Acoustic guitarist, singer, and songwriter Michael Jerling plays an artful mix of blues, traditional and contemporary folk songs, jazz-flavored folk and country-folk. Unlike many other dyed-in-the-wool folkies, Jerling considers blues and early rock & roll to be forms of folk music. Also unlike so many other folk singers, Jerling also admits that the musical approach of a solo singer-songwriter with a guitar bores him. Jerling takes his guitar playing and singing cues from musicians as diverse as Robert Johnson, Hank Williams and Chuck Berry.
Born and raised in Illinois, Jerling began playing music in high school and attended the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire. Like fellow folk singer John Gorka, he helped run a coffeehouse while in college, but then drifted out of school. After he moved from Illinois to New York City, he quickly established himself in the early 1980s folk/coffeehouse scene in Greenwich Village and was part of the "Fast Folk" folk music cooperative. After being part of the "New Voices, New Visions" folk music tour in 1992, he won the "New Folk" songwriting competition at Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas, joining an elite crop of singer-songwriters who have won that award in the past (Nanci Griffith, Shawn Colvin, and Lyle Lovett).
Jerling makes his home in upstate New York. He has two self-produced recordings, Blue Heartland and Top of Fool's Hill, as well as two albums for the Newton, N.J.-based Shanachie Records label, My Evil Twin (1992) and New Suit of Clothes (1994). My Evil Twin, his Shanachie debut, was recorded at many different studios with a range of backing musicians, including Peter Ostroushko, Robin and Linda Williams, and former David Bromberg sideman Peter Ecklund. Both of Jerling's Shanachie releases showcase his exceptional talents as a guitarist and his mastery of a number of indigenous musical forms, including blues. Most recently, Jerling released In Another Life in 1997, for Waterbug Music. ~ Richard Skelly