Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Zep tribute band to revisit California '77 show on anniversary

The California-based tribute band Led Zepagain is scheduled to perform its rendition of a 1977 Led Zeppelin concert 33 years after a six-night string of shows all at the Forum in the Los Angeles area. The tribute act is to perform an all-ages show this Saturday, June 26, at the Grove of Anaheim.

Led Zepagain has performed retrospectives of the concerts from that era for the past two-and-a-half years under the banner of "The '77 Tour Revisited." Guitarist Steve Zukowsky tells Lemon Squeezings the band attempts to keep everything pretty true to the form of those concerts.

"We've got the same outfits," he says. "I've got the white dragon poppy suit that [Jimmy] Page wore, and [drummer] Jim Kersey has the stainless steel drum kit that Bonham used then. We try and make it look like a '77 show and do a typical set list."

Part of Zukowsky's affinity toward the shows of the '77 era was because he attended one in Oakland, California, at age 14. "I had been playing guitar for probably a couple of years at that point. I think I started when I was 12," he says. He said he found the concert to be "just very inspiring -- I remember coming back from that show [saying], 'Man, I've gotta learn how to play "Over the Hills and Far Away."' That was so great."

In January 2004, Zukowsky had the opportunity to turn the tables around and perform for Jimmy Page. The Led Zeppelin guitarist showed up, unannounced, at a Led Zepagain concert in Hollywood. "It was a complete surprise to us," Zukowsky says, laughing.

"After we did our soundcheck [and were] having a bite to eat, we heard that Jimmy had called requesting a table, and, you know, that's the kind of thing where you just think, 'Yeah, right.'" He laughs again. "But, sure enough, after a couple of songs into the show, one of our roadies scribbled 'Page in the house' on a piece of paper and stuck it on a drum platform and pointed to it. Me and Jim Kersey, our drummer, just sort of looked at each other and went, 'Wow. Let's get through this show, you know?'"

Having Jason Bonham sit in with Led Zepagain for an encore in March 2009 was another great experience for the band. Asked whether he thinks he might be on the short list of guitarists being considered for the touring lineup of Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience, Zukowsky says, "Ahhhh, I certainly haven't heard anything, so I would doubt it." Again with the laughter.

"I was actually really glad to hear he's doing something like that to honor his dad. I think it's really cool," he adds. "Reading things on the Internet -- a lot of fans have mixed reactions to it, but I don't think there's anything wrong with it one bit. You know, anything that keeps the music alive and keeps the memory alive, and obviously he has such a strong connection to his dad and what his dad accomplished that I think it's a really cool thing for him to do."

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