Harlee Case works hard at her craft. Just 21, the Central Point guitar player, singer and songwriter has six full years of steady gigs under her belt. Chase began performing at age15, in a weekly slot for local jazz band Living on Dreams at 4 Daughters Irish Pub in Medford.
After nearly a year at 4 Daughters, Case moved on to Shenanigan's in Medford, where she played once a week for more than two years. After competing in the 2010 Southern Oregon's Got Talent, Case moved to Los Angeles, where she participated in a singers showcase sponsored by the International Modeling & Talent Association. She spent a year in L.A., waiting tables and playing dinner shows — three-hour sets in restaurants with a stage in one corner.
Who: Harlee Case
When: 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays
Where: Havana Republic, 123 W. Main St., Medford
Although Case played steady gigs and picked up a small following, Southern California ultimately was not the right fit for her.
"I felt really uninspired there," Case says. "It feels like there are a million other people trying to do the same thing you are."
The lack of inspiration was the deal-breaker. Case writes a lot of songs — her three-hour shows consist almost entirely of original material. She left the big city and returned home to resume her career as a small-town singer and songwriter on the rise.
Case can be found playing from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays at Havana Republic, 123 W. Main St., Medford, and she has a show set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, at Club 66, 1951 Ashland St., Ashland.
She also has immediate plans to record a follow-up to her 2010 EP, "Dramatic." She hopes to use the album to take her music in a slightly new direction. Almost exclusively a solo performer so far in her career, Case anticipates working with a group of musicians to create the sound she is after.
She's drawn to something she describes as "kind of like folk-pop" — bands such as Of Monsters and Men and Company of Thieves have been on her playlist lately — and has been learning mandolin and piano in her strides to add new perspective to her songwriting.
Continual performing has solidified Case's commanding stage presence. Whether onstage at a big club (such as L.A.'s House of Blues, where she performed in 2010) or in the corner of a busy restaurant's dining room, Case appears completely at ease with herself and her music. She says that she has no problem singing all night, but that stage banter between songs is more of a challenge.
"A lot of times, I'll announce to the crowd 'I'm awkward, and I won't be talking much tonight,' " she says.
It works for Case, adding somehow to the charm of her performance. She has come a long way, at any rate, from her very first gig at 4 Daughters six years ago.
In front of a packed house that included most of her friends and family, Case let out a nervous laugh in between songs that turned into a laughing fit that she was, for a time, unable to control. She regained her composure by doing what she always does: choosing the next song and singing it.