With degrees from Harvard, siblings Jocelyn and Chris Arndt could be wearing suits, lunching with high-powered clients, working in plush offices and building 401(k)s by now.
“It’s true, we could be doing other things, things that might have been easier to pursue,” Jocelyn Arndt said in a phone call from the studios of White Lake Music & Post, in Albany, N.Y. “But I doubt there are many things out there that make me feel the way performing music does.”
The brother and sister bring their classic rock with a bluesy edge to the Spot on Kirk for a Friday concert.
The siblings Arndt — pronounced “like the contraction, spelled with way too many consonants,” Chris Arndt said — grew up in Fort Plain, northwest of Albany. Their first taste of rock ‘n’ roll glory came in junior high school.
“Chris and I were performing at a local event,” Jocelyn Arndt said. “At the time we didn’t have any original music, and Dave Michaels, who’s an amazing DJ over at [Albany-area public radio outlet] WEXT … came over to us after our set and was like, ‘hey, you guys are really good. Do you have any original stuff? ‘Cause if you had original stuff I would play it on the radio.’”
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The duo wrote and recorded a song, and the DJ made good on his word.
“I remember sitting in the family van in the school parking lot, getting ready to go in … and listening to our song on the radio for the first time,” she said.
It was “a pretty magical moment,” her brother added.
Fast forward to 2021. Their single “Sugar and Spice” made Billboard’s AAA (Adult Alternative Airplay) chart. Jocelyn belts out the vocals while Chris riffs on a Stratocaster. The video begins with the defiantly analog buzz of the Strat’s single-coil pickups.
Classic rock may not seem the fastest path to chart success, but the long-haired Arndts have always charted their own course.
Their mom is an elementary teacher, and their dad teaches special ed. When the parents offered them a choice of a family vacation to Disney or to China, the siblings chose China.
Unlike many rock musicians who drifted through school — John Lennon comes to mind — the Arndts were stellar students. Jocelyn, who turns 27 the day her band hits the Spot on Kirk, was her high school class salutatorian. Chris, 25, was valedictorian of his. They attended Harvard on academic scholarships. Jocelyn, who studied English, writes the act’s lyrics.
The sibling relationship facilitates the creative process, Chris Arndt said. “Because we know each other so well, when we write songs together, it flows very, very easily, because we’re not afraid to throw out something that might be a stupid artistic idea, or tell the other person they have a stupid artistic idea.”
They were immersed in music as kids. Mom is a singer, Dad plays blues harp, and a grandfather is “a really, really great jazz pianist,” Chris said. “Music’s all over the family.”
Led Zeppelin was one early influence. “We were raised on classic rock for sure,” Jocelyn Arndt said. “Rock is not dead yet, if we have anything to say about it.”
The Friday will be their first in Roanoke since a Spot on Kirk appearance in 2016, during the Down by Downtown festival.
Jocelyn, who is hoping for a big turnout on her birthday said: “We play just the two of us when we livestream on Facebook or whatever, but when we’re out in the world, it’s a full band, a full rock show, and it’s gonna be awesome.”