“Lil’ Mama Band”:
Heather Hardy, violin,
Alvin Blaine, guitar
Larry Lee Lerma, bass
Dani Ponce, drums
Tuesday, September 17, 2019, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm,
Violinist Heather Hardy was given the nickname “Lil’ Mama” by legendary bluesman Sam Taylor, who profoundly influenced her journey as an artist and human being when she joined his band after moving to Tucson in 1990, playing first as a featured violin soloist, and soon becoming a vocalist as well. Her smooth violin playing and soulful blues solos helped the band win the 1995 Arizona Blues Showdown. By 1996, Heather had formed her own “Lil’ Mama Band.”
Hardy had begun serious musical pursuits at an early age, studying piano at age six and violin at age nine. She was accepted as a double piano/violin major at the Manhattan School of Music, but was required to choose one instrument. Beginning as a piano major, she switched to violin, but eventually began busking in the NYC subways to make money while collaborating with different blues and rock musicians. This was the turning point at which she began to explore improvisation on the violin, and her unique style emerged. She played regularly for Allen Ginsberg readings, and recorded with a number of New York bands.
Tucson currently remains her home base where she can be found performing with many top musicians from the Tucson music scene, including her own “Lil’ Mama Band,” but she continues to maintain a steady performance schedule in the NYC area for about three months each year.
In 2003 Heather performed throughout California, participating in the Amity Foundation’s Prison Projects. She continues to work with the Amity Foundation to bring music to prisons and their therapeutic communities throughout Arizona, New Mexico and California.
Written by Leslie Nitzberg, Academy Village Volunteer