Desert Bluesbeat




Desert Bluesbeat / October 1996

Few Tucson-based musicians of any age, any instrument or either gender play and sing with the authority of Heather Hardy, violinist-vocalist with the Sam Taylor Blues Band for the last five years.

Her first CD, Violins, is on the growing Trope label, home of CDs by Taylor and several other Tucson bands (see Bad News Blues Band update, this issue).

Hardy also plays piano and uses mostly Taylor's band on Violins, including Ed Delucia, guitar; Mike Nordberg, bass; Jerome Kimsey, drums; Taylor, guitar and backup vocals; Richard Gomez, organ; and Liz Fletcher, backup vocals.

The 11 tracks are Hardy originals except for four by Taylor. Two tunes, 14th Street and In Memory of... feature multitracked violins.

A Connecticut native, Hardy has risen to the top level of Tucson musicians since she came to town in 1990. She studied three years at New York's Manhattan School of Music beginning in 1983. From there she quickly took the improvisation of rock, Blues and jazz.

"I played a lot in the subways," Hardy says of here big city days. "There are a lot of good musicians down there. I played in rock bands. I played some jazz and some Blues-Blues was mostly with people I met in the subways.

"I just loved the music and got into jamming with people and got a bunch of opportunities. It wasn't a big decision" not to play classical music. "It just kind of happened. Improvisation is where I feel my strength is."

Hardy jokes that she then went to Tucson and disappeared. "I just wanted a break from the city," she says. "Somebody offered me an opportunity to come to Arizona and I took it."

Folks who love her music are glad she did. Tucson is not known as the best town from which to base a music career. But she and her Troupe labelmates are at least taking a shot.

"One of their big pushes is that they're putting together a health insurance package for their artist," Hardy says. "They're in the vanguard as far as that goes."

Hardy is modes about Violins. "It's Blues-based music, not strictly Blues," she says. "The songs are new and old. It's from the heart, and it's the best I have to offer right now."

Her best is of a high caliber; its strength quickly obliterating the notion that Blues violin is somehow weird merely because it's atypical. The CD is available at Hear's Music and Zia Records as well as at her shows.