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MUSIC NOTES: Heart’s Ann Wilson says ‘Magic Man’ was written on King George Highway trips

Music views, news and reviews for Surrey and Metro Vancouver
Singer Ann Wilson with Tripsitter band members at Coquitlam’s Hard Rock Casino. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Back in the early 1970s, before Heart hit the North American charts with Led Zeppelin-influenced riffs and lyrics, the band cut its teeth in the clubs and high school gyms of the Lower Mainland.

So it was a homecoming Friday, Oct. 13, for singer Ann Wilson when she played two sets of classic rock with her current band, Tripsitter, at Coquitlam’s Hard Rock Casino theatre.

Five songs in, after “Magic Man,” the 73-year-old Wilson reminded the crowd just how local Heart once was.

At The Birdcage in White Rock “we were the house band on and off, but we lived in West Van,” Wilson recalled. “Every night we had these two long trips, you know, to and from the club. So in the back of a van rolling down King George Highway, my sister Nancy and Roger Fisher came up with the riff for that last song, and also for ‘Love Alive,’ just on those rides back and forth.

“I’ll never forget it,” Wilson added. “It was quite cool, just young, poverty-stricken musicians trying to put ends together. But that was then, but we don’t hang around looking backward because we’re here, this is now,” she added before playing a new song called, appropriately, “This is Now.”

It was among four songs from the just-released “Another Door” album recorded by Wilson and Tripsitter, quite a formidable foursome with guitarists Paul Moak and Ryan Wariner, bassist Tony Lucido and drummer Sean T. Lane.

The band also ripped through six songs made famous by Heart including the ’80s power ballad “Alone.” That acoustic number sandwiched “Going to California,” one of three Zep songs performed (also “The Ocean” and “Immigrant Song”). All night long, Wilson wasn’t afraid to rock covers including The Who’s “Love, Reign O’er Me,” Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” (mashed with the disco groove of “Straight On”), John Lennon’s “Isolation” and Queen’s “Love of My Life.”

A few nights earlier in Santa Rosa, California, Nancy Wilson played “Barracuda” with her sister for the first time since 2019, as the show-closer. The siblings are the heartbeat of Heart, of course, so perhaps a reunion concert tour might happen one day following a seven-year chill in their relationship, after Ann’s husband struck one of Nancy’s kids (he pleaded guilty).

Hopefully a reunion happens before it’s too late. Wilson’s mobility isn’t the greatest these days, and high notes are harder for her to hit, but she remains a queen of rock who can still entertain a theatre full of fans.

• RELATED: Concerts are happening again at 2 casino theatres in Metro Vancouver, and here’s why.

Wilson’s concert is a reminder that casino theatres in Coquitlam and Richmond are rocking again thanks to a partnership between Live Nation Canada and Great Canadian Entertainment, a deal announced in June.

Concerts on the Hard Rock calendar include ABRA Cadabra (Oct. 19), The Country Divas (Nov. 16), The Tea Party with I Mother Earth (Nov. 17), Great White/Slaughter (Jan. 20), Skid Row/Buckcherry (March 3) and a Classic Albums Live performance of Led Zeppelin II (March 24). The casino’s Asylum dance club is also busy with bands on weekend nights.


Good to see Corey Hart return strong with a new song called “Dinosaurs,” a relatively upbeat number about his decades-old struggle with back pain. The “Sunglasses at Night” singer also confesses his love for wife Julie “Maggie” Masse.

“Dinosaurs” is inspired by the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh, who wrote a book, “No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering,” suggesting that the secret to happiness is to fully embrace pain or suffering, not run from it.

“I’m very grateful to still have the opportunity of sharing my music with the world,” Hart says. “I’ve battled against debilitating chronic back pain since injuring myself in a sports trauma 18 years ago. In plain talk, my spine has been f**ked ever since. My cervical vertebrae were fused in a surgery years ago, but I’ve rarely discussed, publicly or privately, my ongoing plight with this wickedly pernicious of enemies. In 2021, I herniated three more disks. One year later, I wrote ‘Dinosaurs.’ I felt it was important to release this single.”

A video for the song was filmed in Spain by Toronto-based director Peter Guzda.

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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