Karen Hart's first performance was at the Rosemont Horizon and she has been ROCKIN' ever since. Karen started her own band, the
Karen Hart Band , performing at large festivals such as; The Taste of Chicago, Schaumburg Septemberfest, Bolingbrook Jubilee, Northlake Days, Naperville Last Fling, Carol Stream Fest, Woodridge Jubilee, Frankfort Fall Fest,
Batavia Windmill City Fest, Bartlett 4th of July Fest, Plainfield Fest, Bloomingdale Septemberfest, Taste of Polonia, Cantigny, Taste of Lombard, Monee Fall Faire,
Lisle Eyes to the Skies, Winfield Good Old Days, West Chicago Railroad Days, Berwyn Centennial Festival, Long Grove Festivals, Somonauk Summerfest, and Worth Days to name a few.
She has added another band to her portfolio, Just Pretending, paying tribute to The Pretenders. Previously, Karen performed with Cheap Dates, Battlefield (a Pat Benatar tribute band), portrayed Linda McCartney in Band on the Run (a Paul McCartney Tribute band) and portrayed Nancy Wilson in Heart to Heartbreaker (a Heart and Pat Benatar tribute band) and is currently portraying Christine McVie in Fleetwood Nicks (a Fleetwood Mac Tribute band) out in Las Vegas. Most recently Karen shared lead vocals while playing guitar with Julia Lawrence in the acoustic rock duo Vinyl Vixens.
Karen has shared the stage with national acts such as the Gin Blossims, the Smithereens, Dennis DeYoung, the Ides of March, Davy Jones and the New Colony Six. Karen Hart's high-energy and powerful vocals leave no doubt she can ROCK like few others. Her love of music is evident in her performance and watching the fun she has on stage, you can't help but join in on it.
Jimmy T is the quintessential lead guitar player, offering top-level professionalism while standing out as a unique talent in the Chicago land music scene.
He brings a dynamic, fun approach to the Karen Hart Band and Just Pretending creating an energy that brings audiences to their feet wanting more.
Jimmy is excited to be back in the Chicago land music scene as the lead guitarist for Karen Hart Band and Just Pretending. He has played with local rock bands such as TNT-Chicago, Dawn Patrol and his past original band Republic Steel.
Jimmy started his musical journey as a kid when he happened to see Def Leppard on MTV and spent days after school learning their songs. His favorite guitarists include Steve Clark, Eddie Van Halen, Vito Bratta, Steve Vai, George Lynch and Al DiMeola.
Marty Kerlin is the backbone of the Karen Hart Band and Just Pretending's rhythm section; his abilities are unparalleled when emulating the sounds and bass passages of The Pretenders, one of his favorite bands. He also knows most any other song the band can throw at him!
Marty started playing the bass guitar in his hometown of Phoenix back in the early 70s. His favorite bass players include Gary Thain (Uriah Heep), Bruce Thomas (Elvis Costello) and Geddy Lee (Rush). After relocating to suburban Washington, DC, he played the college/club circuit throughout the Mid-Atlantic states. Marty then focused on original music projects in the Washington/Baltimore area and later in Chicago. After taking time off for work and family, Marty is back rockin' the scene and is super excited to be part of the Karen Hart Band and Just Pretending to share with everyone some of his favorite music!
Mike Vicicondi is the driving force behind the Karen Hart Band and Just Pretending bringing an exciting and solid foundation. He has played with a number of local bands throughout the years
such as the Turnstiles, Sweeter Sounds and Wendigo. Mike also established a wedding band that was booked every weekend playing every wedding venue imaginable. Mike also recorded an EP with Bonemen of Burumba.
Mike started his musical journey in junior high school when he became involved with band, orchestra and the drum & bugle corps. Mike has a passion for collecting vintage drums. Any weekend you can find him in several drum stores throughout Chicago and the western suburbs searching for percussion treasures. Like most musicians from his era Mike enjoys the music from the 1960's British Invasion as well as classic rock tunes from the 1970's. Mike's favorite drummers are Ian Paice, Joe Morello and Danny Seraphine from the band Chicago.
