LouFest Interviews: Jon Hardy On The Fest's Potential And The Challenges It Faces

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COURTESY OF JON HARDY
  • Courtesy of Jon Hardy

Jon Hardy & the Public will kick off LouFest tomorrow with its driving rock and roll, moving deftly from wrenching desperation to satisfying resignation, Springsteen's theatrics met with the Walkmen's skepticism. It's good stuff, and St. Louis hasn't heard too much from Hardy and the boys lately. We talked to the front man about what he's been up to, what's next and the challenges and opportunities facing LouFest.

Jon Hardy & the Public plays at noon on Saturday on LouFest's Blue Stage. Kiernan Maletsky: You guys have been quiet for a while - care to give us an update on what's going on with the band?

Jon Hardy: A big part of the reason was we had a couple people out of town for a while. Our drummer was in L.A. for a couple months. Once he got back we started getting ready for LouFest right away and decided we didn't want to do any shows in the meantime.

What's been going on is preparing for that, and the plan is to have a very solid set from that weekend to take on the road. We're working on some shows in Chicago and maybe Nashville. And in addition to that, working on some new material. Which we started in the spring.

Do you think LouFest has changed anything about the St. Louis music community?

What I would say I've noticed is maybe a potential change, not necessarily something that has changed. Which is: Does this bring some outside legitimacy to a place that is, with the exception of historical music, written off by the coasts and a good part of the music industry? And the question being raised, subconsciously, is if this keeps going and is successful and is known as a quality event, is that reputation going to spill over to any of the music scene here?

Kiernan Maletsky: You guys have been quiet for a while - care to give us an update on what's going on with the band?

Jon Hardy: A big part of the reason was we had a couple people out of town for a while. Our drummer was in L.A. for a couple months. Once he got back we started getting ready for LouFest right away and decided we didn't want to do any shows in the meantime.

What's been going on is preparing for that, and the plan is to have a very solid set from that weekend to take on the road. We're working on some shows in Chicago and maybe Nashville. And in addition to that, working on some new material. Which we started in the spring.

Do you think LouFest has changed anything about the St. Louis music community?

What I would say I've noticed is maybe a potential change, not necessarily something that has changed. Which is: Does this bring some outside legitimacy to a place that is, with the exception of historical music, written off by the coasts and a good part of the music industry? And the question being raised, subconsciously, is if this keeps going and is successful and is known as a quality event, is that reputation going to spill over to any of the music scene here?

Do you think that is something that might happen with any event of this magnitude or is it something about LouFest specifically?

I do think it is something that would come up any time anything this big happens. But they've done a great job with the lineup, getting people to think, "Oh yeah, this is a real thing." People are going to pay attention to it. People are going to come from other places.

There are a lot of big question marks beyond music that will have an impact. A big one is money. There are storm clouds in a lot of people's minds.

There's a lot of negativity in a lot of what people are talking about concerning the economy, where the country is heading. And music is a part of that discussion. Even if it's only from the perspective of saying, "This is a leisure event."

Maybe people aren't thinking about that. To me, when you combine the struggles of the music industry with a worsening economy, you start to wonder what it will take to get something like LouFest to survive.

Do you think about this more globablly, as a band?

Definitely. You're already dealing with the fact that people don't spend money on music. That's already there. And yeah, we're just sort of wondering, and reading and hearing from other artists playing outside their own cities, and hearing it's rough. People are not going out the way they were to see music. It compounds the problem of how do you generate income from this so you can keep doing it.

Is that the goal for you?

That's definitely the goal. And while sort of luck and being in the right place at the right time factor in with the arts in general, I still believe that if you are creating something that is excellent and is moving people then they will pay for it and they will support it.

All these other factors can make it a rougher road, but it seems like when you look back, that does hold true.

How are you preparing for LouFest - it's such a different thing from a typical show.

The biggest ting that we're excited about is that there are going to be a lot of people there who haven't heard us before, and we're going to have a chance to show them what we do.

Are you playing the same set at the pre-party?

We're going to change it up a little bit. We're excited about that for a different reason. Off Broadway is one of our favorite places to play. I think that our focus is to look at it as it's being billed. It's a party.

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