Play That Funky Music

Harvard's Musicians Create a Lively Scene on Campus and In Cambridge

It is a Wednesday night at Club Passim, and Jessica T. Tardy '99, a redhead with a voice that is both smoky and smooth as butter, is passing on some practical tips about the music business.

In a couple of hours, she will perform in a student showcase along with singer-songwriters Ashley L. Filip '01 and Noam I. Weinstein '99.

For now, she tells the story of how a girl who is almost always mute in section has become an accomplished vocalist with plans to sing professionally after graduation.

Her basic game plan is simple--sing and sing some more. Tardy tries to take advantage of any opportunity to sing, especially opportunities to sing before an audience.

For example, she sang the national anthem at every Harvard home wrestling game last year. A self-described "gig Crasher," Tardy advises prospective signer to ask if they can sing with the band at parties and to always have a demo tape on hand.


Most of Tardy's Vocal experience has been extracurricular. She attended a summer camp to learn about country music. In her home town of Palmyra, Maine, Tardy frequently attended talent nights - "whether it meant singing Garth Brooks, Whitney Houston or the national anthem."

Despite her extensive experience--she has performed locally at the Cantab Lounge and the House of Blues gospel brunch--Tardy still gets nervous before performance.

"My stomach is starting to get queasy," she announced shortly before her set, and left to warm up. Before every performance she warms up by singing her old standard, the national anthem.

The Harvard students performing at passim tonight are exceptionally talented and exceptionally soulful.

Filip's songs are about the pains of growing up. In one, she adopts the voice of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Awaiting the tornado of adulthood, she sings, "I'm not sure I’ am ready to go."

Weinstein struggles through technical difficulties during his performance. As the sound system crackles obnoxiously, he declares to the audience, "It gets to a certain points and you decide to give it up."

When the problem is finally taken care of, Weinstein proves that he is a veteran performer.

He does a fast-forward rendition of the song's last verse-it is folk-singing on speed that brings the crowd back laughing.

Like Tardy, Filip and Weinstein, many Harvard students seek out opportunities to perform outside of extracurricular organizations, Instead of the traditional a cappella groups and orchestras, they play independently--a task they say Harvard makes difficult compared to other schools. Despite the obstacles, though, these musicians have sought out or created local opportunities to perform.

Andrew C. Eggers '99, and Tyler G. Wood '01, a drummer and keyboardist, accompanied Tardy at Passim. In addition, the two are in a hip-hop group named BSide, which is also composed of Chiqui O. Matthew '00, Scott W. Roy '98-'99 and Benjamin Epstein.

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