Role Models: Amy Speace on Jack Hardy

When I met Jack Hardy, he wore a purple pirate hat, held a half-drunk bottle of whiskey, sang cowboy ballads and romantic epics in a coyote tenor, the wink of a young devil in old eyes watching the hummingbirds as the Texas sun sank into the fields. Truth be told, I hardly knew him. Funny how teachers can sneak into our lives sideways. But that was Jack, a slanted trickster, famous to a few, influential to many more than he knew. Jack Hardy was a songwriter’s songwriter, one of the definers of the Fast Folk era in New York City. He was born on November 23, 1947 in South Bend, Indiana and moved to Greenwich Village in 1974. He was literary. He was poetic. He founded Fast Folk Music, a loosely gathered crowd of like-minded folkies in NYC with a magazine and a venue that generated thousands of recordings of folk and acoustic musicians passing through in the ’80s. In the late ’90s, a friend told me about Jack’s legendary Monday night writer’s gatherings in the West Village. I heard anyone could go, novices like myself, Suzanne Vega might even be there. I was just starting to play out in…

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