Carly Johnson
Carly Johnson | Photo by Mickie Winters

When musician Carly Johnson first had the idea for a Heart tribute band, she thought it would be fun to gather some of her fellow musician friends and perform Ann and Nancy Wilson’s vast catalog that spans more than three decades. The fact that the concerts morphed into fundraisers for various charities is a testament to Johnson’s character. Last year, I Heart Heart raised more than $4,000 for Kosair Children Hospital’s Brave Hearts during their Valentine’s show, and this year, they’re doing it again, raising funds for the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.

Once again a Valentine-themed show, “Heart for Lungs” will take over the Mercury Ballroom on Saturday, Feb. 13. Johnson has a knack for rounding up the best of the best, and this time she’ll be joined by talented women Natalie Felker (The Fervor), Cheyenne Mize (Maiden Radio), Sarah Teeple (The Ladybirds), Tory Fisher (Fire the Saddle), Christy O’Connell (Junk Yard Dogs) and Laura Ellis (Billy Goat Strut). Plus, Will Oldham will join the ladies for a duet, and Peter Searcy’s Black Sabbath cover band is slated to open the show.

And we can’t forget about the amazing backing band, comprised of guitarists Craig Wagner (Java Men, Liberation Prophecy); Jeremy Johnson (Your Black Star, Workers); bassist Lee Puckett; keys/synth Steve Sturgill (Bookshelf); drummer Paul Culligan (Days Of The New, Predators); and — new this year — the “Heart Horns” featuring Joey Thieman, Graeme Gardiner and Drew Miller.

Considering you get all that talent on one stage for a $10 donation to charity, it’s quite a deal.

Johnson tells Insider the decision to go with a lung cancer organization as the beneficiary this time was personal. Her best friend, a 31-year-old nonsmoker, was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer from a rare genetic defect.

Cheyenne Mize, Sarah Teeple, Christy O'Connell and Carly Johnson | Courtesy of Carly Johnson
Cheyenne Mize, Sarah Teeple, Christy O’Connell, Carly Johnson and Natalie Felker | Courtesy of Carly Johnson

“It was and has been beyond terrifying to comprehend,” she says. “I just wanted to do something to help. I initially formed the Heart tribute band just to play shows for the sheer fun of it, but it quickly became clear it could serve a greater purpose.”

Johnson’s friend told her about the Addario Lung Cancer Foundation and how it is one of the few patient-driven lung cancer foundations. It not only provides support and resources to those who have been diagnosed, but it boldly seeks to turn lung cancer into a chronically managed disease by 2023.

“Heart for Lungs” starts at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13, at the Mercury Ballroom. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door.

But before that familiar “Barracuda” bass track begins, Johnson answered some very important questions …

What’s the most surprising thing on your Bucket List?

Ooo! To be the voice of a cartoon Disney princess — especially one drawn in the old-school, hand-painted 2-D animation.

Needed more milk?
Needed more milk?

What poster was on your wall in junior high?

I went through a random phase in sixth grade of collecting all of those “Got Milk?” celebrity ads in magazines, so there was an entire wall dedicated to that. (This is extra funny to me now because I don’t eat dairy anymore). I also remember “A Hard Day’s Night” Beatles poster and some Britney Spears and NKOTB posters hanging around.

If you were mayor, to whom would you give the key to the city?

Hands down, the key to the city goes to one of my best friends, Marisa Wittebort, the incredibly beautiful and brave woman we’re playing this Heart show for. She reminds me that every single minute we have is precious and that our precious minutes shouldn’t be wasted worrying about things that aren’t actually worth worrying about … which, comparatively, is almost everything. She represents all of us.

What are your preferred pizza toppings?

Green peppers, onions, extra mushrooms and pineapple.

If you could be any age for a week, what would it be?

Age 4 — it’s before you start to figure out serious and less than ideal things are going on around you and when you still joyfully take off running at any time, for no apparent reason.

Going down?

What famous person do people say you resemble the most?

Hmmm … usually just about anyone who is blonde … the spectrum is comically vast. The most often mentioned celebrity comparison would be Reese Witherspoon. I don’t see it, but I’ll take it. 🙂

Who would you most like to be stuck with in an elevator?

Not John Stamos. Obviously, I would choose to be stuck on an elevator with my amazing husband, Robert. Definitely not John Stamos.

Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."