About Us

Come out and ROCK with us!

Karen Hart Band

The Karen Hart Band - Pretending (KHB) features the music of The Pretenders along with the Power Women of ROCK!

KHB has four experienced and solid musicians who love what they are doing entertaining all ages with their great song selection and endless energy. Their high-energy shows are filled with variety, flashy guitar work with a memorable show that continues to rock audiences of all ages. KHB takes exceptional care and precision to duplicate the original studio recordings live on stage without backing tracks, just incredible musicianship paying tribute to the spirit and music of The Pretenders and the Power Women of ROCK!

Chicagoland's premiere female-fronted Classic Rock cover band!! "I love these guys" says Kori Chambers from FOX News Chicago, "These guys are awesome" reported Kim Vatis from NBC 5 News Chicago. Just a few of the comments made by local morning show personalities when talking about the Karen Hart Band (KHB) as they opened the 2008 Taste of Chicago on LIVE TV. Karen fronts this talented group of musicians with her powerful vocals and endless energy. She does not limit herself to just female artists, she ROCKS on all the great songs with a song selection that makes you want to move. KHB is diverse, what sets them apart is the fact they are a rock solid band with four experienced musicians who all sing lead and background vocals providing the variety people continue to come out and see. Ask their fans who voted! KHB won Best Classic Rock Band, Best Female Front for a Band and Best Rock Band in Suburban's NiteLife's "Best of the Burbs" contest.

The Karen Hart Band has shared the stage with some great acts including The Ides of March, Davy Jones, The Family Stone, ARRA, M&R Rush, American English, Hi-Infidelity and Infinity rocking audiences at festivals, fairs and corporate functions such as;

The Taste of Chicago     Naperville's Last Fling
Schaumburg Septemberfest     Bolingbrook Jubilee
Taste of Lombard     Northlake Days
Taste of Polonia     Carol Stream Fest
Woodridge Jubilee     Frankfort Fall Fest
Plainfield Fest     Plainfield River Days
Winfield Good Old Days     Bartlett 4th of July Fest
Schaumburg Septemberfest     Bloomingdale Septemberfest
Long Grove Strawberry Festival     Long Grove Apple Festival
Somonauk Summerfest     Worth Days
West Chicago Railroad Days     Berwyn Centennial Fest
Eli's Cheesecake Fest     Monee Fall Faire

Previous shows include sharing the stage with the Gin Blossoms, the Smithereens and Dennis DeYoung along with performing at;

The Rosemont Horizon     Franklin Fest
Milwaukee Summerfest     ElmFest
Naperville Last Fling     Palos Hills Fest
Cedar Rapids Freedom Fest     Lamb's Farm Octoberfest
Hoffman Estates Fest     Waukesha Festival
Elmwood Park Fest     Lynwood Fest
Mundelein Fest     Casey Fest
Pewaukee Fest     Orpheum Theatre in Galesburg
The Taste of Lake Geneva     Grundy County Fair
Grays Lake Festival     Abbey Road on the River

The great thing about KHB is the band's chemistry between themselves and the audience. The fans just love it when Karen and Norm go out and mingle playing their wireless guitars. To stay innovative, the band is constantly improving their show with new material and exciting musical arrangements with an intense energy level to lure future fans and keep their existing fans coming back. Whether your venue is a festival, concert in the park series, nightclub or private party, the Karen Hart Band can deliver the high-energy and entertaining performances your patrons deserve. Come out and see for yourself, view the Band Schedule.

Band Members

Karen Hart

Karen Hart

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.

One of Karen's favorite moments was opening the Taste of Chicago featured on LIVE TV by NBC, CBS, FOX, CLTV and WGN TV.

Along with the Karen Hart Band , Karen started Just Pretending, which pays tribute to The Pretenders. Previously, Karen performed with Cheap Dates, GUI, ZSharp, Battlefield (a Pat Benatar tribute band), portrayed Linda McCartney in Band on the Run (a Paul McCartney Tribute band) and portrayed Nancy Wilson in Heartless and Heart to Heartbreaker. Karen has also protrayed Christine McVie in Fleetwood Mach.

