Follow this string of logic.
Former presidential candidate Al Gore attended Harvard University where he famously roomed with actor Tommy Lee Jones, earned his undergraduate degree and yadda, yadda, yadda invented the Internet.
Jocelyn Ardnt and her brother Chris — who also goes by “Jocelyn Arndt” when the musicians perform together — also attend Harvard. They gathered up a band in high school and named themselves The Dependents. (CPAs chuckle. Tax humor) Once they posted a few of their performances online were they discovered and signed by none other than Al Gore. Within an eight-month span, the duo dropped their first EP and performed at the same venue as Robert Plant. Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant. So, now they’re thinking about postponing their studies, and their parents support that.
Ridiculous claim? Yes.
Al Gore did not discover Jocelyn Ardnt. Nor did he invent the Internet.
#But, the rest is true.
“Yeah, I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that we played at the same music festival as Robert Plant,” said Chris. The novelty of the experience was two-fold for the guitarist. He never attended a music festival as a spectator. As musicians on the bill, the two had on-stage credentials, leaving them with unique access to say one, legendary frontman.
#“But, then the stage manager was like, ‘Alright, we’re going to have to ask you guys to move for a little bit because Robert Plant is coming out,’” said Jocelyn. “It’s pretty crazy to go from playing in our living room to playing at Mountain Jam and having an album out,” said Jocelyn. “It’s been a pretty crazy ride so far.”
The ride started in earnest roughly three years ago. The two were still attending high school from their home town of Fort Plain, just west of Amsterdam, when they landed a gig at the Fond Fair. Also on the bill was country artist Chelsea Cavanaugh. As Chris recalls the story, Cavanaugh was the catalyst to their music career.
David Bourgeois is president and creative director of Bridge Road Entertainment. He and his wife Anna also own White Lake Music & Post recording studios on Vly Road in Albany. It was David, and not Gore, who discovered the two siblings. In a 2014 interview with NipperTown, David shared his first impression.
“I discovered Jocelyn Arndt and her brother working in a beer tent at the Fonda fair, and she was simply, well, nothing short of breathtaking,” he said. “Jocelyn was going into her senior year, and we had our high school band … At the fair, David had an artist he was working with named Chelsea Cavanaugh. The way David tells the story, he and Chelsea’s father were looking at the bill and saw that Chelsea was going to open with [us] … He looked The Dependents up on the website, and listened to one of the songs we had on there. David called up his wife and said, ‘Anna, we’re going to the Fonda Fair.’”
Flash forward to October 2014, Jocelyn Ardnt – the band – has dropped a seven-song EP titled “Stranger in Fairyland,” and eclectic array of blues and rock, with Chris at guitar and Jocelyn belting booming vocals from behind the piano, as they have since they were roughly eight years old. Original music, with their own lyrics. Jocelyn, the wordsmith in the group, is studying English at Harvard, while Chris is still undecided on a major. “Yeah, I’m still unsure,” said Chris. “I generally try to procrastinate and work on just playing guitar. … You’d be surprised to see how many people who procrastinate there [at Harvard].”
Procrastination may not be the right word for it. Jocelyn said being an English major helps with her lyrics. Chris, as he mentioned, works on his guitar. When not in Boston, the two can often be found in their family living room. Jocelyn calls it their “music laboratory,” complete with her piano, several guitars, and a large CD collection. Their parents introduced them to music. First, it was the records and CDs. When Jocelyn was nine, she received the piano. Chris protested out of jealousy, he said. He’s a year and a half younger than his sister. He asked for a piano too. He was handed a beginner’s guitar instead. After a few months of guitar lessons, he upgraded to a better guitar. Chris has continued to upgrade.
Music is their passion. Whether it’s playing, writing or listening, they immerse themselves in their craft. When their peers take to YouTube to watch Equals Three or Buzz Lightyear, they are watching videos Grace Potter or Stevie Ray Vaughn and taking notes.
Their parents are both educators. Libby teaches first grade, and Ted teaches special ed. Neither played instruments, unless you count Libby’s stint singing in choirs. But, they each had a love for music and passed that along to their kids.
“We got pretty lucky in the parent lottery, because they’re great,” said Jocelyn. “Yeah, they are teachers, and of course grades are always very important to us, but they also encourage us to do what makes us happy. As long as you are going to do something, do it to the best of your ability was always their shtick. It turned out that [for us] it happened to be music.”
As the Fall semester looms overhead, Jocelyn Arndt is currently in studio recording their second album and have taken up temporary residence at The Falcon in Marlboro, where they are playing over the next few Mondays. Now, the younger Arndts are juggling with the decision of putting their education on hold.
“We love school,” said Jocelyn. “Music is just starting to work a little bit for us. We’re pretty focused on seeing how much we can get out of our music right now. We’re going to juggle both. We eventually might take a break from school.” Taking a hiatus from their school studies is a possibility the two had not committed towards as if this interview. The university allows for it, and each said their parents support the decision. “Harvard will always be there. And, they actually encourage their students to go out and do things and then come back and finish. We’re planning on, probably, doing that.
Obviously music is our primary passion. That’s what we do when we have a choice to do anything else,” said Jocelyn.