Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Heart Guitarist Nancy Wilson Discusses Band's Career and New Album

Heart guitarist Nancy Wilson says a willingness to adapt is necessary for any band.

"It's a matter of survival to reinvent yourself," Wilson says during a recent phone interview.

"You have to double-check your relationship with your music," Wilson says of the band's ability to sustain success over multiple decades. "The thing that made you a star, that passion, needs to be atop your list of priorities."

On Tuesday, Wilson will bring her band to Bethlehem for a headlining performance on the RiverPlace main stage.

While the 1970s saw Nancy and her sister, Ann Wilson, create classic rock staples such as "Crazy On You" and "Magic Man," the band had continued commercial success in the '80s with the songs "These Dreams" and "Alone."

Now, 34 years after their first album, "Dreamboat Annie," debuted, Heart will be releasing one of their most vibrant albums of the past 20 years, "Red Velvet Car." The album will be released Aug. 31.

"It's a bit of old school and a bit of new school," Wilson says of "Velvet." "It was recorded live, giving everyone a chance to feed off each other, keep things fresh."

Musikfest concert-goers will get a chance to hear some of that new material as their tour set lists feature some of the new songs. Wilson says that during recent tour stops, they have been astonished by crowd reaction to the new songs.

"People were digging it," Wilson says.

Wilson added that the show will have a bigger set production than in previous years. "It will be a lovely experience," Wilson says.

Some of those in attendance will be younger audience members who have been exposed to the music of Heart through such movies as "Charlie's Angels" or through the video game "Guitar Hero," which has featured "Barracuda" and "Crazy On You" on various editions.

"'Guitar Hero' is a case of unbelievable luck," Wilson admits. "The fact that technology can bring the music of Heart and The Beatles into our living rooms, I think it's fantastic."

It has been well-documented that the Wilson sisters have been heavily influenced by The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, but Wilson says she continues to be influenced by different music.

Wilson cites Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' recent album, "Mojo," as one of her current favorites.

"'Mojo' is such a great album. (Heartbreakers guitarist) Mike Campbell is one of the best players I always forget to mention on my favorites list. He is doing some astounding work on that one," Wilson says.