Friday, May 29, 2009

In L.A. for Jimmy Page's movie? Why not pick up John Bonham's gong too!

As of this morning, tickets are currently on sale for films associated with the Los Angeles Film Festival, including for two theater presentations of "It Might Get Loud," starring Jimmy Page along with Jack White and The Edge.

It's only $12 a pop to see the three guitarists rock out "In My Time of Dying" together on the big screen, so you'll have some money left to burn, right?

OK, I'm broke too. But still.

Why not pick up some authentic John Bonham percussion just a traffic jam away?

Bonzo's gong will be up for auction on Sunday, June 14, just in time for the L.A. festival's premiere of "It Might Get Loud" on the 19th.

Yep, it's John Bonham's original gong, as seen in concert. It was made by made by Paiste, but instead of featuring the drum company's logo, it instead depicts a pair of Chinese letters.

James Cartledge reports in the Birminghm Mail that the gong was contributed to the auction by none other than the drummer's younger sister, singer and Atco recording artist Deborah Bonham.

The auction house says the gong's final price will range between $80,000 and $120,000.

Now I know I can't afford it!

That is, not so soon after I just dropped $30,000 for Jimmy Page's stage-used 1971 200-watt Orange MATAMP.

Just kidding, I wasn't the winning buyer on the eBay auction. The buyer's identity was withheld.

Anyway, Bonham's gong is one lot in the Entertainment Memorabilia auction. Advance viewings are being held June 12 and 13, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Bonhams and Butterfields Offices at 7601 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles.

If you're nearby, you ought to check it out.

Oh, and here's something else to look at if you happen to find yourself in the L.A. area with a craving for anything connected to Led Zeppelin.

And I do mean anything.

The photographer behind some candid shots of Robert Plant sporting a Speedo in 1978 is showing that series of photos, and many others, in Los Angeles right now.

Nicholas White of the L.A. Times reports that California-based paparazzo Brad Elterman has an ongoing exhibit of his unauthorized shots of Michael Jackson, Phil Spector, Duran Duran, Joan Jett and more, right on through July 23 in Venice, Calif.

But the ones Elterman took of Robert Plant in 1978 take the cake. The Times article explains:
Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant was playing a game of soccer, wearing a blue Speedo. In the pictures, Plant is angrily pointing his finger toward the camera, shouting.

According to Elterman, after he took the pictures, Plant approached the teen, took his business card and told him that he would never take a picture of the rock star again.

"For a couple days I was scared," Elterman says. "[I heard] that a few days [later] he kind of laughed it off. But I wanted to make this picture. That's the risk you have to make. If you didn't, it would be gone."
So, there's lots to see out west, if you're so endowed.

Endowed? I meant inclined.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tickets on sale Friday for L.A. premiere of 'It Might Get Loud'; Australian debut set for June 3

Music and movie buffs around the world are preparing for some more early screenings of "It Might Get Loud" beginning next week.

The guitar documentary starring Jimmy Page, Jack White and The Edge is destined for theatrical distribution in North America, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Distributor Sony Pictures Classic indicates the film will open in New York and Los Angeles beginning Aug. 14 with other cities to follow shortly thereafter.

For now, Hollywood types will be gearing up to witness the flick's early showings at the Los Angeles Film Festival in mid June.
  • The L.A. premiere is to take place on Friday, June 19, at 7 p.m., at the Mann Festival Theatre.
  • An additional L.A. screening is scheduled for Monday, June 22, at 2 p.m., at the Landmark 8.
  • Tickets for these two Los Angeles Film Festival showings go on sale this Friday, May 29.
  • Ticket queries can be e-mailed here, or call toll-free: (866) 345-6337.
  • Festival passes are already on sale; click here for pricing.
  • "It Might Get Loud" is eligible to receive an audience award for Best Documentary Feature. It will compete against 10 other entrants in the Summer Showcase section for the honor.
By then, "It Might Get Loud" will have already made its Australian debut courtesy of the Sydney Film Festival.
  • Tickets to June 3 and 6 presentations of the guitar documentary with Jimmy Page, Jack White and The Edge are already on sale.
  • The first showing down under is slated for next Wednesday, June 3, at 8 p.m. at Sydney's Greater Union George Street.
  • A second showing at the same location is to follow on Saturday, June 6, also at 8 p.m.
Past screenings of this film since last year have taken place in Toronto and Berlin as well as at Sundance. All three guitarists featured in the movie attended the world premiere in Toronto last September, answering press questions.

The film's segments profiling each guitarist center on his unique approach to the guitar throughout his career. In the case of Jimmy Page, the film presents his first-ever TV appearance, at age 14, and some new music as it is created out of thin air. Two new pieces written and performed by Page -- "Embryo No. 1" and "Embryo No. 2" were created as the filming unfolded.

"Jimmy played us previews of two new tracks he was writing -- both of which actually ended up in the movie," director Davis Guggenheim says on the film's official Web site.

The "Embryo" tracks turn out to be the first new music offered commercially by Page in longer than a decade, despite studio recording sessions that took place 10 years ago this month that he could not persuade Robert Plant to take part in. (Listen to the May 29 episode of "Get the Led Out" for more on these abandoned recording sessions of May 1999, involving Page and the late Michael Lee.)

