Ronnie Heart’s Neo-Disco Soul
Ronnie Heart is the bomb. Period. The last time I caught him was in the summer at a Friday on the Green, a monthly concert series that the Weekly puts on with Fort Worth South Inc. A diminutive presence with a black mini-pompadour and eyeglasses –– and dressed sharp as hell –– Heart discoed to his particular brand of throwback-’80s R&B/funk/rock while picking out squealing solos on his guitar and singing. If you’re thinking, “Prince,” you would be correct.
The 28-year-old Fort Worthian, though, is much more interested in the creative force that drives us all than in little red Corvettes, and he goes much deeper than the inside of a raspberry beret. Creative energies? Funk? R&B? Rawk? That’s Ronnie Heart.
Heart is putting the finishing touches on his debut album. Your Mine was recorded mostly at his Near Southside home and partly at New Media Recordings, the Near Southside home recording studio of The Theater Fire’s James Talambas. Heart said the 10-track long-player should be out by June. Heart started writing the material in 2011, not long after he left his former project, indie-world darlings Neon Indian, and a couple of years after his first group, Gazelles, disbanded. In the meanwhile, he had been accompanying other bands (he played bass on my favorite album of 2013, Ice Eater’s Don’t Care) and for the past three years has been teaching at School of Rock in the West 7th corridor. Heart wrote, arranged, and performed every instrument on Your Mine. “I would describe it as heavy on synthesized sounds, a lot that you may attribute to sci-fi sounds,” he said, “and the beats are disco-inspired [or] from the early ’80s.”
Logical comparisons, he said, can be made to Michael Jackson and Prince, “and then after that, it’s a lot of early-’90s R&B and soul, stuff that still remains funky.”
Heart is still pitching in with other artists, having recently laid down some hot lixxx for Picnic, a member of The Cannabinoids, the backing band of Grammy-winning Dallasite Erykah Badu. He’s also worked with Zhora, the Dallas songstress who’ll join him and Dallas’ Sam Lao on Saturday at The Where House (2510 Hemphill St., 817-913-7777). Though he will have a backing band for Saturday –– drummer Aaron Stanfield (a fellow instructor at School of Rock) and DJ Jon Reed (a.k.a. Elements of Noise) –– Heart still doesn’t have an all-in support cast. And he’d like one to be able to go on tour once the album comes out. “I definitely want to tour,” Heart said. “I feel that’s part of what I want my craft to be. Dancing matters so much to me. … I love dancing, so I want to dance with it, and I want to inspire other people to do it as well.”
Along with touring, Heart has another project up his sleeve. “What I love about going out to see music in Fort Worth [is that] I’ll go out to see a blues band, a punk rock band, then, like, a Southern-rocky-type band or a country-inspired band, and I get all these dynamic ideas from watching these people,” he said. “So, for instance, a band who I feel has a lot of funk in their music, like a lot of syncopated everything, all the instruments and singing, is Quaker City Night Hawks. I want to do a cover of ‘Rattlesnake Boogie’ … and put my own Ronnie spin on it. … I want to do that with other bands.”
Heart is satisfied with Your Mine so far. “My rule [is that] if I’m working on music, I have to almost be ecstatic while I’m working on it,” he said. “I have to pump myself up to try to feel otherworldly within this time frame. Anytime I work on it, I get really excited. … You know like how you hear a really good bassline or guitar, you sort of grimace? That’s the way I want to feel even when I’m composing, so I know I’m going to be happy with the results.”
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