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Junior Goes Home To Wife, Baby and Rock Band

Student Profile

By R. ALAN Leo

Most Harvard students consider their lives full--if not bursting--if they find time for classes, extracurriculars and maybe a social life.

But Jonathan W. "Jonno" Deily-Swearingen '95-'98 goes beyond the typical college experience by adding a wife, infant daughter and music career.

When he entered Harvard in 1995, Jonno knew what he wanted to study: music.

Jonno already had 15 years of classical training on the piano, and played the drums, guitar and bass.

During high school, he lived "about five minutes from the Quad" and had played in the orchestra for the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert and Sullivan Players.

But Jonno was dissatisfied with Harvard's music program, which was too classical-oriented for a rock-and-roller.

"At that point I went to my theory professor--who thankfully is no longer at the University--and tried to discuss with him that I was having a lot of trouble getting up every day and justifying what the pay-off was to my own art," he says. "And I believe his exact words were 'Some people believe they can be musicians, but they can't.'

"I didn't need to take that from him," says Jonno, who decided to take time off shortly after the incident.

After living at home for a brief period, Jonno moved in with his brother, Benjamin R. Deily '91-'94. Jonno and Ben created a group called the Pods, and Ben, who founded The Lemonheads in 1986, used his connections with the older group to promote the new one.

In 1994 Jonno moved in with his high school sweetheart, Susan Swearingen, who was studying performing arts in New York.

1995 was a pivotal year for the couple. Jonno's brother moved to California, and the Pods, which had not attracted a major label, broke up.

Jonno and Susan got engaged in 1994, and the couple married in June of 1995. They adopted each other's surnames, and that fall Susan Deily-Swearingen transferred to Brandeis.

Jonno returned to Harvard last Spring. Upon his return, he discovered that he had more in common with many of his teaching fellows than with his classmates.

After a brief experiment with Computer Science--"CS-50 seems to be the computer course from hell"--Jonno returned to the music department.

Over the past year, Jonno also founded a new rock band, Duck Season Fire, with musicians from outside Harvard.

Duck debuted last month at Mama Kin, a major Lansdowne Street club. But the timing of the show was less than auspicious, since it conflicted with the Superbowl.

Three's Company

Over the most recent winter break, Jonno's life changed again, with the birth of his daughter, Emma.

"She's wonderful. She's perfect....Every parent thinks their child is the most beautiful and wonderful child that ever was, but we know for real," Jonno says.

Jonno says his family gives him support and perspective far beyond ordinary student life.

The Deily-Swearingen family lives in Malden, about 45 minutes from campus by bicycle, Jonno's fair-weather mode of transportation.

"Commuting is less than ideal; having a baby at home is not conducive to studying, but it's not as bad as it would seem, and the rewards far outweight the difficulties," he says.

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