The Lovemongers !
The Lovemongers are Ann and Nancy Wilson, Sue Ennis and Frank Cox.
What exactly is a Lovemonger ?
Ann responds: "It's a person that makes music purely for the love of it, an artist who fights hard not to make it an institution. It's someone who goes up onstage in a turtle-neck shirt or whatever piece of clothing they happen to wake up in."
And Nancy: "A Lovemonger is a musician with no real set list, someone who decides what to play a few moments before they go onstage, whether it's at a club or a peace rally."
In January of 1991, at the height of the Persian Gulf war, Ann and Nancy Wilson were approached to perform at a Red Cross "Support the Troops" benefit at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, Washington. After just coming off of the long Brigade tour with Heart, Ann and Nancy were literally climbing the walls. So, they decided that it was time to kick back, relax and have fun again. In an attempt to get back to their musical roots, they assembled a small group of musicians that would team up to produce a folksy, more mellow style of music. Seattle area musician and long time friend Frank Cox, was recruited to play mandolin, guitar and sing. Another very close friend, Sue Ennis, who is the third member (along with Ann and Nancy Wilson ) of the song writing team affectionately known as "Connie", was also persuaded to join. The band penned the name "The Lovemongers", as an anti-war statement aimed at the "war-mongering" that was taking place in the Middle East.
Everyone in the band figured the Red Cross benefit to be a one-time only show. A few songs into the set, it was plain to see that the fans wanted more from this fresh, new band. After playing several shows in the Seattle area, such as three nights at the New Melody Tavern (which sold out all three nights by word of mouth alone), the "Bumbershoot Festival", the "Singles" wrap party at the opening of RKNDY (along with Pearl Jam) and many long hours of rehearsals, they continued to polish their "sound". Then in September, they headed for The Backstage in nearby Ballard, Washington, for a four night stand. Not only was this series of sold-out concerts a major success for The Lovemongers, but it also produced a four song CD Maxi Single from Capitol Records entitled "Battle Of Evermore". The title track (a classic Led Zeppelin cover) was destined for the triple-platinum Epic Records soundtrack album from the movie "Singles". Also covered on the disk were Todd Rundgren's "Love Of The Common Man", The Temptation's "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" and a brand new version of Heart's hugely successful "Crazy On You".
But The Lovemongers didn't stop there! Next, came a VH-1 special, an appearance on ABC In Concert and the MTV Singles Premier Party (on a bill with Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam). In November of '92 they warmed up a crowd of more that 10,000 for the soon-to-be Vice President, Al Gore and a month later helped the Seattle Democratic Party celebrate President Bill Clinton's election at the victory party. Then, it was off to New York City for the 20th anniversary of Rock For Choice at The Ritz Club, a series of mini-tours and another rally, this time to kick off First Lady Hillary Clinton's Health Care campaign.
After a series of Christmas concerts to raise money for local homeless shelters, The Lovemongers turned their attention to mother earth by appearing in the first Global Earth Day Satellite Radio Concert in '93 and later, in the 25th Anniversary of Earth Day concert in Seattle in 1995.
As 1996 rolls around, The Lovemongers are getting set for several new record releases. First comes the song "Momma Why", that Ann and Nancy Wilson & Frank Cox wrote and recorded for the Home Alive benefit CD. Then, "Hurry Up Healer" for The Lovejoy Project, a charity that will benefit Seattle-area AIDS organizations and "Daddy's War", a song for the Peace Wave CD, a compilation of local bands put together to benefit the Seattle Peace Concerts, a series of free outdoor summer events.
Even though the Wilson sisters have been busy with other interests (Heart has released two albums since "The Battle of Evermore" and Ann and Nancy are each pursuing solo projects), The Lovemongers continue to perform at benefits in the Seattle area and in April of this year, they headed back into the studio to resume working on their first full length album that is due out later this year.
One little sidebar here. The Lovemongers got together to have fun and play the kind of music that they wanted. They're under no obligation to a big record label to do stadium shows or long, extremely taxing tours. They're not in it for the money. That's pretty obvious, considering most of the shows they do are benefits. That doesn't mean that they won't show up on the spur of the moment at a club in your neighborhood, it just means that they're not obligated to do that. That's one of the things that makes their music so unique!
