It happened almost by chance. If it hadn’t been for a gig in Alaska where they were asked to open for Dwight Yoakam, Heart By Heart may never have been formed.
“Somar (Macek) and I were performing as a duo,” said Steve Fossen, bass player and original member of Heart. “A friend called and said he’d heard about us and he wondered if we could put together a band and do a 45-minute set at a Dwight Yoakum concert in Alaska.
“So I called Mike (Derosier, another original member of Heart) and Randy (Hansen) and the four of us rehearsed for seven to 10 days. But the concert got cancelled and we never played in Alaska.”
The band, however, kept playing together and soon found themselves playing a benefit concert for Susan Komen Breast Cancer Research.
“People said they liked the band and after that we had agents calling us and booking us,” Fossen said. “And then we really began booking up after Mike and I were added to the (Rock and Roll) Hall of Fame.”
That was 2013 when the original Heart was added to the hall of fame. And ever since then, Heart By Heart’s performance calendar has been full. Heart By Heart, now a five member band, is not a tribute band to the original Heart which included Ann and Nancy Wilson. Rather, it’s a band that reproduces the original Heart songs “as faithfully as we can,” said Fossen. It was Macek that came up with the name Heart By Heart which she said signified their true feelings for one another.
Today, the band consists of Fossen on bass, Derosier on drums, Macek as lead vocalist, Hansen on guitar and Lizzy Daymont who came aboard last year. Seattle radio personality Bob Rivers had been playing keyboards, but had to leave the band because of health reasons.
“We were amazed with (Lizzy’s) musical talents and how well she knew the songs,” Fossen said. “A week later she joined us on stage as a member of Heart By Heart. In fact, when I heard Somar and Lizzy harmonize for the first time, I had to hide my face because I thought I was going to cry.”
Daymont sings and plays guitar and keyboards.
Heart By Heart has their own following and they play throughout the U.S. including Baltimore, Atlantic City, Washington D.C, Chicago, many places in California, and of course, the Pacific Northwest which is home to the original Heart members as well as members of Heart By Heart.
Although they’re not hot, young rock’n’rollers, band members can keep up with them and have held their age.
“It gets in your blood,” Fossen said of the traveling and playing concerts. “We love it. It’s so fun to play in these places and to meet great people. Even the county fairs are fun. They take good care of you and it’s good money.”
As for their audiences, it’s a mixture of young and old.
“The older people like to reminisce about where they were when the songs first came out,” Fossen said. “And the younger crowd has been exposed to the songs by their parents. They know the music and they like it.”
But one thing, Fossen said, is that they don’t dress the part. Band members won’t go back to the fashion and the hair of the 1970s and 1980s.
Fossen, who acts as spokesman for the band, showed an interest in music from a young age.
“My mother was very interested in developing whatever talents my sister and I had,” he said. “At first it was tap dancing. But in fourth grade I got to choose an instrument at school. I took home a trumpet for a weekend and within a week I could play the Star Spangled Banner.”
Time, however, pointed him in another direction.
“In seventh grade was when rock’n’roll became really big,” he said. “And there was no place for a trumpet in rock’n’roll. So I put the trumpet aside and picked up a bass guitar and from that day on, no one could pry it out of my hands.”
He played in garage bands with friends throughout high school and in 1967, he and another friend, Roger Fisher, began the band that turned into Heart. Fisher played with Heart until 1980. He then went on to be a member of the band Alias.
Band members in Heart By Heart are driven to recreate the songs of Heart with purity. Fossen said they didn’t have to get permission from the Wilsons to play Heart’s songs.
“Any band can play any song it wants,” he said. “But if you put it on a CD, you have to get licensed to use the song and that can cost a bit of money.”
Fossen and Derosier left Heart in 1982. The Wilson sisters continued on. If there were any hard feelings at the time, they’ve gone by the wayside.
“Mike and I love, respect and honor the (Heart) songs and the historical significance of the music by Heart,” Fossen said.
Among the top songs they play are “Magic Man,” “Crazy on You,” “Heartless,” and “Barracuda.”
Heart By Heart will play at 9 p.m. Aug. 24 in the Thunderbird Arena after the Xtreme Bulls competition. Tickets range from $16 to $36 and can be purchased online at www.kitsapgov.com/parks/Fairgrounds/pages/Fair_Entertainment.htm.