Go-Go’s bassist Kathy Valentine celebrates the band’s music in a new way on stage

Ron Baker / Flickr

Texas Standard | By Laura Rice | May 9, 2023 2:16 PM CDT

Kathy Valentine didn’t know how to play the bass when she joined the 1980s sensation The Go-Go’s, so signing up for something she’s never done before doesn’t scare her. That’s why, when she heard the ZACH Theatre in her hometown of Austin was working on a production of the musical “Head Over Heels,” she signed right up.

“I was like, ‘Hmm, I’m a Go-Go, I’m in Austin – maybe I can help kind of make it a little bit of a more special run,” Valentine said.

“Head Over Heels” is a jukebox musical, meaning almost all of the songs are from a well-known artist or band – in this case, that’s The Go-Go’s. It had a run on Broadway in 2018.

“And we all loved it. The band was really proud of it,” Valentine said. “And it’s not anything when I started playing music that I ever, ever dreamt of or expected or even hoped for; it just wasn’t on my radar at all. But we loved the message, the story. We liked that it wasn’t the story of the band, but it just used our material in a completely different way.”

The storyline follows a royal family and is based on the 16th century prose “The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia.” Valentine says the pairing works because of the timelessness of The Go-Gos’ songs.

“I mean, we came out in 1981 with our debut album, and we still hear these songs on the radio. You still hear them in television shows; you hear them licensed for all kinds of stuff,” Valentine said. “And it’s because it really does bypass a trend or a sound.”

As musical director for “Head Over Heels,” Valentine is putting together a band and performing in each show.

“I’ll be playing bass. I’ll be in every performance, you know, God willing,” Valentine said.

She said as she gets older, she loves to keep finding new ways to push herself.

“As I’ve gotten into my 60s, the more new, scary, challenging, hard things that I take on kind of keeps me feeling vital,” Valentine said. “And in that little, like, walking the edge a little, which is kind of what young people do.”

So will the future include another tour of The Go-Go’s? Valentine said she is always open to that.

“I like the idea of, you know, paving the way for women that get older, still being, you know, we still rock really, really, really well,” Valentine said.

“Head Over Heels” is at Austin’s ZACH Theatre beginning Aug. 9.

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