Politician, on Ann Wilson’s “Immortal”
the long circuitous road that lead to my guitar presence here-
I played drums for a high school band called The Motives, who, at a small lakeside resort ballroom called Vasa Park, won a battle of the bands. One of those bands was A Boy and His Dog, Ann Wilson sang lead. We were all just kids. This fell from memory for decades until, reuniting with Motives member Jim Hill, he told me he sang backup vocals on “Dreamboat Annie”, and Ann recognized him, joking about how we beat her band. Another high school friend, guitarist Jimmy Chirillo, now an accomplished jazz musician, joined a band from another nearby high school called White Heart. I recall hanging out with them once or twice way back. Of course White Heart, Ann, and her sister Nancy, evolved into Heart. That history is easily found elsewhere.
I changed from drums to guitar somewhere in there, and was in a series of rock bands, like most very young musicians. Through some retrospectively strange osmosis I wound up in a band called Blue Max, with drummer Mike Derosier, also meeting Dean Wetter as a friend and partner in crime to the band. During that period some buzz about Heart was generating, their first album was getting some traction. Mike and I worked at a somewhat historical hifi company called Phase Linear, where I gained some electronics skills. Heart hired Mike away from us, and that was the end of Blue Max. There’s a novel’s worth of hijinx and characters in the period above, but I’m sticking with a quick history of loose peripheral and very intermittant connections with Ann that ultimately lead to my presence on her new record, the first and possibly only performance in my musical life on commercial released music after all these years.
A few years later I was approached by Mike Fisher to help with the building and road managing of a touring sound system, originally for Heart. That put me in more regular working contact with the band, until the sound system crashed and burned. Ann and I didn’t have a lot of contact during these times, except during times of band and crew gatherings. At some point Nancy and I became friends. We’d play guitars together and she was very supportive of the bands I was in. Mike also played a role in helping those efforts. Dean was a major player during all these efforts, a catalyst for anything we attempted and accomplished and experienced then, another novel’s worth of stories. During this period, Ann and Dean met for the first time, and dated briefly.
Now comes the years of leaving music, all of us drifting off, establishing other careers, families, homes, etc.. I completely disconnected with the local community of music and committed to my photography passion and career. Heart achieved greater and greater successes.
Dean and I remained close, sometimes more, sometimes less over the decades. There was the occasional but persistent refrain of.. know anyone who knows how to contact Ann? Finally that happened, they reconnected, and married in 2015.
I never really stopped playing and working on personal music with no aspirations beyond personal fulfillment. But I’d usually send it to Dean to hear. After 2015 that meant Ann heard it too, resulting in a few pieces being used for her band’s roll out music.
When Ann embarked on Immortal, and was considering what do do about guitar for her contemporary vision of Politician, they let me give it a shot. Pretty remarkable when you consider I am totally unknown, and the other guests on the album are talented established known artists.
So here we are, it’s a great album, Ann’s a great artist. I’m sharing guitar duties with Doyle Bramhall II and Tim Pierce, backed by her excellent band. Though we are all sleazing our way through the entire song, Doyle is the first solo, the second solo is me, incredibly set up by Ann’s provocative line, you’ll hear it.
OK, I just wanted to lay all that out, as much for my own clarity as anything else. Seems like there’s a lot of “full circle” stuff going on here. So, tired of typing, I’m on and album! And deeply indebted to Ann Wilson for the quality of the experience all the way around. Buy the album! Good night!