Band of the Week: Megan Zurkey
Concert PreviewBy Jeff Niesel
Meet the Band: Megan Zurkey (vocals, guitar), Ken Schopf (drums), Zach Catania (guitar), Don T. Day (bass)
An eclectic upbringing: Zurkey started singing at the age of 3. Her dad was a choral director for Avon Lake high school and played the organ at Bay Methodist. "He always had the most amazing sound systems," Zurkey says of her father. "He liked classical music but also the Beatles and the Who and Eric Clapton. I have an eclectic sound because of all the influences. Bruce Springsteen ended up becoming my favorite. I got to meet him when I worked at the Rock Hall and helped out when he toured the Rock Hall in 2011. He's a good guy."
Taking it to church: Zurkey released her first album in 2010 and followed it up with an EP that came out in 2011. For her most recent album, Behind Your Eyes, she holed up in Harkness Chapel on the Case Western Reserve campus. She recorded there in January despite the cold temps. "We had to nail it out quickly," she says. "I worked with the band to get everything up to speed before we went to the chapel, and I worked with the engineer to make sure he was ready. We had to get the place warm and then turn the heat off. By the end of the session, it was freezing, but I had a ball."
Why you should hear her: With 2013's Questions and Answers, she discovered she has an "indie eclectic sound that mixes country and pop." So for Behind Your Eyes, she wanted to "stay true to me. My second release was pretty country and someone wanted me to stick to that, but I can't conform to any specific sound." The song "All My Life" features Zurkey's supple voice and features a groovy mid-song guitar solo. The title track is a somber ballad about a bitter breakup. "Beer with Jesus" isn't as irreverent as its title would imply. It's a folk-y song about questioning life decisions. "The title came up when I was talking to a former co-worker," she says. "I was inspired by our conversation — and you can't force writing — but sometimes things come out that need to be said. I didn't expect it to be a heartfelt ballad." "Where We Are" features tender vocals and acoustic guitar. Her cover of Miranda Lambert's "The Fastest Girl in Town" is a gritty rocker that sounds like the folk equivalent of Joan Jett & the Black Hearts' "Bad Reputation." "It's become a song that we end a lot of shows with," Zurkey explains. "I rock it out because it's so much fun to play. I wanted to make a recording that represents how we play it." It's her first professional recording of a cover song.
Where you can hear her: meganzurkey.com
Where you can see her: Megan Zurkey performs with a full band at 8 p.m. on Friday, May 15, at the Happy Dog on Detroit Avenue, and performs solo at 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 16, at Paper Moon Vineyards in Vermilion.