Big dreams in a small town

Restless Heart to headline annual MSCA annual dinner May 4


Though a Nashville-based band comprised of a handful of Oklahoma natives, Restless Heart’s real home might be Texas. The state’s fan base for the superstars of the late 1980s/early 1990s seemingly refuses to wane, bringing the band – reformed in 2002 after a lengthy hiatus – to multiple trips to Texas.

“I’ve told the guys, ‘see how much fuel we would have saved if we just moved to Texas’,” said Dave Innis, Restless Heart’s keyboardist. “About 20 percent of our dates are in Texas. We’re literally in Texas all the time.”

Restless Heart will headline the Madisonville Sidewalk Cattlemen’s Association 79th Annual Steak Dinner and Dance, May 4 at the MSCA Pavilion. The event will be the fourth Texas stop for the band in a month’s span, with side jaunts to Pennsylvania and Kansas wedged in.

“We are thrilled to have such an award-winning band anchor our Steak Dinner this year,” said MSCA president Brent Viator. Proceeds from the event, which sells individual tickets for $75, fund scholarships for Madison County students.

Gates will open at 5:30 p.m., followed by a 6 p.m. hospitality hour, a dinner and calf show at 7:15 p.m. and the concert at 9 p.m.

Restless Heart came together in 1984 and launched a string of country hits two years later with their album Wheels, featuring “That Rock Won’t Roll” and other songs. By 1992, their song “When She Cries” hit No. 11 on the Billboard Top 100.

In their late 80s/early 90s heyday, the band had tremendous crossover appeal, something that rankled the traditionalist in the country music scene, who tagged the band as “country pop.”

“A lot of people thought we were ruining country music,” Innis said. “But a lot of country acts have had pop success over the years.

“We definitely had some records that opened new doors for us.”

The band toured with Bruce Hornsby and the Range as well as former Eagle Glen Frey, showed up on Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year with the Temptations, and released a tremendous-selling greatest hits package loaded with two new songs in 1991.

Then disbanded for nearly 10 years.

Three members of the band – drummer John Dittrich, bass player Paul Gregg and lead guitarist

Greg Jennings – put out one more album, Matters of the Heart, in 1994, then nobody heard from Restless Heart for eight more years.

Innis, who had left the band in 1993, and the others joined back together and started touring in the early 2000s.

“We’ve actually been back together now for longer than we were together the first time,” Innis said. “It’s kind of a phenomenon we’ve made it this long.”

Restless Heart thrives on its long-standing fan base, playing to the crowd with a heavy selection of their hits and well-known songs. The band knows its audience comes for “The Bluest Eyes in Texas,” not some experimental new song.

“We’re not trying to convince anybody anymore,” Innis joked. “They want to hear the hits and that’s what we want to give them.”