MorningBird Short bio
MorningBird is singer-songwriter Rob Wheeler and violinist Jill Burkes, both from the Hibbing area. Burkes started off playing Finnish folk music on the violin when she was a child, and then moved into more classically trained music. Wheeler has played guitar since he was a teenager, beginning with heavy metal riffs, but he expanded into old country music and eventually all genres. The two harmonize together on classic folk covers and originals. Last year they recorded the EP Cosmic Escape at Birch Bay Studios with Christopher David Hanson. This summer they are embarking on a new project with St. Cloud musician Charlie Roth in which they will be his backup band, the Range Wheelers.
MorningBird Photos by AppleTree photography 2022
Cosmic escape ep
MorningBird released their first EP on May 1, 2021
MorningBird -- consisting of Rob Wheeler and Jill Burkes -- is an experienced live band whose affection toward music and one another captivates audiences across Minnesota.
The duo is now scheduling live shows for the summer of 2021. Their set lists include classics like "One More Cup of Coffee" by Bob Dylan, John Prine's "In Spite of Ourselves," Jerry Jeff Walker's "Gypsy Songman," and "I'm on Fire" by Bruce Springsteen. They recently finished their debut album and may throw in original songs including "Cosmic Escape" and “This Moment.”
Rob and Jill met on a stage in the North Country in 2017 where they played a Grateful Dead rendition of “Friend of the Devil.” Shortly after, they drove their ‘79 Chevy van into the sunset along the scenic byways of rural America, playing in Montana and California joints, before returning home to the deep woods near the Boundary Waters. They soon formed MorningBird and continued to perform at cafes and bars along the North Shore of Lake Superior and on the Iron Range. They have since cultivated a following enamored with their own organic style and their message of love.
A native of Hibbing, Minn., Jill was 8 years old when she began learning the Susuki violin method and performing Finnish folk music across the globe. She enjoys weaving her heritage and gypsy vibe to play live shows with musicians in the region, whether playing violin, guitar, or singing vocals. She joined the band Big Waves and Bonfires, an Americana group from Virginia, Minn. in 2017, and performed on their album, "Belly of A Whale." She also collaborated with Christopher David Hanson for his album, "In the Distance," in 2019, as well as Karl Sundquist’s solo album, "Goodnight Sun," in 2020.
After spending his youth moving around Minnesota, Rob, an accomplished performer who plays harmonica and guitar, joined bands Gypsy Prophets and Hobo Revival before planting some roots down in Hibbing. In 2008, he went on to start the band The Wheeler Dealer and recorded "Side of the Road," delivering his fans 13 original tracks of stories from his travels, heartaches, and triumphs.
Together, Rob and Jill have formed the acoustic duo, MorningBird. They have recently released their first EP, a five song disc titled Cosmic Escape which is already getting rave reviews.