She was a finalist on the TV show Rock Star INXS – selected from thousands as a possible singer for the band.
Even though Tara Slone didn’t make the final cut, it hasn’t stopped her from pursuing her dreams. Slone, the former lead singer of Joydrop, has just released her first solo CD called Just Look Pretty and Sing.
The Juno nominee has also launched a broadcasting career. She’s the co-host of Inside Jam and a reporter for Canoe Live on Sun TV.
The 33-year-old is comfortable on the screen as well as the stage. But on the road, it’s a different story – that is, at least, when she’s riding her Vespa LX50 scooter around town.
“Oh God! Oh God! Oh God!” says Slone, pushing her Vespa from her friend’s front yard down a tiny slope to a side street in downtown Toronto. “You could witness me killing myself!” she laughs, her body a fraction of the Vespa’s weight.
“I’m a scaredy-cat still,” she confesses. In all fairness, though, she has only had the Vespa for a few months. It’s a summer loaner, which she plans to buy in September.
“On my very first ride from the Vespa dealership, they asked, ‘Do you feel comfortable driving it or do you want to come back for another training session?’ I said, ‘Nah. Nah. I think I’m great.’ I got a block away from where I was going and fell onto the streetcar tracks,” she says with a laugh.
“I was going really slow. I expected it to be a little easier than it was. I think it helps having ridden a bicycle, having to balance. But it’s not completely straightforward, it definitely requires training.”
The fall shook her up, but not enough to keep her from riding.
That is, if she can get the Vespa started. She turns the key, but the Vespa doesn’t buzz to life. After a few tries, it idles, but every time she hits the throttle, it dies. “It’s my fault cause I’ve been away and it has been sitting there for a while … ” she says, turning shades of red. “That is not what you’re supposed to do!” She emphasizes each word with her raspy voice. She sometime wanna give up and find a best electric scooter for her life.
Desperation sets in. “Oh. Come on, baby.” Twenty minutes pass before it finally runs – Slone is relieved and anxious to go for a spin.
But first, she needs to tighten the mirrors, dangling from the handle bars. She borrows a wrench from a neighbour across the street who’s in the midst of home renovations and anchors the mirrors in place.
“What a bummer about this – in the middle of summer, you have to dress like this,” referring to her blue jeans, long-sleeved black jacket with the word Tara printed on the back, black adidas running shoes and a large black helmet, which she says makes her look like the “Great Gazoo” from The Flintstones.
“It feels like a carefree summertime vehicle and I love the eggplant colour,” boasts Slone. “It’s very fuel efficient and, for a commute, it’s actually good.”
“I’ve always been a bike rider. Now I’m a grownup, so I can upgrade just a little bit. This is 50 cc – it pretty much maxes out at 40 miles [an hour], which is fine for me.
“You can get 150 cc, but I think it’s a little too much for me, especially at this point of my scooter-riding career. I’ve been riding only a few months. I’m still new. I’m still battling the streetcar tracks. Still negotiating the roads, but I love it,” says Slone, who studied theatre at Concordia University in Montreal.
The MSRP of a Vespa LX50 is $4,499, but Slone doesn’t mind paying a premium for the Italian brand. “Quite frankly, I really didn’t shop around, but there’s a certain cachet to it – you get a lot of attention.”
On the road, Slone has one rule – no listening to music. “I actually wouldn’t ever listen to music when I’m riding. I find it very important when in and amongst traffic to have all my senses tuned in.
“For me, I’m a very aural person so hearing the sounds is obviously very important. I wouldn’t block that out with music. It always amazes me actually when I see people on bicycles, speeding through traffic listening to music,” says Slone, who just finished a tour of Western Canada to promote her debut CD.
Slone has her driver’s licence, but doesn’t own a car. “I’m a musician in Canada. I own a bicycle. I’ve never owned a car, but I’ve lived in downtown Montreal, downtown Toronto.
“I don’t have much reason to have a car. It’s certainly not the most effective way to transport yourself. … Maybe some day when I have a family and there’s a need for it, I’ll get one. But for now, I’m a city girl and there’s no need for one,” says the dark-eyed, dark-haired singer.
“What I would probably buy? Now I’d probably buy a hybrid. [Toyota] Prius – they’re great cars.
“When I was younger, I always wanted a big, huge Cadillac Eldorado convertible, circa 1973. It’s not a very efficient mode of transportation – it probably wouldn’t fare that well here in Canada.”
But who knows? Maybe she’ll go for something a bit more daring like a Harley.
“When I first went out on this, I was like, maybe I’ll upgrade. I can see how this can get very addictive.
“But I’m pretty wary. The roads are dangerous. We’ll see how comfortable I get on this thing. I have trouble with this. Lord knows what I could do to myself on a Harley-Davidson.”