Jack Hardy passed away on March 11, 2011, after a short battle with cancer. We are all mourning his loss and send our most heartfelt condolences to his family and others close to him.
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Jack Hardy devoted his lengthy career to the art and the craft of songwriting. Shunning the pop world of fame and fortune, he created an alternative universe of songwriters workshops, indie record labels, recorded magazines, all championing the song as an art form. He issued sixteen albums—not counting compilations, tributes, and duos—starting in 1970, on his own Great Divide label. He had eight of his plays produced. He founded and edited The Fast Folk Musical Magazine, which issued 105 compilation recordings of (then) unknown artists over its fifteen years, now residing in the Smithsonian. It helped to shape and spearhead the folk and acoustic revival of the '80s and '90s. He started the country's longest-running weekly songwriters workshop, now in its 34th year, at his Greenwich Village Apartment. In 1997, he was awarded the Kate Wolf Memorial Award, given to "an artist who makes a difference through his music" by the World Folk Music Association.
Jack Hardy's songs run the gambit from Celtic to western/country, from love songs to social commentary, from political to mystical. When pontificating on the bardic tradition (a favorite subject) he loved to point out that the ancient bards had to master three powers: enchantment, invocation, and curse. Hardy certainly mastered all these and more, championing a form of literature that is more at home in the pub than in the classroom. That and his forty-five years of experience performing and traveling makes him a unique and engaging (and thoroughly entertaining) character on stage and off, weaving stories, anecdotes, and songs into a fascinating web.
He toured extensively in Europe: England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, and also in South Africa and Australia as well as almost every one of the United States. Such artists as Dave Van Ronk, Suzanne Vega, The Roches, Lucy Kaplansky, Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangsen, and many more have recorded his songs. He was the least famous artist with both a boxed set and a "tribute" album.
Jack Hardy's latest album was Rye Grass, described as "a collection of songs of social commentary on both the state of humanity and the state of the inner man." It features the harmonies and fiddle playing of two of his daughters, Morgan and Miranda; harmonies, dobro and banjo playing from Red Molly's Abbie Gardner and Laurie MacAllister; as well as the talents of long time bassist Mike Laureanno. Jack Hardy was born in Indiana and grew up in New York, Colorado and Connecticut. He graduated from the University of Hartford where he won the creative writing award, edited the university newspaper for two years, and became the only person in the history of the country to be arrested and convicted of libeling a President of the United States (Nixon), later thrown out on appeal. He said, "It is far more fun being infamous than being famous." His hobbies included the Irish language and winemaking. He was also know to say: "Shut up and sing the song!"