band), Lodewijk Broekhuizen, Ted Fleming (of We Are Your Father) and Matt Wilson (who tours with Nick Moss & the Flip Tops).
"I’m setting myself up to have my music business where I do weddings and private parties and I hire whoever I want for those gigs – those are a lot of duo/trio kind of stuff – and then when I have an actual ‘Kyle Feerick’ show, I have this band," he said. "The first time we played was with I’m Not a Pilot on Oct. 9, and it was so much fun. It was really cool and unique, and I’m going to stick with this group for a little while."
On Saturday, Nov. 3 Feerick will reunite with the band to perform at the Bad Genie Rock Lounge, 789 N. Jefferson St., at 9:30 p.m. The night will mark the release of the music video for "Just Listen," which was filmed at Front Room Photography by Carl Stevens. The video will feature the stop animation of the album’s cover art, which was created by Feerick’s cousin Jake S. Miller.
"We went to Front Room and we had Jake bring a whole mess of stuff – whatever he could imagine to use," Feerick said. "Carl had a canvas and a stool set up and a big white piece of paper on the floor to catch paint. We put three cameras above and on both sides, and each one took a picture every two seconds. It’s going to look like all the artwork is kind of creating itself."
Fans of Feerick’s music will not be disappointed by his two latest songs. "Just Listen" features a mellow folk-rock lead-in and blends his distinctive vocal style with undertones of country and bluegrass – thanks to Williamson’s deft pedal steel guitar skills.
"Sean played it in a very unorthodox kind of manner, which makes it just sound really unique and cool," said Feerick.
"I Can’t Say" has a jazzier hook and features Aaron Garner of the Static Chicken on saxophone, Jamie Breiwick on the trumpet, Evan Payden of the Delta Routine on bass, Anthony Deutsch on keyboard and trombone player John Simons.
"I only live once," he said. "So I may as well collaborate with as many people as I can."
Visit Feerick’s website to keep up with his busy concert schedule. He will sometimes play up to four times a week – and that’s on top of a full-time job at the family business (Feerick Funeral Home) and being a new dad to Lily, who was born in August to Feerick and his wife Becca.
"She’s a blast," he said of the new baby. "I’m really fortunate because my wife is a pediatric nurse, so babies are totally her thing, and it’s pretty much because of her that I’m able to keep doing all this."
Colleen Jurkiewicz is a Milwaukee native with a degree in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and she loves having a job where she learns something new about the Cream City every day. Her previous incarnations have included stints as a waitress, a barista, a writing tutor, a medical transcriptionist, a freelance journalist, and now this lovely gig at the best online magazine in Milwaukee.