I learned to love music by listening to it obsessively as a kid, she explains, I loved the radio; I would tape my favorite songs by holding my radio speakers up next to the tape recorder. What would come back was a crackling far away version of the songs that I would sing along with over and over again. But it wasnt until I decided to write and record my first album (The Procession, 2008) that I really started learning the art of recording and collaborating with other musicians.
Today, Fierke is a busily ambitious musician, collaborating with a father-son team who make up her trio. Shell be performing in Petoskey at the Crooked Tree Arts Center this Thursday.
Working alongside Fierke are Steve McKinstry and son Dylan McKinstry, musicians who spend their summers on Lake Charlevoix, at a cottage built by the elder McKinstrys grandfather in 1931. With Fierke on vocals and guitar/banjo, the elder McKinstry takes on the Hammond organ, while his son handles guitar, mandolin, mandola, and banjo.
With a lot of extended family and hundreds of friends living in the Petoskey area, we consider this our second home, Steve McKinstry says, Dylan and I have been playing music, in an informal way, around the area for many years, but never before now have we had the chance to present our original music to the Petoskey community. In our collaboration with Meredith Fierke, we have discovered a new and exciting kind of musical expression that we are thrilled to be able to share with our Northern Michigan family and friends.
Based in Minneapolis, the McKinstrys have continued their Up North connections, as well, by performing with the likes of locals Robin Lee Berry and Nathan Bates. With those kinds of introductions, Fierke - new to Northern Michigan - is sure to make some new friends and fans, too.
I knew about Steve and Dylan as musicians when I was growing up, but I am surprised it took me so long to actually start playing music with them, Fierke explains, We are all from Northfield (Minneapolis area), so it was inevitable that we would find each other; we started collaborating about three years ago. The combination of the three of us, my songwriting and voice, Dylans creative genius and technical prowess, and Steves understanding of composition and sound, creates an intricate, edgy, and beautiful soundscape around the songs.
A quirky and unusual mix of sounds, the Meredith Fierke Trios music focuses on Fierkes songwriting, but is otherwise a very collaborative effort.
Even though Merediths songwriting is at the center of the music, the creative work is equally divided between the three of us, Steve McKinstry explains.
Our music has a lot of intention, Dylan McKinstry continues, it is not trying to imitate anything. It is a unique collaboration with a wide variety of influence from the three of us. This helps us, I think, to appeal to a wide variety of listeners. At the core of everything we do is just the simple fact that we love doing this; we are all working together to create songs that are at the same time accessible and engaging. We are all so excited to be working together.
That enthusiasm reportedly carries over into the recording studio, as well; a Meredith Fierke Trio album is currently being recorded in Northfield, Minnesota, with a release date scheduled for September of this year.
The album is being recorded at Salmagundi Studio, Fierke says, it is an old, established studio, owned by Steve (McKinstry), that specializes in recording on tape with vintage audio equipment.
A special note is that the studio owns a large collection of vintage microphones from the 40s, 50s, and 60s that add a spectacular extra-dimensional quality to the sound of the recordings, Steve McKinstry says.
The album has yet to be named, Fierke says, but we definitely have a few solid ideas floating around - its just that none of them has stuck quite yet.
What have stuck are the songs, which are already winning fan acclaim for those whove been fortunate enough to hear them. Many of the new songs, Fierke says, will be played at the trios Crooked Tree Arts Center performance.
The most exciting new song is probably The Sounding, Fierke says, its a song written, strangely enough, about our love of sound.
Fierke will play a high-strung guitar on the tune, with Dylan McKinstry on the mandola and Steve McKinstry on his Hammond; the song is quick-paced, with intricate string work on top of the organs foundation. Its a big sound for just three musicians.
Were always pleased to discover that the three of us can sometimes sound as full and rich as an orchestra, Dylan McKinstry says.
The rest of their songs will be completed over the summer, as the three musicians work to complete tracking and mixing. To follow? More touring, of course - to introduce their songs and sound to ever-bigger audiences.
Weve been working on the album for the better part of two years, Fierke says, and were excited to get out and perform it. We will be having a big CD release in Minneapolis this fall, and hopefully we will be making our way around the country.
The Meredith Fierke Trio will be performing on Thursday, June 23 at the Crooked Tree Arts Center in Petoskey at 8:00 p.m. For tickets ($12) and more info, call CTAC at 231.347.4337.