Even though Paula Stentz and Ben Smith aren't regular band members, they've performed with The Lovemongers at various benefits and shows and are currently in the studio helping out with the new album.
Ann Wilson: Vocals, guitars, bass and flute. Ann has been the lead vocalist for Heart for over twenty-five years. It's very easy for the casual listener to appreciate her awesome vocal power. A local writer once described Ann soaring through her range as "the musical equivalent of the Concorde lifting off". From such classic tunes as "Mistral Wind" to the incredible delivery of Tina Turner's dramatic "River Deep, Mountain High", Ann's vocal prowess is second to none. As a Lovemonger she wanted a chance to offer something more than just being a "front woman". Although Ann Wilson vocals have become a legend in the rock music arena, The Lovemongers have provided her with the opportunity to expand and grow. Picking up the bass first and then the guitar, she continues to add depth to the band. As Ann gains "string" experience (and continues to play her flute exquisitely), she is becoming more and more, the complete musician.
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Nancy Wilson: Vocals, guitars, mandolin and blues harp. Being somewhat of a shy teenager, Nancy was literally dragged onto the rock and roll scene by her older sister, Ann. With her joining Heart in 1974, Nancy not only added support to very capable guitarists Roger Fisher and Howard Leese, but being somewhat unique as a female guitar player, she added elegance to the Heart stage. After several personnel changes, Nancy and Howard have been the mainstay Heart guitarists for over twenty years. Desiring to lengthen her "resume", she has also learned and become quite skilled with the ukelele and mandolin. Incredible pieces, such as the duelling mandolins (with Frank Cox) in The Battle of Evermore, are part of what makes the Lovemonger "sound" so unique. Nancy's superb guitar skills are splendidly complimented by her voice, as her sultry lead vocals helped propel These Dreams to the top of the charts for Heart in 1986. Being one of the premier guitarists in the music industry today, Nancy's gifted ability to sing lead, as well as back-up, adds a significant depth to this already vocally blessed club band.
Sue Ennis: Vocals, keyboards and guitar. A long time friend, Sue has known Ann and Nancy since the Sammamish High School days in Seattle and has been writing songs with them for over twenty years, but she has always been out of the spotlight. Until she was practically pushed to the front at The Lovemongers debut at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, she had always felt more comfortable "behind-the-scenes". The Beatles were a major influence in her early music career and it shows in her writing. Sue brings to The Lovemongers an incredible song writing ability, backing vocals and a keyboard savvy that was just what the band needed to establish it's unique sound. Having very little stage experience, Sue was somewhat leary of performing live at first, but as The Lovemongers continue to perform, her stage presence has matured to the point where she now say's she wouldn't trade it for anything. Sue, along with the Wilson sisters, is the third member of the song writing sorority known as "Connie". There's a ROCKRGRL magazine interview here with Sue, by Carla DeSantis.
Frank Cox: Guitar, mandolin and vocals. Unless you're from the Seattle area, you may not know too much about Frank, but he's been totally involved in some form of music ever since high school. He's been a DJ, done voice-over's, session work and performed one man shows (performance art) all around Seattle. You may have caught his act at the New City Theatre, COCA, The 911 Arts Gallery or On The Boards. Frank first met Ann Wilson and Sue Ennis at a party in Seattle after a "Dog and Butterfly" concert in 1979. Over the years he and the Wilson sisters have become quite close, occasionally getting together for jam sessions in the living rooms of each other's homes. He has also performed with Heart for such performances as "The Tonight Show -with Jay Leno" and the "Fairway To Heaven II" VH-1 special, recorded live in Las Vegas. Other credits are the recording of "Momma Why" with Ann and Nancy on the compilation album "Home Alive". A busy man, he's not only a charter member of The Lovemongers, but also one of the original members of Ann Wilson and The Ricola Brothers, Ann's side band that is currently doing shows around the country. There is a 1992 interview here by Indra Haim for City Heat.
