Erin Harkes is embracing change.
The Albany singer-songwriter has spent the past 10 years building a reputation as one of the area’s leading blues-rock artists, alongside her band The Rebound. During that time, she has released two live albums and three studio recordings and has played across the Northeast, appearing at big local events such as LarkFEST and most recently Alive at Five, opening for 10,000 Maniacs this summer.
In April of last year, she even made a national mark (albeit briefly) appearing on an episode of “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” in a musical competition. “It was definitely a 15 minutes of fame kind of thing — though, you know, my pipe dream is that, [I gave] props to Albany, and [they’ll] let me back on the show someday,” Harkes said of the experience.
But she admitted that “it was just kind of like a hobby up until a couple of years ago” — although it might not seem that way given these accomplishments.
The changes in her approach now are subtle, but significant — The Rebound is now simply The Erin Harkes Band, although lead guitarist Blaze and drummer Matthew McQuilkin (Harkes’ brother) have been with the group almost since the beginning.
Three shows with Erin Harkes
Erin Harkes and Blaze
When: 9 p.m. Friday
Where: Gaffney’s, 16 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs
How Much: Free
More Info: 587-7359, www.gaffneysrestaurant.com
The Erin Harkes Band at Indie Fest
With: Miché Fambro, The Sandy McKnight Fiasco, The Rob Skane 3, White Noise Radio, Betsi Krisniski, Museum Guards, Sound Economy
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Swyer Theatre at The Egg, Empire State Plaza, Albany
How Much: $15
More Info: 473-1845, www.theegg.org
The Erin Harkes Band
When: 9:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Graney’s Stout, 904 Broadway, Albany
How Much: $3
More Info: 427-8688
“It’s easier if it’s just me and whoever is supporting me musically,” Harkes said of the name change, while at a coffee shop in Albany. “I got my first band together by absorbing people that had been in other bands, so they were like, on the rebound — ha-ha. After a year, I already started to resent the name, but I just didn’t really get the nerve to change it, or maybe I got a little lazy.”
Her music itself will be changing as well. This summer, she released the four-song EP “Post Haste,” a record steeped in her growling blues howl, but it’s only a prelude to her next full-length. She’s planning to work with Joshua “Mirk” Mirsky, leader of the local rock/hip-hop band Mirk — and is looking to incorporate some new sounds.
“I definitely want to shake it up a little bit,” she said. “Everything that I’ve done, it’s been — not safe, but it’s just been very straightforward rock music, and I want to add different elements to it. I have a million ideas, and it’s nice to have somebody to bounce [them off].”
Even with all this going on, the shows never slow down for Harkes and the band — also featuring bassist Josh “J.R.” Radigan, who joined about two months ago.
This weekend will be particularly busy, with Harkes and Blaze teaming up for a duo show at Gaffney’s on Friday night. Then on Saturday, the band plays the second annual Capital Area Indie Fest at The Egg, along with Miché Fambro, The Sandy McKnight Fiasco, The Rob Skane 3, White Noise Radio, Betsi Krisniski, Museum Guards and Sound Economy. The show is a benefit for The Egg and organizers Columbia Arts Team.
This will be Harkes’ first appearance at The Egg. “I’ve seen a lot of shows there, and every time I look up, I’m like, ‘I want to be on that stage so bad,’ ” she said.
And if that weren’t enough, the band will be playing at Graney’s Stout in Albany immediately following Indie Fest — an “unofficial after party” according to Harkes.
Even with the large number of high-profile local shows, Harkes is looking to branch out. The day she spoke with the Gazette, the band was getting ready to play in Oneonta later that night. More out-of-town shows can be expected once the new album is finished.
“I’m trying to get out because I want to play as much as I’m playing right now, but I don’t want to spread myself too thin over the Capital Region,” she said. “So, I have guitar, will travel, as long as the band is willing.”
It might be a while before that happens. Harkes is used to recording quickly — her titles, such as 2003’s “Rough” and “Post Haste,” which was rushed to coincide with the band’s Alive at Five performance, poke fun at this.
“I’m not good at planning things — I decide that I want to do something, and then I drive everybody around me crazy until I get it done,” she said.
Looking for a push
She’s trying to take her time, this time. She’s in the midst of Kickstarter project to raise money toward recording, and she’s hoping that Mirk, who also helped mix and master “Post Haste,” will push her in the studio.
“He knows that I need to be pushed, and that I want to be pushed, because I get complacent,” she said. “I’ll say, ‘Oh, OK, that was good enough.’ I need somebody to say, ‘No, that wasn’t; you can sing that better. Get back in there and do it again.’ ”
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Categories: Life and Arts