|In Memory of Winston Hardy
by: Rocky Adcock
Consider the simple twist of fate as I take occasion to remember and to grieve a loss. Winston Ridgeway Hardy was an honest to God city-to-the-country boy gone evangelical? "Come Into My Kitchen" was gospel-blues with a promise: Rain. What were talking about here is where the choices of life and mere mortality merge into dream-sleep and reality becomes a more urgent moment in time. So "let it rain," he said. And it did.
He had become thin and gaunt, his hair long and wild with barely a hint of the red head he was once, his beard broad, bushy and graying at the ends. He was the man with the sax, eyes hidden behind shades, his body bent like a reed in the wind, coaxing the wetness of his tenor reed, into excited bleats, squeaks, squeals and honks and an occasional flourishing arpeggio woven together by stark and definitive notation, sometimes on, sometimes around, sometimes counterintuitive but it fits the moment. Even if the crowd didnt "get it" the band did: and the show went on. Winston was a bluesmans peer, court jester, Prince and Jack of Hearts, long live the Prince and the Jack.
Winstons world was "gonzo" .blues, county, rock, rhythm and roll. His life, destined as much by the muses of his own creativity as by his own free will and accord. The muses were powerful ones. Music was his artistic calling and he did little else in his life, playing bars and joints around town having attained a precocious attitude long before he became legal. And his decade long sojourn on the West coast pursuing that whimsical muse of rock-and-roll stardom, which some of his friends, eventually attained.
The one exception to Winstons musical preoccupation, and perhaps his true destiny, lay in the art of making of political and social statements. He contend for the cause of freedom, peace, justice and the civil rights of all men to the point of confrontation, his political calling within the body politic, as it were. What? Am I subscribing to this brothers integrity? As a matter of fact, I am.
Even so, Hardy remained irreverent, egoistically enamored and driven by the sense of "you think were good now, just you wait, - expletive deleted - er." He was no less manic than the day he was born and every day of his life was a cause in waiting. Those who knew him, from the haves to the haves not, without exception, declared him to be honest, forthright dependable to a fault. Otherwise, they declared him to be an egomaniac and a little insane, a slight exaggeration, but even so a suitable hyperbole. Hardy was, "dramatically cool" and his arrogance long since replaced by supreme confidence, and the residual dramatic ego made him to be one of the really few " personalities" in the business, here and about.
For Winston, music was a matter of evolution and natural selection and a smattering of the I - ching, and the perfect zen - baptist invocation (muuji-fuuji lets drink, lets smoke, lets rock! O, ode to the tolerable parity of art and artist.
The emergent style of this band was established around his stylistic penchant for sound based on ancient Native American drum and percussive styles and the sound produced by a Harley-Davidson. The result was an eclectic menu of blues, rock, rhythm and originals, and anything else inspired by the muses of the moment coming together in, more or less, perfect emergence.
Sometime before his passing, Win called me over to listen to a cut on Bob Dylans Time Out of Mind. "Listen to this one," he said. "This song is the beginning and end of my destiny. Its not dark yet," he said, "but its gettin there." Let it rain. He was my best friend and I shall miss him very much.
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First Published: 22 Jan 2000 * Last Revised: 31 Jul 2018
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