Waiting for You
'With a sound so lush, phrasing so distinctive, and technique so assured, she's something of a discovery.' -Chicago Tribune The little town of Palmyra, Maine (pop. 1,974) is about as far as you can get from the high-wattage meccas of Hollywood, Nashville and New York. In a place where star sightings are always of the astronomical variety, the idea of a showbiz family seems out of character. But Jess Tardy comes from a long line of bigger-than-life performers shaking up their little part of the world. Her great-grandmother, Muriel Starbird, ran away from home at 16 to become a freewheeling, vaudeville performer. Three generations later her great-granddaughter is poised to break out of Palmyra and make a splash in the music world. Jess Tardy would say that performing is in her blood and watching her command a room of 20 or 2000 with her smooth vocals and vibrant presence, it would be hard to argue otherwise. Jess started singing at local variety shows when she was only four years old. When other little girls were playing with dolls and hosting tea parties, Jess was playing with old guitars and hosting living room concerts. By 16 she had already performed twice at the legendary Montreux Jazz Festival, jammed at the North Sea Jazz Fest, and had been praised for her vocal chops by jazz great Clark Terry. The awards and honors she accumulated as a part of her high school's jazz program whet her appetite for the bright lights in her future. Not content to be just a hometown celebrity, the brainy redhead enrolled at Harvard and quickly became a standout in the Harvard Jazz Band. There, Jess was able to pool her talents with the likes of bop diva Sheila Jordan and bass virtuoso Steve Swallow. During her sophomore year she earned glowing reviews for her fiery rendition of 'Ain't Misbehavin'' at the Chicago Art Institute's tribute to Ella Fitzgerald. Jess went on to explore her own voice, writing and performing her original material in clubs around Boston. She took her inspiration from the musical heroes that she grew up on, Ray Charles, Etta James, Patsy Cline, and of course her own showbiz family back home in Palmyra. Ready to make her mark, the newly minted Harvard grad scraped together her savings and with a little help from her friends she made it into the studio. A week later she emerged with a collection of jazz, blues and country tinged originals, 'Waiting For You'. The album prompted The Boston Globe to compare Jess to such musical luminaries as Bonnie Raitt and Melissa Etheridge. Such comparisons may be inevitable, given the bluesy, breathy quality of Jess' voice, but she prefers to focus on making her own way. She says 'As long as I can spend my days and nights making music, I'll be happy.' Her great-grandmother Muriel would be proud.