Connie is a name that Ann and Nancy Wilson and Sue have been calling themselves since about the time of Heart's "Dog And Butterfly" album. Fans world-wide have always been curious as to why this group of multi-talented song-writers would refer to each other as Connie. To satisfy an ever-growing curiousity, I asked Sue and this is what she had to say - "Connie is the nickname we three call each other. (If you were in a room with us, you'd think it was an odd coincidence that threewomen all had the same name. Each one of us is a Connie.) The name came out ofa hilarious conversation we three had many years ago, talking about our highschool experience. It seemed like a very common girl's name, a name for awell-adjusted, "normal" girl. That isn't, of course, how we would describe any of us.We latched onto the name because of how it sounded. I can't explain thispart. We all love language and we all have the same musical sense for howwords sound. This word just sounded funny to us. We also discovered thatConnie is also a man's name...an old cowboy name...which we thought was veryfunny for some reason. I'm afraid there is very little logical sense to whywe came up with Connie. It could have been any name. The main thing is thatwe all had to be called the same name..that's because we sometimes feel soclose, we feel like we're all the same person".
"The Battle of Evermore", The Lovemongers CD Maxi Single from Capitol Records was released in 1992 and contains four tracks.
VH-1 ran a show that "showcases" summer concert tours called "Route 96".
To view a few video clips from this episode, Click HereFor the Seattle segment, they chose non other than Seattle's own Ann Wilson to be their tour guide. Being the gracious host that she is, Ann walked with them around the city, stopping to chat at some of her "hang-outs". Between every third of fourth video, they would briefly talk with her about Heart, The Lovemongers, her musical background, Seattle's musical heritage, sister Nancy and the Bad Animals Studio. Being the butts that these TV personalities sometimes can be, they put Ann on the spot by asking her to sing something new from The Lovemongers. She sang about 5 seconds of "Elysian", one of the songs reportedly on the new album. All in all, it was an excellent vehicle to give Ann some much deserved air-time!
- Added 8/20/96 - Nancy Wilson released an instructional guitar video. On this tape you get a rare and insightful glimpse of Nancy's style and technique on acoustic guitar. She shows you step-by-step some of her most popular guitar pieces, such as These Dreams, Dreamboat Annie, Dog And Butterfly and much more. Also shown are finger picking, flat picking, open string chords and much more. This tape is a must-have for guitar players and collectors alike.
- Added 9/08/96 - The Lovemongers have completed a new 4-song "demo" which was sent out to various agents inthe music world, with intent to snare a label (and record deal?)! The demo was recorded over a10-day period beginning 8/16 at "Synergy Studio" near Seattle. Mixing of the demo took place inStudio X at "Bad Animals". Scotty Olson co-produced & engineered the sessions.
The tracks and brief history are:
"Laughing"- This song was originally a David Crosby composition (circa 1971) featured on his first solo album ("If I Could Only Remember My Name"). The song was chosen because, as Ann says, "it's an old, old, friend". It has been a staple over the years of many a "Connie" hootenanny! The song is built around rich, stacked harmonies which The Lovemongers felt suited them. Ann sang the "keeper" lead vocal in two takes. An "old friend" indeed! :-)
"Kiss"- This song is a "Connie" composition. It was written for the movie "French Kiss", but the director went with a soundtrack composer to score the film instead. As Connie said, "We were happy to have it back! " It's a sultry, almost trippy song set to a Ben Smith's bass drum heartbeat. Ann's vocal is classic Ann... sly, sexy, dynamic! "Could be our best song in years!".
"Down By Love"- A Frank Cox composition. This is sung by Nancy, and Paula Stentz plays percussion. Ann playing bass (of course!). Frank was moved to write this song after he heard about the hideous, still-unsolved murder of local musician Mia Zapata (of The Gits). It's an uptempo, acoustic song which starts small and really rocks at the end!
"Sand"- This particular song, by all 4 of The Lovemongers, was built around an old melody Frank Cox wrote for "Dreamfriends" long ago. The song is about the loss of The Lovemongers mutual friend Gregory Bowker to AIDS this year. "He was a great friend, and an incredible loving and wonderful human being. We wanted to write a song about how fleeting life is.". "Sand" refers to the sand in an hourglass... kind of early Moody Blues. Ann sings lead, and Nancy & Frank chime in with layered harmonies. The demo version is very stripped down, with only acoustic guitars, percussion, and bass. Should the demo of this song make it to record, it just might get "richer" production.