Ann Wilson is moving in a new direction
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer is best known for her work alongside guitar-playing sister Nancy in the classic rock outfit Heart. And Ann’s current tour, billed as Ann Wilson of Heart, makes no bones about that. But Wilson’s non-Heart endeavors — which have included two EPs and a live album in the last two years from her band The Ann Wilson Thing allow her to take her voice out of the hard rock world and into the realm of blues, soul and roots rock.
“It’s a huge deal. Nothing against the old bombastic thing from Heart, but it’s like an evolution for me,” Wilson said. “It’s really, at my age now 66, a lot more possible to connect with stuff that has more depth and dynamics to it and less expectations to sort of regurgitate the old stuff.
“It’s very exciting for me, and I’m thrilled that people are showing that they want to hear that. The shows we did with the Ann Wilson Thing last year were small shows, but they were almost like gospel events or something where people would react and sort of talk back. It was a real unified bridge with the audience.”
Wilson’s tour brings her to the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown on March 25, followed by performances April 4 at the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood and April 6 at the Keswick Theatre in the Philadelphia suburb of Glenside, Pennsylvania. Wilson will be joined for the tour by former Heart drummer Denny Fongheiser as well as two members of the Ann Wilson Thing, guitarist Craig Bartock and bassist Andy Stoller.
There’s also one classic rock song from the Ann Wilson Thing repertoire that is making its way into Wilson’s current shows: Stephen Stills’ ever-topical 1966 Buffalo Springfield protest anthem, “For What It’s Worth.”
“Oh God, has (that song) ever come around again,” Wilson said. “It’s going to be interesting to see what it’s like to go out there and be among people now after this election and its result and all of that. “There’s a lot of upheaval and controversy in the country now. There’s unrest, and it’ll be really interesting to play some of those songs now and see what the audience’s reaction is.”
Divisive, turbulent times like these place both audiences and performers like Wilson in an interesting position.
“There’s so much that people really are coming to understand now and have a dialogue about,” Wilson said. “Who made this all happen? Well, of course, it was us. So now here we are, the rock has been turned over and we find that everything really isn’t so cool and P.C. There still are sort of half the people who feel a whole lot differently than you do, so it is an interesting time.
“It’s a time for real, national introspection. The Women’s March was an amazing day for people to really get out and put their bodies on the line and their selves where their mouths are. I don’t know what’ll come of it. I hope that it will show the country what’s what and that we’re very split down the middle.”
Ann Wilson of Heart is one of several Rock and Roll Hall of Fame artists performing in New Jersey this spring.