Heart’s singer coming to town

Ann Wilson talks about obstacles women rockers faced.

Ann Wilson is one-half of the sisterly duo that has fronted the classic-rock band Heart, since the 1970s. In the early to mid-2000s, Ann began a side job, a solo career that has so far yielded a full-length album and two EPs.

This weekend she will be making a stop at UC Health Stadium in Florence, Ky., to perform what she described as a hybrid show.

“I’ll be doing my solo songs, some covers that we’ve never done before and three or four Heart songs,” she said.

Which Heart songs? “ ‘Alone,’ ‘Barracuda,’ ‘Crazy on You,’ and ‘What About Love,’ ” she said. “I strip them down to the basics, take a lot of the bombast and affectation out of them. ‘What About Love’ (the way we do it now) is a beautiful blues song. I’m just enjoying them in a more pure way.”

Ann has said repeatedly that she didn’t want to become a nostalgia act, a view that clashed with that of her sister. The current tour is under the moniker, “Ann Wilson of Heart,” which signals that this is a different entity altogether. Ann has said she likes how it changes fan expectations.

“There are no expectations, except whether I can pull it off,” she said. “At a Heart show, fans expect certain songs. If we don’t play ‘Magic Man,’ for instance, they walk away, disgruntled. All veteran bands that have been around for 40 years go through this. For this tour, I get the hardcore fans, or just people curious about what it is. There’s a full video program for every song. It’s a total experience, with hopefully great singing.”

Female-fronted hard-rock bands were unheard of when the Wilson sisters came up in the 1970s. Ann has often reflected on the struggles they faced at the time.

“It was really sexist in ways that wouldn’t be acceptable today,” she said. “Our major obstacle was finding credibility and players. They would see (my sister) Nancy playing guitar and not know what to do with that. So they just watched us for awhile. We kept showing up, and I guess they got used to us. But we really had to fight for it, so it drives me crazy when I see how much apathy there is today, people who don’t remember what the world was like before.”

Last summer there was a widely publicized altercation between Ann’s husband, Dean Wetter, and Nancy’s teen-aged children. As a result, Heart is undergoing an uncertain hiatus.

“(Heart) doesn’t have any plans at the moment,” Ann said. “We are on a walkabout. The solo tour will continue to nearly the end of the year. Then, my husband and I are going to travel and then come back home and just live and do other projects in our studio. That’s as far as I have it.”

Contact this contributing writer at aaronepple@gmail.com.

How to go

What: Ann Wilson of Heart

When: 6 p.m. Friday, May 26

Where: UC Health Stadium, 7950 Freedom Way, Florence, Ky.

Cost: $29-$74

More info: 859-594-4487 or www.florencefreedom.com

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