[Editor's Note: this article was submitted by Rocky Adcock in August 1999. For various reasons, it was never run. With the passing of Winston Hardy, here is, belated, Rocky's tribute to the master of the Roadmasters.]

The Rock and the Win

By R. Adcock

Consider the simple twist of fate as I take occasion to be presumptuous. Could It be true that Winston Hardy is an honest to God city-to-the-country boy gone evangelical? "Come Into My Kitchen" is gospel-blues with a promise: rain. What we're talking about here is where the choices of life and mere mortality merge into a dream-time-walk-about and time becomes a more urgent moment in reality. So let it rain.

He's thin and gaunt, his hair wild with barely a hint of the red head he was once, the beard is broad, bushy and graying at the ends. He's 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 flourished arpeggio all woven together by stark and definite notation sometimes on, sometimes around and sometimes counterintuitive. But, the note fits the moment even if the crowd doesn't "get it," the band does, hence the moment is not lost and the show goes on…

"Hear ye! Hear ye! To all whom these presents come, greetings: Winston Ridgeway Hardy remains rightfully enthroned in his place as peer, jester, prince and Jack of hearts. All hail the Prince and the Jack! Yes I'm begging indulgence but sometimes I just can't help it. After all, I am still in the band, albeit metaphysically.

Besides, he needs somebody to say something nice and who better than one who knows him so well.

Hardy's world is "gonzo" blues, county, rock, rhythm and roll. His life is destined as much by the muses of his own creativity as by his own free will and accord. The muses are powerful ones. Music is his artistic calling and he has done 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 Hardy's musical preoccupation, and perhaps his true destiny, lies in the making of "political statements." He will forever 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 brother's integrity? As a matter of fact, I am..

Even so, Hardy remains irreverent, egoistically enamored and driven by the sense of "you think we're good now, just you wait, - expletive deleted - er." He is no less manic than the day he was born and every day of his life has been a cause in waiting. Those who know him, from the haves to the have-nots, without exception, declare him honest, forth-right and dependable to a fault. Otherwise, they declare him to be an egomaniac, and insane, a slight exaggeration, but even so a suitable hyperbole. Hardy is "dramatically" crazy. Arrogance has long since been replaced by supreme confidence, and the residual dramatic ego makes him to be one of the really few " personalities" in the business, here and about.

This night, the band, the Roadmasters, a mix of familiar faces and new, seem to be in an exceptionly superb grove. The band could use a fourth regular in the rhythm section and a big sound system with sound man and a regular horn section. I hear that it's all a matter of evolution and natural selection and a smattering of the I ching, and the perfect zen - baptist invocation (muuji-fuuji let's drink, let's smoke, let's gamble), money also helps. And if Hardy's shooting for prominence as a somewhat major figure in his craft, he'd needs to spend some!

Hardy plays guitar, keyboards and sax. Not at the same time however (he would if he could) and sometimes not at all. As guitarist, he has his own unique style. On the boards, he's there and so is the signature, you can't compare a kiwi to a coconut, except that both are good. O', ode to the tolerable parity of art and artist.

It's kind of sad, this band represents what a band wanted to be in the '60s and '70s. The money was great then! Louisville bands were usually larger than most today. Today, in 1999, "the money" remains the same as in 1969. A statistic not to be proud about and one the lowly musician seems disinclined to consider. There is one other characteristic of this band. It's as good a representative of the "Louisville sound" as any other by recollection, which is, simply, loud and "driven." The emergent style of this band was established around Hardy's stylistic penchant based on ancient Native American drum and percussive styles and the sound produced by a Harley-Davidson.

Right now this band has the most unique entertainment cadre around. The show band potential is there, something this town hasn't seen since The Heavyweights. The band serves up an eclectic menu of blues, rock, rhythm and originals, and anything else inspired by the muses of the moment. Band size ranges from nine to fifteen ( horn section, poet, etc. ) and frankly remains "formative," to which Hardy affirms and confesses. Personnel problems still plague the group. Hardy is not easy to work for. But it appears that things are coming together in, more or less, perfect emergence.

It is true, the band is no longer truly "blue." Still, they hold a large repertoire in blues. But the band now moves toward a broader repertoire. However, musical style will conform to the bands interpretation even if radical. Still, this is the best party band in town. If you can afford them. And if you're lucky.