The Pretenders would never have happened had Chrissie Hynde not have crossed the Atlantic in a move to London in 1973.
As the founding member and lead vocalist, guitarist, and primary songwriter of the English-American rock band The Pretenders, Chrissie Hynde emerged from the British post punk movement and in less than four years was hailed as one of the best guitar-based rock bands in the music scene in both Britain and the US. Hynde's soulful vocals formed a perfect complement to artfully mastered musical lines supplied by the rest of the players in the band. "Kid," "Message of Love," and "Mystery Achievement" are but a few song highlights of the first two albums. By the mid '80s it had become very clear that The Pretenders had become a vehicle for the increasingly talented Hynde. She had broken ground for women in rock and roll not only with her band but collaborating with other famous artists both in music and in film. To name just a few... Stevie Nicks, Rod Stewart, Robert Plant, Ringo Starr, Annie Lennox, Sheryl Crow, Shirley Manson of Garbage, Jason Mraz, Frank Sinatra, Joan Osborn, Jeff Beck, Faith Hill, Cheap Trick, Neil Young, and even John McEnroe, Bruce Willis and Johnny Depp.
In August of 1980 Madonna saw the Pretenders perform in Central Park and is noted to have said "Chrissie was amazing: the only woman I'd seen in performance where I thought, yeah, she's got balls, she's awesome! ... It gave me courage, inspiration, to see a woman with that kind of confidence in a man's world.” Hynde was raised in Akron Ohio, and moved to London in 1973. Despite her early devotion, however, Hynde had to fight her way slowly into the real music world. Between 1973 and 1978, Hynde's determination to become part of a rock band met with only near misses. Despite invitations to various gigs where her peers recognized her as a strong musician/songwriter, none of the men forming bands would accept Hynde as a full-fledged member.
It wasn't until 1978 Chrissie made a demo tape and gave it to Dave Hill, owner of the label Real Records. Hill advised Hynde to take her time and get the right band together, which she accomplished shortly after. The name "The Pretenders" was inspired by the Platters 1955 R&B hit "The Great Pretender."
In 1985 the Pretenders performed at Live Aid as well as collaborating with Ray Davies of the Kinks. She and Davies had a child and then she later married Jim Kerr, lead singer of the band Simple Minds and had her second child.
Music wasn't the only talent Hynde had in her pocket. In 1995, she made an acting appearance as fictional character Stephanie Schiffer on the US television comedy Friends in which she performed "Angel of the Morning" and "Smelly Cat" (which she co-wrote) with Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay on acoustic guitar. She also supplied the voice for Siri, the clouded leopard in the movie Rugrats Go Wild (2003) singing a duet with Bruce Willis.
On April 10, 1999, Hynde and The Pretenders led the memorial concert "Here, There and Everywhere - A Concert for Linda" Chrissie's late close friend Linda McCartney at the Royal Albert Hall, London. Proceeds went to animal rights charities as Hynde is an animal rights activist and a supporter of PETA. Also in 1999, the group performed at the Lilith Fair, a festival centered around female musicians. As an outspoken crusader for PETA, Hynde was arrested in March 2000 in a protest against the Gap clothing store. Although she spent a night in jail, the protest was a success, with the Gap changing its policy toward illegal leather products. That year Hynde also joined Sheryl Crow on vocals and guitar performing "If It Makes You Happy" during a concert in Central Park.
In 2004, Hynde moved to Brazil to play with Brazilian musician Moreno Veloso in an informal tour. In 2005, Hynde duetted with Ringo Starr on a song entitled "Don't Hang Up" which can be heard on Starr's album Choose Love. And the year 2005 proved to be one of the most notable for Chrissie Hynde as she and the Pretenders were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Aside from song writing and rocking stages across the globe, September 8, 2015 Hynde published an autobiography, Reckless: My Life as a Pretender and also released a limited-edition book of her artworks.