When Jack Hardy and his band played the Studebaker Family Reunion in 2001, he and the band stayed at our house. I came back from work that Saturday afternoon to a kitchen full of fiddles and song; they were warming up for the evening’s gig. Five years later, he came back with a band that included his bright-glowing daughter, Morgan. I haven’t met his other family, but was so impressed with Morgan. She seemed wise and mature for her years, and full of talent.
Jack Hardy sang and played at my wedding. Jack’s presence filled whatever space he inhabited, no matter the scale and scope. His songs seep into my soul.
My daughter might be his most fervent three-year-old fan. She loves and sings so many of his songs. “The moon is full, it’s just not hungry anymore,” she sings, looking up at the moon. When the recent ice storm truncated our willow tree, she wanted to play Jack’s Willow Song. (She looked out the window, told the tree to listen as we played it inside.) In the mornings when we make oatmeal, first she has to pick up the 1 cup metal measuring cup–it’s her telephone–and call Jack Hardy to tell him to come over and play “Blackberry Pie” or “Sheila” or her recent favorite, “Willie Goggins’ Hat.” My husband and I had been saying we should call him on the actual phone, and let the girl talk to him for real. I wish we hadn’t waited so long.
His ways of knowing and telling about nature and human nature will help form hers. Jack Hardy is part of her landscape and her narrative, and she will never get to hear him play his music in person. I ache when I think about what his children and family are going through. But the hardest thing for me to release at the news of his passing is that Merida won’t be able to hear him play live.
There’s a hole in the world now. True of anyone’s passing, but the gap Jack leaves here is so large, and will echo, as do the strains of his music, through time and space.