Music, Stories told

Rockin’ heaven down

When the rock band Heart brings its tour through central Indiana, I’m going to be there. I’ve seen them six times now, more than any other band: in 1987, 1994, 2006, 2007, 2013, and now 2014, in venues large and small. I prefer to see them in smaller venues where they can connect better with the audience, but no matter where I see them I get pretty good seats because I’m a member of their fan club, which lets me buy tickets the day before they’re generally available. Yeah, I’m 47 and still in a rock band’s fan club.

Heart

I sat sixth row center this time, which gave me a decent vantage point to take a few photographs. I zoomed my Canon PowerShot S95 to the max and hoped for the best. None of these will enter the annals of all-time great rock photography, and frankly of the two dozen photos I took these are the only ones that turned out. But they surely satisfy me. I’m especially happy to have them because cameras were strictly verboten during most of my concert-going years. The ubiquity of mobile-phone cameras changed that — it’s probably impossible to police them, and so venues and promoters and bands have given up trying. Everybody around me took pictures that night. Somehow, the music business has not suffered. And just look at the memories I’ve captured!

Heart

If you’re not familiar with Heart, the band is fronted by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, the band’s only remaining founding members. But to most fans, Ann and Nancy are Heart. The band’s first incarnation formed more than 40 years ago. Heart has taken a couple extended breaks where they neither recorded nor toured, but overall these persistent sisters have just kept making their music. Today, Ann is 64 and Nancy is 60.

Heart

Nancy (above) is my favorite sister. Her voice can’t touch Ann’s punch and range, but I love the melodies and lyrics she writes. Over the past ten years or so, she has sung lead more often and I surely enjoy it. I love to sing along regardless of who takes lead vocals. Most of Heart’s music falls in my range and is a joy to sing.

Heart

I got to meet Ann and Nancy in 2006. Their tour brought them to my hometown, South Bend, and the gorgeous Morris Performing Arts Center. The fan club used to arrange meet-and-greets for fans, and I and a handful of others were chosen this night. A handler came out and said that our meeting would be very brief, as recently some fans had done upsetting and frightening things at these meet-and-greets. So we would do this in receiving-line style so we wouldn’t overwhelm Ann and Nancy, and we had to quietly wait our turn or we would be escorted out, period.

When Ann and Nancy came out, flanked by crew, they stayed shoulder to shoulder with each other and looked to make sure they were surrounded by people they knew. When my turn came, there was some confusion as the opening act came to meet Ann and Nancy too. I was standing in front of Ann, but she didn’t know whether to look at me or the opening act. I was confused, too, and before I was sure whose turn it really was I told her how much pleasure her music had brought me. She kept bobbing her head trying to figure out where to look. Shortly it registered what I had said, and she said with surprise in a throaty voice, “Thank you. Thank you very much.”

Ann then looked to the person in line behind me, so I took the hint and moved over in front of Nancy. I wasn’t sure what to say now, given that things had been so confused with Ann, so I just tried to catch her eyes. She finally noticed and looked at me. Her eyes were as blue as a spring sky, startling and lovely — but her pupils were the size of sharp pencil points. Those tiny dots fairly roared that there would be no friendly chitchat. I mumbled that it was a pleasure to meet her, and then stepped toward the handler and waited until everybody had their turn.

MeAndHeart

Disappointing. But I’m sure the public can be scary sometimes when you’re well known. After the whole group got their opportunity, the handler arranged us around Ann and Nancy for a photo. They look a lot more relaxed here than I remember when standing right in front of them! Maybe one day the fan club will give me another chance to meet them, on a night when they’re more willing to interact.


I counted all the concerts I’ve been to a couple years ago. See the whole list.

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11 thoughts on “Rockin’ heaven down

  1. bwc1976 says:

    Still looking great! Wish meeting them could have been a less awkward experience. I’ve never met any super famous musicians myself, but the two ladies I’ve met who were on Dr. Phil when I was in the audience were super nice. I’ve also gotten an autograph from Nana Visitor on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine at a convention, and it was decent and I also got to shake her hand.

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  2. Really cool, Jim. Thanks for sharing this. Heart has always been one of my favorites, but I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing them live. These days, I don’t go to concerts in large venues. If they were to come to one of the smaller arenas I would go in a “heart” beat.

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  3. borisgv says:

    I’ve met them twice, both times a little less formal than your encounter. Both times Nancy was very warm, friendly, and chit-chatty while Ann was quiet, less engaged, and less comfortable. I have heard through the grapevine that they detest meet and greets, not because they don’t want to meet the fans, but because of some bad experiences and security issues. Hard to blame them.

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  4. Nancy (Roe) Stewart says:

    Hi Jim. I remember that Tammy went to see Heart many years ago at the Morris and they got to go back stage after the concert. I remember that she had some nice pictures. I liked them then and I still do.

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