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'Rocket Club' is Starbuck native's musical launch

Rocket Club includes, from left: Brian Kroening, Matt Kirkwold, Don Smithmier and Chris Hawkey. (Submitted photo)

Busting into the music scene is as hard as it gets, and no one has tried harder than Starbuck native Matt Kirkwold.

After graduating from the Minnewaska High School in 1992, Kirkwold headed straight to Minneapolis for music studies and only two years later began working as a music producer.

He's enjoyed some regional success as a producer, most notably for his work with Quietdrive and its first LP release.

But try as he might, Kirkwold the musician couldn't quite break the sound barrier.

Until by chance he met up with a group of musician friends who called themselves Rocket Club, and who now count the Starbuck native as one of them.

Their debut CD "Rocket Club'' has won playing time on K102 and Cities 97 (Clear Channel) in Minneapolis, and the band is attracting crowds at performances across the Twin Cities.

Kirkwold said he and the other members of Rocket Club got along well from the start; share similar likes in music, and well, just naturally enjoy what they're doing.

"So many years trying to make things happen,'' said Kirkwold, "and for the first time, I'm not trying. It's just been fun.''

Rocket Club features three-piece harmonies and songs that tell stories. Promotional materials describe the music as hard to peg, but point to influences ranging from the Eagles to regional bands like the Jayhawks and Semisonic.

"Rocket Club is an assortment of hum-worthy hooks and story-telling-through songwriting,'' is how the CD's promo describes the music.

Kirkwold will let you in on a secret the promotional pieces might not mention. He grew up on a Starbuck dairy farm with a father who loved the music of Alabama and the likes of Willy Nelson and Waylon Jennings.

The farmer's son didn't like any of it one iota, until he left home. Now he believes there might be a little country influence in his own work.

He said Rocket Club's debut CD came out just as he could have wanted. It has the feel of a live performance. It's as if someone happened to have all the right recording equipment in place when the band was giving its most stellar performance ever.

Kirkwold is hoping there will be many more to follow. The band performs at a variety of clubs in the metropolitan area, but its favorite locale is Java Jacks at 818 West 46th Street, Minneapolis. The band will open for the BoDeans on June 28 at the Minnesota Zoo outdoor amphitheatre, and other summer bookings include the Basilica Block Party and two performances at the State Fair.

Learn more about the band, their schedule and download tunes at their Web site: