Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Aerosmith guitarist says Page trying to motivate Plant to return to Zeppelin

Guitarist Brad Whitford of Aerosmith, in an appearance today on the syndicated "Todd n Tyler Radio Empire," explained what bandmate Steven Tyler was doing in England with Jimmy Page.

"First of all, they did it for fun," said Whitford, who plans to tour with Aerosmith again beginning in March 2009. His comments were the first from the Aerosmith stable confirming a report published Saturday in England's Daily Mail that mentioned Tyler's jam session with Page and Led Zeppelin bandmates John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham.

Whitford brought up Aerosmith's history of playing with Page and his own particular admiration of Page as a guitarist. He then speculated as to the message Page and the others may have been trying to relate to Robert Plant by way of the media.

"I actually think Jimmy wanted Steven to come over and play a little bit because, I think, he was trying to light a fire under Robert," Whitford said. "Come on! Come on, Robert, let's go!"

Plant announced in September in a message on his official Web site that he has no intention of touring or recording with Led Zeppelin for the next two years.

The "Todd n Tyler Radio Empire" interviewers asked Whitford if, out of all the singers in the world, Steven Tyler is one of the most intimidating Page and company could have brought in to motivate Plant. Whitford's answer was as short as it needed to be: "Yes, absolutely."

The program also conducted an interview with Danny Goldberg, who worked with Led Zeppelin's organization for three years in the mid 1970s. In that interview, Goldberg said he believes Plant will come around and play with Led Zeppelin again someday, even if it is two or three years from now.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Led Zeppelin won't exist without Plant, insists Harvey Goldsmith

Promoter Harvey Goldsmith said if Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones go on tour with Jason Bonham and some singer other than Robert Plant, they would likely not call it Led Zeppelin.

The founder of Harvey Goldsmith Presents, who promoted Led Zeppelin concerts in the 1970s and last year's one-off reunion, spoke this morning as a panelist in the keynote session at Musexpo Europe 2008, held at the Cumberland Hotel in London. He was quoted in a BBC News report by Ian Youngs.

Goldsmith's remarks, some given privately to BBC News and others delivered as part of the keynote, are carried in the article:
"I certainly don't think they should do a big tour because I can't see the point of it. ... I doubt it will be called Led Zeppelin. ... I just think it's a lot of talk, I think it's wishful thinking. Whether they all come together and do something in the future, they may. I think some of the band really want to go out and do it and other parts of the band need to understand why they're doing it, and if there's no compelling reason to do it, then they shouldn't do it. I think that there is an opportunity for them to go out and present themselves. I don't think a long rambling tour is the answer as Led Zeppelin. ... It's a question of whether they want to do it, and you've got to want to do it. Otherwise it's done for the wrong reasons, and when things are done for the wrong reasons, they don't work."
Current media speculation is that Led Zeppelin will reunite without Robert Plant. Media insist John Paul Jones said this will happen.

However, remarks Jones made over the weekend never included an assertion that his project with Page, Bonham and any yet-to-be-identified singer (or singers) would be called Led Zeppelin.

Jones has said, notably, that he doesn't want his new project to become a Led Zeppelin tribute act. In an interview broadcast by BBC Radio Devon on Oct. 27, Jones said:
"It's gotta be right, you know. Just trying to recreate -- or just find another Robert, I mean, you could just pick somebody out of a tribute band. I mean, what's the point of that, you know? We don't want to be our own tribute band."

New album and tour may surface, John Paul Jones tells BBC Radio Devon

BBC Radio Devon caught up with John Paul Jones at the Mansons Guitar Show in Exeter on Oct. 26. "The Late Show," hosted by Vic Morgan, broadcast the full interview with Jones last night.

Jones commented on Led Zeppelin's one-off concert at the O2 Arena in London this past December:

"It was wonderful, it was wonderful. It was a combination of a lot of hard work. We worked really, really hard. It wasn't just a matter of getting through the show and just hoping that people hearing the songs again would carry us through. We were determined to give a really top-of-the-line performance. And you've got to be so familiar with it all again and then move on to the next level. And it was very important to us that we did that, and we did it. I think we pulled it off. We put a tremendous amount of work in it, a lot of focus on that one show."
He then confirmed that an album and tour could be in the works once the lineup with Jimmy Page, Jason Bonham and a new singer is firmed up. Jones added that this project is taking priority over the solo album he announced years ago would be his follow-up to The Thunderthief, released in 2002.

Some things to notice from this:
  • Jones never said the project will be called Led Zeppelin. The talk of replacing Robert Plant may be off-base. They may simply be auditioning singers for a new, separate band consisted of two original members of Led Zeppelin and the son of a third.
  • Jones says an album and tour will follow. How does this differ from Jimmy Page's most recent comments on the subject, delivered last month, in which he denied media speculation? I always took Page's comments to mean there would be no album or tour, yet here's Jonesy saying there will be both. The only distinction is, again, whether it would be called Led Zeppelin or not.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Vocal auditions continue; Alter Bridge singer would juggle bands, bandmate says

The search for a new singer to join Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham is on, sources including Jones himself have confirmed either publicly or to news organizations.

Jones said as recently as yesterday that no one singer had been identified for his project with the other musicians. He did say the new music is loud and has been enjoyable for everyone involved.

His comments, delivered Sunday, were the first to come directly from any of the musicians after Robert Plant announced he had no intention of touring or recording with the others despite having joined up with them in December at Led Zeppelin's only full concert in over 27 years.

Two days ago, England's Daily Mail reported that Steven Tyler had been rehearsing with Page, Jones and Bonham, citing an anonymous source. Jones, in his spoken comments the following day, did not allude to any particular singers but said an announcement would be made only after a decision is made.

One oft-cited possible singer for Page, Jones and Bonham is Myles Kennedy, who is currently the vocalist for Alter Bridge, a Florida-based rock group that is scheduled to tour the United Kingdom and mainland Europe in November and December. This will include an early date, Nov. 8, in the Led Zeppelin base of London, that will be filmed for a DVD release. (This development is somewhat reminiscent to me of the Foo Fighters shows in London that were released on DVD earlier this year with an encore set including Page and Jones. I'm not saying history will repeat itself; I'm just saying it crossed my mind.)

For the first several weeks, none of Alter Bridge's members were known to be addressing the longstanding rumors of Kennedy's possible selection to join Page, Jones and Bonham. Guitarist Mark Tremonti has broken the silence in an interview published in Kerrang magazine, revealing that Kennedy would remain a member of Alter Bridge during time off with the British musicians. Tremonti says he welcomes the attention Alter Bridge would gain if Kennedy were to tour in some capacity with Page, Jones and Bonham.

Tremonti, a former member of Creed, formed Alter Bridge in 2004 with two other former Creed members and selected as their new singer Kennedy, who was singing for West Coast group the Mayfield Four. It was with a brief singing and acting role in the 2001 film "Rock Star" that Kennedy made his theatrical debut, giving him his first-ever connection to Bonham, who played drums for the movie's fictional band.

While Kennedy has not directly commented on his rumored link to Page, Jones and Bonham rehearsals, he did recently write on his official blog that he has been composing new music that could be used for a project other than Alter Bridge. He did not elaborate on what that project might be.

In August, Bonham became the first of the bunch to reveal he had been jamming with Page and Jones in England. Page offered sparse words early in September tempering media speculation that a Led Zeppelin tour or album was a certainty. Plant's announcement that he did not intend to participate in any Led Zeppelin activities followed at the end of the month, which coincidentally included the 40th anniversary of Led Zeppelin's first concert.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Loud music on the way, says John Paul Jones

What's keeping Robert Plant away from reuniting Led Zeppelin comes down to the music, John Paul Jones said Sunday.

Speaking before a crowd during a question-and-answer session in Exeter, England, Jones addressed for the first time reports of rehearsals involving Jimmy Page, Jason Bonham and himself.

A YouTube video of the Mansons Guitar Show workshop has Jones saying he and the others are working on "loud music." They hope to announce something soon, he said, "because we really want to do it."

As for what singer (or singers) would be involved, Jones told the crowd, "I'm afraid there's no final answer yet."

The audience member asking Jones the question did not invoke the names of any of the singers mentioned as having been involved during the rehearsal stage, nor did Jones volunteer any particular names.

He did, however, confirm that "the odd singer" has often been involved and that they are enjoying playing together. He praised Bonham's creativity and repeated that they are "really having a lot of fun, just rehearsing."

At first, Jones playfully responded to the question by issuing his own: "Who wants to know?" And after providing his full answer, he decided against taking any follow-up questions, opting instead to play some music. The audience reaction apparent in the video was not one of disappointment.

"As soon as we know, which we don't, we will let you know," said Jones. He re-emphasized this point in his closing, adding, "When it does come, it'll come, and you'll know about it."

The big difference between this trio and Plant, according to Jones, is the style of music now they want to play. "We really want to do something, and Robert doesn't want to do this sort of thing -- at least for the moment," he said. "I don't really know what his plans are."

"He doesn't want to make loud music anymore," Jones said of Plant. "I mean, I like acoustic music. I love acoustic music, but it really doesn't stop me liking turning something up and just smashing the hell out of it."

Oh, you mean like TVs?

"We really hope that something's going to happen soon because we really want to do it," said Jones.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Steven Tyler rumor aired on eve of John Paul Jones Q&A

A public question-and-answer session with John Paul Jones scheduled to take place tomorrow just got more interesting.

It has been quiet since the statement by Jimmy Page that his jam sessions with Jones and Jason Bonham were not as monumental as the press had been making them out to be. At the time, media reports speculated about a Led Zeppelin album or tour already under works.

But that was before Robert Plant said he had no intentions of taking part in either an album or tour. And it was also before rumors spread placing the other rehearsing Led Zeppelin bandmates in the midst of a singer other than Plant.

Names like Myles Kennedy and Jack White have been touted in the press, but not a word on the subject has been uttered by Page, Jones or Bonham. It has been a while since any of them elaborated on it, and Jones in particular has been the least vocal in recent months.

But the quiet one is about to open his mouth. Jones is slotted to take questions during the event. Surely, not everything people want to know from Jones at this point has to do with instruments and strings and tunings. Especially not when the latest singer rumored to be jamming with the Zeppelin trio sans Plant is none other than Steven Tyler of Aerosmith!

What will Jones say tomorrow if asked to confirm or deny the rumors of his involvement with Page and Bonham and another singer? The question has been ready since the Mansons Guitar Shop in Exeter, England, announced Jones's participation a few weeks back in workshop taking place this weekend.

Perhaps the level of interest will be much higher thanks to the latest rumor about what has been going on behind closed doors and what might be around the corner.

An unnamed source has apparently told the Daily Mail that Tyler has spent a few days rehearsing with the others. As reported only one day before the Q&A with Jones, the source says, "Steve was jamming with Zep. They had a great time but Steve kept fluffing his lines. He got quite flustered about it."

Tyler has long admitted to being a huge fan of Led Zeppelin -- and also of Page's earlier band, the Yardbirds. The Boston band was founded in the early 1970s while Zep had just taken off. Aerosmith recorded "Train Kept A-Rollin'," which was a cover the Yardbirds used to play and had been resurrected in concert by Led Zeppelin in the band's early days. Page sat in with Aerosmith in 1990 while the group played London.

After Tyler inducted Zeppelin into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, he and Aerosmith's Joe Perry sat in with Bonham, Jones, Page and Plant for a few songs.

Tyler also narrated the hour-long program "Legends" for VH-1 that focused on Led Zeppelin.

It is likely that during tomorrow's question-and-answer session, Jones will be prompted to address publicly for the first time the rumors he and the others involved with Led Zeppelin have been jamming with singers. Even if no decision has been reached as to what project may come out of the jamming, the opportunity to talk about Tyler or Kennedy will be there for Jones, should he choose to.

Kennedy, who fronts the band Alter Bridge and also plays guitar in addition to sporting a wild vocal range, has not commented on reports spread by Britain's The Sun and elsewhere that he has been musically involved with Jones, Page and Bonham.

Jones may have to tell all. The day of reckoning is upon us. This is tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow ...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

John Paul Jones, Rayna Gellert featured on album released today

The voices of John Paul Jones and Rayna Gellert are backed by a subtle drone instrumentation in their song that opens the album Help Me to Sing: Songs of the Sacred Harp. Here is a 30-second audio clip of Jones singing "Blooming Youth" with Gellert, who is one of the four women in Uncle Earl.

The photograph of them together is from their appearance together at MerleFest on April 28, 2007.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Denials begin to surface on reports of Led Zeppelin tour without Robert Plant

Some reporters, following up on rumors of a possible Led Zeppelin reunion in the works with Robert Plant being replaced, are saying they are being told that is not what is going to happen.

OK, now pay attention. What exactly are they being told is either not possible or hasn't been confirmed?

Jason Gregory, who has been pursuing Led Zeppelin reunion rumors for Gigwise, writes that he obtained such a statement when speaking on background with a source connected to American singer-guitarist Jack White. The source, said to have spoken on condition of anonymity, told Gregory, "I do not believe you can have a band called Led Zeppelin, singing Zeppelin songs, without Plant."

Gregory writes that the comment was designed by White's camp to distance the singer from speculation that he could be taking Plant's place in a reunited Led Zeppelin. That's one way of looking at it. Another way says that a band could be in the works that would not be called Led Zeppelin.

Anonymity was also invoked when MTV News reporter Chris Harris had an insider address the issue of a reunion, as he reports. Harris writes that "a source close to Led Zeppelin" denied press reports of a Led Zeppelin reunion with Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge on vocals instead of Plant. As quoted in the news item, the source tells Harris, "They are just rumors. Nothing has been confirmed at all. There's been no talk of a Zeppelin tour!"

Harris seems to interpret that as a denial of Kennedy's involvement in rehearsals with Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham. The reporter seems to dismiss the idea of the Alter Bridge singer joining the members of Led Zeppelin based on it being such a remote possibility and utterly far-fetched.

Harris first doesn't realize that the insider who gave him that quote could have been more accurately identified as a source close to Page, a source close to Jones, a source close to Bonham, or whatever the case may be. Led Zeppelin isn't a working band per se, so its people are working with the individual people who were members of that band when it existed. R-r-right?

In the same way, the source's comment that there is "no talk of a Zeppelin tour" has the same ring to it as the statement from White's camp to Gigwise. A band could be forming with Kennedy or White on vocals, and that much of the rumor would be true. But the rumor can be dismissed as false because they're addressing the possibility of that resulting band being called Led Zeppelin.

Hmmmm. I'm seeing a pattern here. Ask about a band called Led Zeppelin with a singer other than Plant, and you get the answer that it's not going to happen.

Then what about the crux of the rumors, that Page, Jones and Bonham have been doing something together to bide the time while Plant was unavailable? Take your band called Led Zeppelin out of the equation, and you might be on to something!

Maybe these reporters ought to go back to their respective sources and ask the question over again but this time not attach the name Led Zeppelin to it. See if the answer changes!

Incidentally, Harris of MTV News also notes that "Kennedy is not available for a five-minute phone interview." He even tried to contact the people surrounding Twisted Sister singer Dee Snider, who last week was shown online explaining that Kennedy had been rehearsing with Page, Jones and Bonham and would be singing on tour with them if Plant did not want to. No call back from Snider's folks, Harris writes.

An interview with Plant and Alison Krauss aired this weekend on the CBS News program "Sunday Morning." It was recorded over a month ago, while the two were in New York on their tour, and it included Plant blowing off a question about whether he would reunite with Led Zeppelin.

When asked the question, Plant first jokingly attempted to change the subject by commenting on the look of interviewer Katie Couric. He then provided the answer that a Zeppelin reunion was so far from his mind while touring with Krauss that he didn't even have the time to ponder the idea.

Since then, Plant issued a statement in the tour's closing days that he would not participate in a Led Zeppelin reunion tour or any tour, or even record with Led Zeppelin, for the next two years.

Friday, October 10, 2008

British tabloid outs Myles Kennedy as mystery singer

The unnamed source who was informant for some leaked information to British tabloid The Sun over the past few weeks is now using the name Myles Kennedy.

See here for the story, which doesn't add much to our knowledge.

Hmmm, wasn't this so-called source already pretty much discredited? After all, this is the source that erroneously said Robert Plant had agreed to participating on a Led Zeppelin reunion tour when he really hadn't.

I would be pretty embarrassed about having been the sole source to provide such a mistaken detail. I would offer some word of explanation if not retraction. This source doesn't.

But interesting nonetheless. Just like we've been suspecting: Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham have been rehearsing with Myles Kennedy, the source says.

Still no official word from the guys themselves though. We expect to hear that word soon.

Sara Watkins goes solo under tutelage of John Paul Jones

John Paul Jones was playing at a bluegrass festival a few years ago when he said to the female member of Nickel Creek that he wanted to produce her solo album if she ever made one.

That's the way Sara Watkins recalls it went down. In an interview on Sept. 30 for the News Times in Danbury, Conn., the unsuspecting 26-year-old said she didn't know back then if Jones had any intention of following through.

Well, he has. Jones made good on that promise during some month-long sessions in Los Angeles this February, adding his magic touch much the same way he did in 2006 for the sophomore release by Uncle Earl. On both albums, he not only produces but also sits in on certain tracks.

On Watkins's solo debut album is a backing band with some famous musicians. Benmont Tench of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers plays keyboards, and Gillian Welch links up to play some guitar. The record, whose title is not yet firm, is expected to drop early next year. In Asheville, N.C., the Xpress has passed on that the album is to contain self-penned pop songs described as sounding like "a softer Neko Case" and "much like Alison Krauss's new album."

Watkins takes her band and her new act on the road tonight for the first time billed under her own name. The singer and multi-instrumentalist opens for Donavon Frankenreiter on a brief tour of North America that is to continue all into November. Check here for tour dates.

In the past, Watkins has held a weekly gig called the Watkins Family Hour at Largo, her home base in Los Angeles, where she has welcomed many onstage special guest musicians. That steady gig was in addition to her many outings with Nickel Creek over the past 10 years.

As reported in the New Yorker on May 19, Jones guested on bass at one Watkins Family Hour earlier this year, while he was still in Los Angeles just after completing the album. Over the summer of 2004, Jones toured the United States playing bass and mandolin for a touring lineup called Mutual Admiration Society that included Watkins.

For more information, see news articles in Danbury News Times and Xpress or visit Watkins's official Web site.

Myles Kennedy sidesteps rumors of involvement with Page, Jones

Myles Kennedy, the American singer and guitarist who has been rumored for weeks to have been sitting in with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones in rehearsals, has offered no comment on the speculation.

In a blog post on the site of his band Alter Bridge two days ago, Kennedy speaks of his daily routine as going in a studio to write new material. He says he has been very creative this autumn and that he has determined some of his new music would work better in a separate project other than Alter Bridge. That Florida-based group is scheduled to tour the U.K. and mainland Europe in November and December.

Jones and Page have so far been absolutely mum on the rumors that they have employed an American singer to rehearse with them. Kennedy's blog post on Oct. 8 is his first in months; in it, he confirms for his fans that he is still alive. But just like Page and Jones, he maintains silence on the well-publicized rumors that have brought his name to a more widespread attention.

Through deductive reasoning, this indicates one of two things:

  1. The rumor is true: Kennedy has been sitting in with Page, Jones and Jason Bonham too. However, he can't reveal it because has been sworn to secrecy; an official announcement from Page and Jones is yet to come.
  2. The rumor is false, and Kennedy doesn't mind the attention. By keeping the rumor alive, he benefits from continuing to receive the increased attention and intrigue that inherently comes with his name being linked to the greatest band of all time.

So, we know nothing more than what we did already, and we still just have to wait for the official word from the major players involved.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Disturbing silence: No official word on future plans of Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones

What are Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones up to? Would somebody please get an answer out of these two?

It's no secret that Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones have been keen on playing together since the one-off Led Zeppelin concert in December. In fact, that's about all either has said in regard to their working relationship. They got to work together onstage again in June when they ran through some of their own classic Led Zeppelin material at a Foo Fighters show.

That guest appearance was only the beginning of the Led Zeppelin story of 2008 unfolding and changing at a rate not matched since the band was last planning to travel the globe in 1980, a blast-off that mislaunched when John Bonham died.

The next plot twist this summer was when Bonham's son, Jason Bonham, revealed that he had been jamming with Page and Jones -- on new material, no less. Then came the rumors a tabloid printed that the three were planning a Led Zeppelin tour with or without Robert Plant as singer. That was quickly followed up with a source allegedly saying Plant was in, which Plant himself officially denied within days.

Concurrent to these developments, the name Myles Kennedy entered the mix. The singer-guitarist of Alter Bridge, Kennedy was mentioned semi-legitimately among Zeppelin fans as a possible new bandmate for Page, Jones and Bonham. Repeating that scenario this week was Dee Snider, singer of Twisted Sister, relating what he had heard as a music-business insider who shares the same management as Robert Plant. Snider explained that if Plant would turn down a lucrative offer to team up again with his former bandmates, then Page and Jones had someone hand-picked and ready to take the reins, and his name was Myles Kennedy.

All throughout this dramatic series of twists and turns, Jones especially has been the least vocal. As to what is truly happening behind all the rumors and suggestions, the most reliable answer would of course come from either him or Page. Page did comment once that all the popular speculation about Led Zeppelin recording an album was off-base, but he didn't have much to say about what the truth really was.

That was before any talk of Myles Kennedy entered the public discussion, and a lot has changed since then. If the rumors of Kennedy's association with Page, Jones and Bonham have been patently untrue, why haven't fans and reporters been alerted?

Even a more pressing question is this: If it is indeed true that this singer has been jamming with Page, Jones and Bonham, and has long-term plans with them, then why hasn't anybody involved spoken up officially to confirm it?

Is it possible that his involvement is merely a ploy by which Page and Jones are aiming to coerce a jealous Plant into working with them again? What an unfortunate a case it would be for Kennedy if his role in this is only that of a pawn: Bring him into the fold, rehearse with him and collaborate with him, tout his name to Plant, and then dump him if Plant reconsiders.

I don't like thinking up conspiracy theories, but I wouldn't have to do that if only we could hear something from either Jones or Page.

Jones is scheduled to participate in a question-and-answer session on Sunday, Oct. 26, in England. Two weeks from now, I really hope we won't still be asking the same questions that we are today. At that event, Jones is supposed to be talking about musical equipment and technology anyway: The two-day event is Manson's Guitar Show, to be held at the Riverside Leisure Centre, with tickets onsale here.

How embarrassing would it be for Jones if so many of people attending were Led Zeppelin fans who paid the meager ticket price of £8 for one day or £12 for both only so they could hound Jones with questions about his future plans? Imagine Jones wanting to discuss any of the instruments made for him by Mansons personnel, brothers Hugh and Andy Manson, only to face a ferocious throng of inquiring single-track minds hoping to be appeased.

Jones can keep this scenario from becoming reality by breaking his silence in the next two weeks. And he shouldn't wait until the day before so he can avoid having to say, "This is tomorrow-tomorrow-tomorrow-tomorrow ..."

Pardon me -- sidetracked: Also worthy of note is another of the guests scheduled to be there: "Big" Jim Sullivan, who shares the credit with Jimmy Page as being one of England's top two session guitarists in the 1960s. Jones was also one of the main studio musicians at that time, so those two would certainly have some old stories to enjoy sharing.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Robert Plant on two-year abstention from touring as of today

If Robert Plant wasn't lying or exaggerating when he issued a statement last week, then he won't be on tour again for at least two years from today.

The 60-year-old's self-imposed embargo of long road trips officially began at midnight today, shortly after taking his final bows on the stage of the Mountain Winery in Saratoga, Calif. This Oct. 5 show with Alison Krauss, T Bone Burnett and other bluegrass musicians signalled the conclusion of an international working escapade that has dominated Plant's time since April.

In last week's proclamation, Plant publicly shattered, in no uncertain terms, any possibility of his reuniting Led Zeppelin for a tour or even any recording. In part, the statement released on Plant's behalf reads: "Robert has no intention whatsoever of touring with anyone for at least the next two years. Contrary to a spate of recent reports, Robert Plant will not be touring or recording with Led Zeppelin."

Still thinking Led Zeppelin could reunite in 2010? Let's see: Two years from today, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones will be three months away from their 67th and 65th birthdays, respectively. Sure, they might still be viable musicians then, but they're said to be pursuing their own individual projects in the meantime, if not making some collaborative effort. Why would they wait two years for their friend to make himself available?

Maybe Plant intends to spend a couple years acting more like a typical grandfather. Or maybe he has something musical on the table that will take two years of planning. Who knows? He didn't specify any particular justification for his decision this time, although in September 2007 he did say he was looking forward to starting to go to sleep earlier once he stopped touring.

Whatever Plant's two-year outlook may be, his announcement marked the first time in years he used unequivocal terms to address the topic of his intentions with Led Zeppelin. His interviews have seldom conveyed moments of clarity. The least vague he has been in an interview was in July when he remarked to Beverly Keel of The Tennessean, "Could Led Zeppelin play together? Of course they could, but why? And for what? That is the question." It was a hint of the decision to come.

But the official declaration of that decision came in late September as his tour with Krauss was winding down, and just after British tabloid The Sun posted a story attributing exactly the opposite decision to Plant. The report had allowed fans all over the world reason to believe that a Led Zeppelin tour was already a certainty.

Plant is not to blame for the last straw, the one in which a tipster to The Sun erroneously said Plant's consent was in the bag and the other musicians involved were overjoyed. And Plant is certainly welcome to choose what he does and does not want to do onstage and in the studio.

But Plant's decision stands in stark contrast to some of his less ambiguous comments to the media in recent years when he spoke of Led Zeppelin.

The most egregious that comes to mind is the one published in the Dec. 13, 2007, issue of Rolling Stone, in which he tells David Fricke in a November interview how enthusiastic he'd been while rehearsing with Page, Jones and Jason Bonham for their one-off concert in London. "I never wanted to do it," Plant said at the time. "Now I want to do nothing else. How about that?"

If being wishy-washy were an offense worthy of capital punishment, Plant would be swingin' on the gallows pole.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Robert Plant honors T Bone Burnett as Raising Sand receives award for sound

T Bone Burnett was honored twice today at the 24th Annual Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards.

First, he was inducted into the TECnology Hall of Fame following a poetic speech by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss that was sure to make his cheeks blush.

Later, their Raising Sand album, which Burnett produced, won its bid for an award in the category of Record Production/Album.

Sharing in the award for Raising Sand are all the people who worked on the recording in Nashville and Los Angeles:

Recording Engineers: Stacy Parrish, Mike Piersante, Jason Wormer
Mixing Engineer: Mike Piersante
Producer: T-Bone Burnett
Mastering Engineer: Gavin Lurssen

To induct Burnett, Plant and Krauss provided their flattering words about the man who produced their album and has continued to guide their onstage collaboration.

Plant and Krauss approached their shared podium to the tune of the house band's instrumental "Rich Woman," the opening track of their album and each one of their concerts. Then they spoke:
Plant: "Thank you. T Bone Burnett is excited and surprised. His eyes blink in feigned revelation. His head jerks, and a roar of healing laughter ricochets through the backstage corridors of the world we've come to share. T Bone Burnett is a crazy, glorious hybrid: part Fort Worth frat rocker, part sidekick to the Minnesota Judas. A teller of tales often as tall as the mountains, which yielded up their almost lost treasures to soundtrack and sidetrack. The teller of tales who recently led the great B.B. King back to his original mojo, back to his seminal how and why, back to Blind Lemon, Lightnin' Hopkins and Charlie Patton, to induce performances hardly imaginable in today's celebrity-sodden recording sessions for our senior heroes. The teller of tales who delicately wove the gifts of the bluegrass princess with the prince from the misty mountains --"

[Audience laughs and claps.]

Plant: "Hold it -- dressed in a long robe and playing a re
d toy piano."

Krauss: "T Bone Burnett is restless and questing, a whirlwind of profound opinions of social responsibility, frustrated and angered by his country's political corruption and blind mismanagement."

[Audiences cheers.]

Krauss: "And T Bone Burnett is almost always, always there for almost everyone."

[Audience laughs.]

Krauss: "Tonight, his music, a salute to his years of eager learning and to passion and detail, salute to his recall and experien

Plant: "Salute to the library of congress installed neatly between his ears. Salute to his microphone placement."

[Audience laughs.]

Plant: "Salute to his manmade management and riotous assemblies. To his Blue Glow and his Grey Goose."

[Audience laughs.]

Krauss: "Salute to his remarkable conviction. Who else could convince me to sing songs beginning with, 'Once I had myself a good woman'?"

[Audience laughs and claps.]

Krauss: "Thank you."

Plant: "Forget gender; think art! And to his own provocative and beautiful music, which constantly asks questions framed and draped by his dark, compelling soundscapes. And, you know, music with all its rewards, joys and frustrations is just a fraction of what's going on behind those two eyes up there."

Krauss: "I am never happier than when I sing for T Bone Burnett. I'm delighted by his choices, his process, and then what appears after he's called his invisible shots."

Plant: "For me, T Bone is the last train home, the one you'd given up upon, the one you thought you'd missed forever, the last connection to all the golden inspiration that led me to this room tonight. T Bone!"

[Audience bursts into appla
use, and the house band plays the presenters off.]

Burnett also addressed those gathered at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, saying the honor "came completely out of left field for me."

The award for Raising Sand prompted more words from Burnett and then even more from Plant, who appeared eager to step up and command any microphone as soon as he politely could.

That's when he alluded to his first tour of America, back in 1968 and 1969, when he was singing for Led Zeppelin. It was less than two weeks into 1969 that the band performed at San Francisco's Fillmore West for the first time.

"Somebody mentioned the Fillmore in 1968 [sic]," said Plant, to the crowd's amusement.
"There were no monitors, no plug-ins, none of this s---. I don't know how you can justify being here. You have no right! What happened to the human voice? Go out and get yourself a box set called Dust to Digital. Check it out.

"But on a serious note, of course, you're all very important -- I've only just become American, so I'm [just] learning this bulls---, you know. I'm gonna be a maverick when I grow up!

"After me and Alison made this speech, I started drinking, but I can't tell you.

"Seriously, Alison and these guys
[Burnett and the mixing and mastering engineers present], they're -- you know, Alison said, 'You'll like 'em.' And I was frightened by them. Mike [Piersante], you know, he sat through all the Grey Goose and the Blue Glow and all the cellphones for weeks and me getting twitchy. And these guys are spectacular -- Gavin [Lurssen], T Bone, everybody. I mean, I'm so pleased to be Mid-Atlantic."

About the TEC awards:

Founded in 1985, the Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards is the foremost program recognizing the achievements of audio professionals. Presented annually by the Mix Foundation for Excellence in Audio, the TEC Awards honor the individuals, companies and technical innovations behind the sound of recordings, films, TV shows and live performances.