Simeon Peebler

"The blurbs go here. They assure the reader that the artist and his songs and purpose have been vetted by the right people from the right cultural institutions, committees and sub-committees. If somebody at the Toronto Star felt that the artist "stands among an exalted few in the enduring Canadian song tradition – Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Fred Eaglesmith, Bruce Cockburn..." then maybe you will, too.

The new album promotion goes here. Aside from highlighting the artist's greatest achievement thus far, it should answer basic questions about what well known names thought the project worthy of their time, and what gatekeepers deemed the project worthy of financial support - all in a way that easily assigns the artist to a specific Folk/Roots/Americana/Alt/Indie genre while making it sound as much like Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska as possible.

The artist's bio goes here. The bio is written with an 'aw, shucks' likability that attests to the songwriter's populist stage presence and professional credentials: his "soulful and honest voice," his multiple awards and nominations, a list of outrageously famous names with whom the songwriter has thus far "shared the stage" - and generally reminds us that, in 2016, fame no longer sits on the jury of artistic judgement." -Jon Brooks

As Jon rightly points out, what is the value in blurbs, ill-fitting genres, and third-person cliche?


The classic protest song is something of a lost art. Its legacy lives on in modern folk and Americana, but socially-conscious music about current events has largely become the purview of punk and hip hop in recent decades, at least in the mainstream. But that's not to say the classic protest song is entirely lost, and singer/songwriter Simeon Peebler would thank you to remember it.

Peebler (who pronounces his name "Simon" despite its less-common spelling) may be a late bloomer--he didn't start writing and performing music until he was 38--but his songs show a natural talent for composition, for storytelling, for performing.

"I started playing guitar and writing songs at Old Town School of Folk Music," Peebler says, referring to the venerable Chicago institution dedicated to the celebration of musical tradition. "I have been a video game developer and software developer since moving to Chicago in the early 90s, but didn't start music until 2011." Since opening the proverbial floodgates, Peebler has written about topics as heavy as Nelson Mandela, Trayvon Martin, Philip Seymour Hoffman, the Boston Marathon bombing, Chelsea Manning, drone wars, immigration, slavery and poverty. Having released two albums (2011's sparse Follow The River and 2012's excellent, fully-realized Missing Anchor) and a series of online singles and demos, it's easy to chart the development of his songwriting. His early work is reminiscent of Mark Eitzel or Richard Thompson, his rich baritone croon supported by a simple guitar, spinning mournful stories of melancholy frustration, but as his confidence grows, so does the sound.

Missing Anchor tracks like "Bullet" and "Abraham" are driving, rousing full-band numbers, punctuated with sharp, aggressive acoustic and electric guitars. "Healing Hearts" sees Peebler stretching into the upper ranges of his register, accompanying himself on ukulele. "We all have broken hearts," he cries out at the end of the first chorus, and it's difficult not to agree. "All It Takes" is an intense rocker, pulling from classic and modern influences alike, and the title track is a piano-driven power ballad that eschews the schlock and cheese typically associated with the phrase, showcasing the most vulnerable aspects of his voice. "Do you know how fast we're going?" he asks. "There's a waterfall ahead." As a metaphor for overcoming challenges in our own lives, the song makes a perfect closing to a record full of powerful messages.

Peebler's music has been streamed thousands of times this year alone, thanks to his deft use of social media to interact with fans and followers, and he has been featured on WGN Radio, WLUW 88.7, Chicago Mixtape, and the Chicago Acoustic Underground podcast. He is also an active participant in the Chicago Songwriter Alliance, participates in multiple area songwriting groups, and regularly attends Folk Alliance International regional conferences in a constant push to spread the word and learn more about his craft.

But it's his newest songs that he's most excited about. The album, recorded by John Abbey at Kingsize Sound Labs in Chicago, features instrumentation from Abbey, Gerald Dowd, Scott Stevenson and Dave Nelson, and Peebler feels it is his best material yet. "This project is a big step up from my first two albums--better songs, a bigger production, and a slightly more evolved lead performer in yours truly," he says. Fire and Steam was released in October 2017.

Simeon also enjoys working as a synthesist and composes original music primarily with the eurorack module format. He also creates electronics hardware to generate audio and control voltages for sound creation.

Listen to this interview on WGN Radio from 12/16/15 when Simeon was interviewed on the Nick Digilio Show about Simeon's show at the Hideout and another show at the Empty Bottle (Alex Chilton Birthday Bash):

Simeon has performed his music at the following venues and festivals: The Hideout, Empty Bottle, Chillfest Chicago, Glenwood Avenue Arts Festival, Wicker Park Farmers Market, The Heartland Cafe, Silvie's Lounge, The Elbo Room, Abbey Pub, Act One Pub, Fayette Opera House, Lilly's, Gallery Cabaret, Flat Iron Building, Folk Alliance Midwest Region conference, Cubby Bear Wrigleyville, Lizard's Liquid Lounge, El's Kitchen, Hidden Shamrock, Grafton Pub, Curtiss Hall (Fine Arts Building in Chicago), Tonic Room, Hungry Brain, Transistor Chicago, Phyllis's Musical Inn, Horseshoe, Cubby Bear, Friendly Tap (Berwyn, IL), Windy City Inn, Fuller's Pub, Mother's Original, The Horseshoe, Paragon Studios, Handwritten Recording, LiveWire Lounge, Burn'Em Brewing, Four Fathers Brewing Company, Brew Coffee and Beer House, Hero In Me 2018 (Pedal4Life) and Uncommon Ground.

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