It’s hard to say exactly what Erin Harkes is. She’s a singer/songwriter. She’s a full time musician. She’s also a part time standup comedian. Whatever she is doing she is doing it on stage! Erin’s memories of being ignored as a child have resulted in her being addicted to performing, whether it be in front of thousands of people in a music venue, or singing the National Anthem at the grand opening of a refurbished Walmart. She is a self-proclaimed performance “whore” – meaning she will do anything to perform in front of an audience.
Erin’s musical influence started at a very young age. Hairbrushes became microphones. Stairs became stages. While friends were listening to Debbie Gibson and Tiffany tapes, Erin scoured her mother’s record collection for Fleetwood Mac and Creedence Clearwater Revival. She began writing her own songs at age 19 and has released four albums of original material since then. Her first CD was aptly titled “Bar Napkins and Magic Markers” due to the crude way the lyrics were jotted down during her college years.
Her music comes from triumphs over tragedy. Though sometimes somber there’s always a resounding theme of resilience. The power of her voice and the emotion that comes through her lyrics make you want to sit and listen to every word. Erin’s lyrics tell stories of her life, sung through a big voice that’s often compared to Janis Joplin. Hearing Erin sing is a powerful experience that grabs anyone within earshot.
Erin’s spontaneity and willingness to perform won her a spot on “Battle of the Instant Bands” on the Jimmy Fallon show in April of 2010. Having only 20 minutes to prepare with an impromptu band made up of complete strangers, Erin won over both Jimmy Fallon and the studio audience by naming the band (“Fallon Angels”) and the song (“Free Jimmy”) – the band performed the song with Erin on vocals to an explosive audience response and easily won the contest.
After years of being told she was funny, on and off stage, in 2012 Erin decided to try her hand at standup comedy. Having found great comfort in front of an audience she was able to make this transition smoothly. Unlike playing music in bars and clubs where people may be chatting or not listening, comedy provided the much needed attention that Erin craved. In a very short amount of time she achieved much local success and has since performed nearly every major club in NYC and even Toronto. Listening to Erin’s sometimes self-deprecating humor takes you inside of her mind and opens her up to the listener. Her ‘crazy’ bit reminds every woman of the futility of chasing after the guy who just wasn’t that into her. Erin’s ability to laugh at herself and make others laugh at themselves is a true gift.
In 2013 Erin was able to quit her day job. This is every musician’s dream but in Erin’s case, also provides her with a wealth of comedy material which she goes to regularly. With this freedom, Erin is now extending her touring capabilities beyond the upstate New York area to the East Coast and is always branching out and looking for new places to perform. Erin is happiest when she has a full schedule and is on the road. She is always looking for new venues and making new fans.
Erin is regularly voted Best Singer/Songwriter in the Capital Region by the Times Union Reader’s Poll and the Metroland Weekly. She has been the subject of several cover stories by both of those newspapers. She is definitely a local favorite. Erin has had the privilege to have shared the stage with national acts such as David Allen Coe, Leon Russell, Melissa Ferrick, Eric Burden and recently opened for one of her musical idols, Beth Hart.
Erin likes to say that music is her spouse and comedy is her mistress. She tries to give them equal amounts of love and attention. Whether singing songs or telling jokes, Erin commands attention every time she steps foot on stage. And we all know Erin loves attention!