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.

Greg Link

Greg Link

Greg Link 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.

Greg Link really likes to play guitar and studied guitar with Stu Pearce for 13 years. Since the early 70’s he has played in original, corporate, wedding, Classic Rock, Blues, 50's and 60's and dance bands for decades. Always fortunate enough to play with other good musicians and work steadily, he continues to enjoy the instrument and still strives to be the best he can for audiences nationwide.

Marty Kerlin

Marty Kerlin

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 Kerlin got his start on the bass guitar back in his hometown of Phoenix, AZ in the 1970's. After relocating to the suburbs of Washington, DC, he spent many years playing rock/pop covers, then ultimately focusing on all-original projects in the Washington/Baltimore area and then later in Chicago.

After taking time off for work and family, Marty is back rockin' the scene and is super excited to be playing some of his favorite music for everyone to enjoy!

Toby Nickels

Toby Nickels

Toby Nickels is the driving force behind the Karen Hart Band and Just Pretending bringing an exciting and solid foundation.

Toby began his music journey on the piano but soon switched to drums, composition and production. He has performed in and worked with a wide variety of musical groups, both live and in studio, coverering a range of styles, from rock to jazz, metal to hip hop, folk and punk. He enjoys performing the Pretenders material, which are very drum driven songs.

Other Projects

The Karen Hart Band also performs a tribute to the Pretenders! Check it out!

A Tribute to The Pretenders

Karen Hart Band


Keep checking back with us for upcoming shows!

West Chicago Railroad Days
6/28/2024 7:00 - 8:30p
We're back at West Chicago Railroad Days, YAY! Tell your family and friends to meet you there for a great time! There will be a carnival, activities for children, beer tent, live music (Hey, that's us!), and a fireworks display sponsored by the City of West ChicagoLots of great food, rides and entertainment (Hey! That's Us!).

Pioneer Park, 479 W. Forest Avenue, West Chicago, IL - Map
Bartlett 4th of July
7/4/2024 4:00 - 5:30p
We're Back! Come out to the Bartlett 4th of July Fest, meet your friends and bring the whole family for a fun time! Lots of great food, rides and entertainment (Hey! That's Us!). We will be performing songs from The Pretenders along with classic rock favorites!

Rain or shine, they have a HUGE tent with multiple food vendors and ample enough chairs and tables. Bring the kids for the rides after our show!

620 W Stearns Rd in Bartlett, at the corner of Stearns and Bartlett Road - Map
Roscoe Village Burger Fest
7/20/2024 2:15 - 3:30p
Roscoe Village Burger Fest returns for it's 17th mouth-watering year! There are two stages of ROCKIN' music, arts & crafts and the action-packed "kids zone" area. Sizzling hot is the only way to describe this wildly popular windy city food and music street happening.

We will be on the Damen Stage performing our tribute to the Pretenders, rain or shine! A $10 suggested fest donation benefits the invaluable programs and services of the Lakeview Roscoe Village Chamber of Commerce.

Belmont & Damen - 2000 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60618 - Map
Kenosha Tribute Island
8/4/2024 12:00 - 1:30p
Happenings Magazine’s smash-hit event is back, Tribute Island is offering three days and nights of entertainment on the shores of Lake Michigan. Tribute Island is the nation’s largest tribute-band festival. Tribute Island, the cover-band music extravaganza, that has seen thousands flood the city’s lakefront in years past, is returning for three days and nights on five stages featuring more than 50 of the region’s top tribute bands. The entire waterfront property will be transformed into festival grounds.

We will be performing our tribute to the Pretenders.

Check back here for further details and/or check their website - Tribute Island Website

Simmons Island, 5125 6th Avenue, Kenosha, WI 53140 - Map
Tailgaters Bar & Grill
9/1/2023 9:45 - 11:45p
Just Pretending is playing at Tailgaters in Bolingbrook on Friday, September 1st. Grab your friends and have fun ROCKIN’ with us!

Would love to see you!

