Just Pretending Band

About Us

Come out and ROCK with us!

Just Pretending Band

Just Pretending features the music of The Pretenders!

Based out of Chicago, Just Pretending performs an authentic tribute to The Pretenders. The band's focus is on capturing the true essence of The Pretenders playing all of the songs for the enjoyment of an all-age audience.

Just Pretending 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!

Just Pretending brings an incredible tribute show recreating The Pretenders legendary sound to the stage with a powerful rock concert performing all their hits.

Just Pretending is the perfect band for your festival, corporate event, club, private party, wedding, or any special occasion.


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.


Check out our other project...

Performing Classic Rock and the Women of ROCK!


A Tribute to The Pretenders

Just Pretending Band

The Pretenders would never have happened had Chrissie Hynde not have crossed the Atlantic in a move to London in 1973.

As the founding member and lead vocalist, guitarist, and primary songwriter of the English-American rock band The Pretenders, Chrissie Hynde emerged from the British post punk movement and in less than four years was hailed as one of the best guitar-based rock bands in the music scene in both Britain and the US. Hynde's soulful vocals formed a perfect complement to artfully mastered musical lines supplied by the rest of the players in the band. "Kid," "Message of Love," and "Mystery Achievement" are but a few song highlights of the first two albums. By the mid '80s it had become very clear that The Pretenders had become a vehicle for the increasingly talented Hynde. She had broken ground for women in rock and roll not only with her band but collaborating with other famous artists both in music and in film. To name just a few... Stevie Nicks, Rod Stewart, Robert Plant, Ringo Starr, Annie Lennox, Sheryl Crow, Shirley Manson of Garbage, Jason Mraz, Frank Sinatra, Joan Osborn, Jeff Beck, Faith Hill, Cheap Trick, Neil Young, and even John McEnroe, Bruce Willis and Johnny Depp.

In August of 1980 Madonna saw the Pretenders perform in Central Park and is noted to have said "Chrissie was amazing: the only woman I'd seen in performance where I thought, yeah, she's got balls, she's awesome! ... It gave me courage, inspiration, to see a woman with that kind of confidence in a man's world.” Hynde was raised in Akron Ohio, and moved to London in 1973. Despite her early devotion, however, Hynde had to fight her way slowly into the real music world. Between 1973 and 1978, Hynde's determination to become part of a rock band met with only near misses. Despite invitations to various gigs where her peers recognized her as a strong musician/songwriter, none of the men forming bands would accept Hynde as a full-fledged member.

It wasn't until 1978 Chrissie made a demo tape and gave it to Dave Hill, owner of the label Real Records. Hill advised Hynde to take her time and get the right band together, which she accomplished shortly after. The name "The Pretenders" was inspired by the Platters 1955 R&B hit "The Great Pretender."

In 1985 the Pretenders performed at Live Aid as well as collaborating with Ray Davies of the Kinks. She and Davies had a child and then she later married Jim Kerr, lead singer of the band Simple Minds and had her second child.

Music wasn't the only talent Hynde had in her pocket. In 1995, she made an acting appearance as fictional character Stephanie Schiffer on the US television comedy Friends in which she performed "Angel of the Morning" and "Smelly Cat" (which she co-wrote) with Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay on acoustic guitar. She also supplied the voice for Siri, the clouded leopard in the movie Rugrats Go Wild (2003) singing a duet with Bruce Willis.

On April 10, 1999, Hynde and The Pretenders led the memorial concert "Here, There and Everywhere - A Concert for Linda" Chrissie's late close friend Linda McCartney at the Royal Albert Hall, London. Proceeds went to animal rights charities as Hynde is an animal rights activist and a supporter of PETA. Also in 1999, the group performed at the Lilith Fair, a festival centered around female musicians. As an outspoken crusader for PETA, Hynde was arrested in March 2000 in a protest against the Gap clothing store. Although she spent a night in jail, the protest was a success, with the Gap changing its policy toward illegal leather products. That year Hynde also joined Sheryl Crow on vocals and guitar performing "If It Makes You Happy" during a concert in Central Park.

In 2004, Hynde moved to Brazil to play with Brazilian musician Moreno Veloso in an informal tour. In 2005, Hynde duetted with Ringo Starr on a song entitled "Don't Hang Up" which can be heard on Starr's album Choose Love. And the year 2005 proved to be one of the most notable for Chrissie Hynde as she and the Pretenders were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Aside from song writing and rocking stages across the globe, September 8, 2015 Hynde published an autobiography, Reckless: My Life as a Pretender and also released a limited-edition book of her artworks.


Come out and ROCK with us!

Just Pretending Band

Keep checking back with us for upcoming shows or sign up for our email list!

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, 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
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


LIVE Photos

Just Pretending Band
Just Pretending Band
Just Pretending Band
Just Pretending Band


Celebrating the Music of Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders

Just Pretending Band
The Pretenders Catalog
Middle of the Road
Back on the Chain Gang
Mystery Achievment
Talk of the Town
Don't Get Me Wrong
Brass in Pocket
I'll Stand by You
My City was Gone
Message of Love
Cuban Slide
Time the Avenger
The Wait
Night in my Veins
Stop Your Sobbing
Boots of Chinese Plastic
Show Me
Tattooed Love Boys

A Janis Joplin song covered by
The Pretenders
  Piece of my Heart



Demo Video and Demo Songs!


Call or email to book your next event!

  • Email:
  • Phone: (630) 445-1580

Tech & Tools

Stage Plot and Promo Material

Just Pretending
Just Pretending