Olympic Games athletes aren’t the only ones who have had to play before faux fans.
Steve Fossen — original bass player for the seminal rock band Heart and one of the key pieces behind the group’s predecessor, Heart by Heart — said he and fellow musicians have spent much of the past 16 months without live shows, and even played a few to venues with cardboard cutouts.
So it’s perhaps no surprise that Fossen and fellow Heart By Heart members are happy to be back on stage in front of live audiences.
“It’s verging on incredible; people are so enthusiastic to hear live music,” Fossen said.
“When you tell a joke, you hear laughter. When a song is over, there’s applause.”
Heart by Heart, featuring original Heart members Fossen (1969-1982) and drummer Michael DeRosier (1975-1982), along with lead vocalist Somar Macek, guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Lizzy Daymont and guitarist Chad Quist, return to the Olympic Peninsula for a show at at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 14, at 7 Cedars Casino.
Tickets are $10 (available at 7cedars.com) to see the group recreate classic rock songs that put Heart among the top rock bands of the 1970s, 80s and 90s and, in 2013, put the group into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Awaiting a flight for the group’s Aug. 6 show in Winterhaven, Calif., Fossen said the group is pleased to be coming back to the Olympic Peninsula for another show a 7 Cedars.
“Seven Cedars was one of the first casinos on the West Coast that really believed in Heart by Heart,” Fossen said. “They’ve always been very good to us. Everyone appreciates loyalty (and) we always have a good time.”
Fans have show that kind of reciprocal love over the years as Heart By Heart looks to bring classic rock singles such as “Magic Man,” “Crazy on You” and “Barracuda.”
Fossen said his favorite remains “Magic Man,” the first song he recorded for Dreamboat Annie, the band’s debut album. Written by Ann and Nancy Wilson, the track was originally released in Canada in May 1975. It became Heart’s first top-10 hit, peaking at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 on Nov. 6, 1976.
“(It’s) the first tune I heard on the radio, and one of the first songs that caught on in America,” Fossen said.
To date, Heart overall has sold more than 35 million records worldwide, including more than $22.5 million in album sales in the U.S. They have had top-10 albums on the Billboard 200 in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2010s, and the group was ranked number 57 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.
Fossen said his ears perk up in particular when he hears one of Heart’s songs on the radio or in a store
“I pause,” he said. “I still play that music (and I) still want to play it right.”
Heart By Heart members didn’t have a lot to play in the past year-plus thanks to the COVID outbreak. Fossen and Macek, who are married and live near Seattle, organize the band’s shows, travel and other details. During the “COVID year” the pair got busy with more domestic responsibilities, along with the occasional performance in front of faux fans.
“You do what you’ve got to do,” Fossen joked.
When live shows started back up in recent weeks, the pair got busy putting the band back on stage. Recent shows have had Heart By Heart in Ohio, Wisconsin and California.
“(Back in early 2020) we thought, at first, ‘It’ll last a couple of months, maybe April or May; we’ll be back by June’,” Fossen recalled. “They kept canceling canceling. Finally we just gave up. Now it’s starting to percolate back up again.”
“We got so many calls after the vaccine took hold; it was astounding. You go out and you see the result of the economy coming back.”
Unfortunately, COVID numbers are on the rise again, too. Fossen said Heart by Heart has a long slate of shows coming up, including the Washington State Fair and Seattle-area festivals. One event in Kirkland has already been canceled with virus numbers on the rise, he said.
“I hope and pray we don’t get back to the way it was,” Fossen said. “If that’s stuffs in jeopardy, (we’ll) be back to where we were last year.”
Heart by Heart has been going strong since 2010, adding Daymont in 2013 and Quist in the past four years.
“We all get along; we have fun together (and) we travel well together,” Fossen said. “We have similar expectations.”
Concert-goers enjoy the radio hits, Fossen noted, but the group is starting to play some “deep cuts” from albums that longtime fans recognize and appreciate.
Regardless of the song, Fossen said, this part doesn’t change: “We always put out one-hundred percent, every show.”
Heart by Heart, in concert
When: 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 14
Where: 7 Cedars Casino, 270756 US Highway 101
Tickets: $10 (free for Rewards Card members)
More info: 7cedars.com/heart-by-heart.html