Tailgaters Sports Bar & Grill, 431 W Boughton Road, Bolingbrook IL Map
(630) 679-1994
Chicago Ribfest
8/20/2023 5:30 - 7:00p
Just Pretending will be performing at Ribfest Chicago, if you ever wanted to experience it, come out when we are playing. We will be on the Berteau stage from 5:30-7:00p. Everyone there will be ROCK'd with all the great Pretenders songs!

Hope to see you there!

Lincoln and Berteau on the Berteau Stage - 4000 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL Map
8/12/2023 8:30 - 11:00p
Come out and see the Karen Hart Band featuring the music of the Power Women of ROCK and Just Pretending performing a tribute to the Pretenders. It's going to be a BLAST!

858 Illinois Rte 59, Bartlett, IL 60103 Map
Bartlett 4th of July
7/2/2023 3:30 - 4:30p
Come out to the Bartlett 4th of July Fest, meet your friends and bring the whole family for a fun time! Lots of great food, rides and entertainment (Hey! That's Us!). We will be performing songs from The Pretenders along with classic rock favorites!

The Parade starts at 1:00 so come at 3:00p to miss the parade traffic!

620 W Stearns Rd in Bartlett, at the corner of Stearns and Bartlett Road. Map
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Previous Appearances


Hover and click to see all the photos!


Demo Songs and Video from our LIVE shows!


What do our customers say about the Karen Hart Band?

Kim Vatis - NBC 5 News Chicago - Taste of Chicago - "Karen! You are all such a blast. We had so much fun meeting you and rocking with you for NBC 5 News at the Taste of Chicago. Not just a great band, but great people. You made our news show. The quick rocker lesson worked. Some people thought I actually played your really cool heart-shaped guitar! Rock On! My best, Kim Vatis NBC 5 News Chicago!"

Kori Chambers - FOX News Chicago - "I love these guys"

Wanda Wells - Taste of Chicago - FOX Stage - "musical splendor is what you get when Karen Hart performs"

Rick Weigand - Northlake Days - "I'm impressed! Great song list, lots of heart."

Julie Rhodes - Woodridge Jubilee - "Thanks for a great performance at Woodridge Jubilee, we all enjoyed the show! Your ninety minute set of rock’n’roll left the audience wanting more. I just love a female fronted rockin’ band."

Rachel Schmit - Batavia Windmill City Fest - "Wanted to drop by your page and thank you for doing such an excellent job with the Windmill City Festival! The feedback was amazing and we can tell you have a lot of loving fans following you~ Great Job!"

Chris Oakley - Carol Stream Fest - "KHB performed a great set of rock n’ roll standards with tight musicianship and soaring vocals to the delight of the crowd. Collectively, the members of the band are all road tested musicians that don’t miss a drum beat or a guitar lick."

John Badway - Winfield Good Old Days - "The Winfield Lion's are not only very grateful for the contribution of your band, but we were very surprised. The level of professionalism, the sound, the musical selections, the execution and delivery made for one good and high energy presentation. The sound engineer also had very good comments. The success of our endeavor in part is certainly attributable to the Karen Hart show. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!"

Adam Vasquez - Wood Dale Park District - "I would recommend the Karen Hart Band to anyone that asked, they really entertained the audience and sounded great."

Debra - "You were great at Plainfield Fest. All of my friends loved you!"

Marty Mardirosian - M&R Rush (Monee Fall Fair Festival)- "What a great band to work with!" "Professional, entertaining and the music was tight - tight - tight!" If I was in charge of entertainment at a festival I would hire The Karen Hart Band in a second!!!"

Mark Busch - "I shot some pictures of your show at Winfield Good Old Days for the local paper... By the way enjoyed the show."

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Call Karen to book your next event!

The Karen Hart Band has been ROCKING audiences at festivals, fairs, concerts, casinos, bars, corporate functions and private parties.

For all inquiries on availability for your venue, contact Karen Hart.
  • Phone: Karen at (630) 445-1580
  • Email:

Tech & Tools

Stage Plot and Promo Material

Karen Hart Band
Karen Hart Band