Music News & Reviews

Band answers Wichita fan's YouTube pleas

All year, Heather Bloomgren has made it known just how badly she wants her favorite band — United Kingdom pop/funk outfit Level 42 — to perform in the United States for the first time in 22 years.

The Wichita resident's outlet has been a series of humorous and inventive videos — including some recent offerings with a holiday theme — posted on YouTube that have shown the world just how rabid her devotion to the band is.

But while Santa hasn't provided the band's presence here, Level 42 frontman Mark King has made up for it with his own gift.

The singer and bassist made his own song and video postcard specifically for Bloomgren. And King's version of "All I Want For Christmas Is You" — dedicated to Bloomgren — is quickly becoming a YouTube favorite this holiday season.

"I was blown away," said Bloomgren, 39. "I couldn't believe that Mark King would appease a mere fan like me in such a way.

"He went way above and beyond. There are really no words for that."

King, 51, was made aware of Bloomgren's videos through the band's Web site, www.level42.com, and he said the video tributes "really made me smile."

"It was such a lot of work, and they were so well done," King said.

So when King learned that Bloomgren was working on a Christmas video of her continuing campaign to get the band stateside, he dusted off an unfinished version of the holiday song made famous by Mariah Carey and shot his own video of the previously unheard track in front of his Christmas tree in his home on the Isle of Wight. He sent it to her earlier this month.

"I covered the song in 2005 as an experiment for a mate who asked if we had any Christmas songs for a compilation," King recalls. "But like the teenager that I still am at heart, I lost interest halfway through and never finished it off.

"So I remembered the song and cobbled the video together."

Bloomgren was elated. The feedback she has gotten from her friends — who helped her with the videos — and from Level 42 fans around the world has been astounding.

"I love their music so much," she said. "But it really helps when the musicians you're so into appreciate their fans."

Level 42, driven by King's percussive slap bass lines, has sold more than 30 million records and is known for its 1980s hits "Something About You" and "Lessons in Love."

While their popularity was limited in the United States, the band remains a viable touring act today in Europe and will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2010 with a UK tour and possibly a new album.

King, in musician's circles, also remains known as one of the world's top bass players.

As for fulfilling Bloomgren's dream of playing a show in the United States, King said: "We'd all come back to the States in a heartbeat, but we need a promoter to bring us over again, and I haven't had an offer in years. "

Bloomgren says she's still working on it. She's put together a Facebook group page called "Level 42: North America Showin' Them the Love" to gain support for her cause.

And she understands she may have to travel to New York or Los Angeles if it means catching Level 42 in the U.S.

"I know there's a bottom line," she said. "I've spoken to promoters myself.

"Hopefully, someday they'll come back over here because I've never seen them live. And that's what I wish for most."

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