When Brandon Kirkley was a kid growing up on Rice and Clay streets, in Hamlet, he said he never dreamed of becoming a rock star.
“I was huge into sports and I was a music lover,” said Kirkley.
“He asked for a guitar for Christmas one year when he was young,” said his mother, Teresa. “We told him that was expensive, and he’d have to pay for half of it — which he did. He kept that same guitar until about a year ago.”
Teresa said he used to “play in a band with other kids from Hamlet in our basement.”
“He just sort of picked it up, I don’t know where he gets his talent,” she said. “His dad (Robbie) and I support him all the way and we go to almost every show he plays.”
An active kid, who “liked to entertain,” Kirkley started experimenting with performing his music in the 11th grade when he was a student at Richmond Senior High School.
“I graduated from RSHS in 2003, and moved to attend UNC Charlotte,” he said. “I spent a lot of time playing during college, and started a couple of bands with a friend I met at a talent show.”
Kirkley, now 26, graduated from UNC Charlotte with a bachelor’s in communication studies, and later a master’s in liberal studies. He works for the college as a public communications specialist, but he never gave up on his music.
“I started performing professionally in 2007, with my band “Kirkley,” he said. “We released our first CD in 2008 on minimal funds, and it was recorded in our guitarist’s apartment.”
The band, now renamed “Brandon Kirkley and the Firecrackers,” kept working toward a bigger production, and is now celebrating the recent release of the new album “Years.”
“We’re extremely proud of the album, as well as the production itself,” said Kirkley.
As an indie release, the band is shopping the new album around to various labels and distributors. In the meantime, they’re playing shows at popular rock venues, like Amos’ Southend in Charlotte, and enjoying great reviews and media coverage. Brandon Kirkley and the Firecrackers was also named in the top six in the 106.5 The End “Great Taste Music Speed Street Competition.”
The band credits rock/pop influences from the 70s, 80s and 90s for their inspiration.
“I’d say we’re somewhere between the Goo-Goo Dolls, Tom Petty, Bon Jovi and Matchbox Twenty,” said Kirkley.
The band’s new album “Years” is available at live performances, on the band’s website BKTF.net and online through music distributors like Bandcamp and iTunes.
The group will be performing on May 18 at Hudson Brothers in Rockingham.
“I still keep in touch with my great friends at Hudson Brothers,” said Kirkley.
Kirkley’s visits home are bittersweet, because he’s reminded of a dear friend lost.
“The drummer on our first album was Alex Sherrill,” he said. “He grew up in Ellerbe and also went to college at UNC Charlotte. Alex passed tragically in a car accident in April 2010, but he’s a big part in the history of the band.”
For more information on the group, visit the website BKTF.net, check them out on Facebook, reverbnation.com/bktf or twitter.com/bktf.
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com