Another of Guggenheim's favorite "It Might Get Loud" moments involves Page:
We were filming in Jimmy Page’s home outside of London -- which he has never allowed before -- and he starts pulling out his favorite albums and playing them for us. These are the records that he listened to and learned from as a young musician. Just watching him listen to the records was incredible -- and then he started playing air guitar!
In writing for the Toronto Film Festival, Thom Powers also mentioned this moment:
Contrary to the stereotype that rock 'n' rollers are sullen and guarded, these three display an infectious joy when discussing their craft. Anyone who has ever played air guitar along with a Zeppelin song will be thrilled watching Page mimic the licks of one of his own favourites, Link Wray's "Rumble."
A member of Internet discussion group Royal Orleans, ajoso, wrote the following upon seeing the film in Toronto:
The film had a lot of humor and made me laugh with delight on more than one occasion. ... When Jimmy shows the riff to "Whole Lotta Love" to Jack & the Edge, the latter two are grinning like: "I can't believe I'm two feet away from Jimmy Page playing 'Whole Lotta Love'!"

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Jason Bonham to perform at Drumfest in U.K.; date follows four other June/July appearances

Jason Bonham has been announced as one of the participants at Drumfest, to be held July 12 in Birmingham, England.

The day-long event comprises one part of the National Rock and Pop Festival '09, along with Guitarfest on July 11 and Stick It to Multiple Sclerosis on July 13.

Alongside Bonham, another big name appearing at Drumfest is Carmine Appice. As drummer for the Vanilla Fudge, he became a great friend of John Bonham's during Led Zeppelin's earliest concerts in North America.

The Drumfest Web site says, "The biggest names in drums will be performing on the main stage from 12am until 5pm." Other drummers announced for the event are Gregg Bissonette, JoJo Mayer, and Simon Phillips of Toto.

This summer date of Jason Bonham's takes place after his other scheduled performances in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. This includes one with Slash, Ozzy Osbourne and Ronnie Wood at the Quart Festival in Norway on June 30, and also three dates with the band Airrace on June 19, July 4 and July 5, all in England.

Robert Plant spotted in crowd watching Scott Matthews

Robert Plant was spotted among Scott Matthews fans who turned up to see the singer-songwriter's sold-out tour opener, at the Glee Club in Birmingham, England, on May 19.

Matthews, who opened for Plant and Alison Krauss last year on their tour of Europe, dropped his latest album, Elsewhere, in the U.K. on Monday, with a single called "Fractured." The album has a U.S. release date of June 2.

As mentioned here months ago, Plant guests on one album track, "12 Harps," which bears a resemblance to the Simon and Garfunkel take on "Scarborough Fair."

Plant did not sit in at the Birmingham concert, which Rita Maman of the Express and Star reports was a gesture "allowing the singer songwriter to enjoy his deserved place in the spotlight alone."

Midlands entertainment reporter Dave Freak, however, couldn't resist typing up a lot about Plant's guest vocal on the album. He writes:

... album highlight "12 Harps," featuring a guest appearance by Robert Plant, is a drifting slice of gentle psychedelic British folk-rock.

"We sent Robert the track as he was rehearsing in Texas. He got back and said he was really up for it, and two months later we got him into the studio. It really worked, singing together in the same room. We sat in the studio, jamming, and that made me more relaxed, it was like karaoke," Matthews laughs.

"We got the song together in two hours. We kept one of the early takes, to get that spontaneous thing. I think it’ll be a track that'll appeal to a lot of people. It’s very much in the Led Zep mold. I still shake my head when I hear it. How did I pull that off?"

It's a subtle performance from Plant, currently in the throes of a creative renaissance since 2005’s Mighty ReArranger, 2007’s lauded Raising Sand, with Alison Krauss, and Led Zeppelin’s all too brief reunion.

"One thing that struck me about Robert's voice is how natural it is. He doesn't explore the high register anymore, I was interested in the baritone of it, that Johnny Cash resonance. I worked with that softer element of my voice too, and the two tones work together, that's why the song is so good," Matthews says.

The Led Zepper was an early fan of the songwriter after [producer Gavin] Monaghan invited Plant to his studio to hear a few tracks. The singer was so impressed with Matthews that he insisted he open the European leg of his Raising Sand tour with Krauss.

"I started shaking when he asked me, personally," Matthews recalls of an impromptu phone call. "Me? Supporting my idol? He's such a down to earth guy, which speaks volumes about him personally. He makes you feel welcome. And he's one of the best singers around – no-one is better than him. When you hear Led Zep I, II and III, the raw energy in his voice is frightening."

Elsewhere is the second new disc this year to feature guest vocals from Robert Plant. He also sings with Buddy Miller on one track gracing the album Written in Chalk by Buddy and his wife Judy Miller.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Led Zeppelin's first reunion with Jason Bonham remembered

A special edition of "On This Day In Led Zeppelin History" went out today, the first in a while. In it, I wrote about the show that happened 21 years today, honoring Atlantic Records on the occasion of its 40th birthday. More to the point, it was the second time Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones played together in a concert setting since the death of John Bonham -- and it also happened to be their first concert outing with Jason Bonham on drums. So, I included a clip of an interview conducted earlier this year with Mark Stein of the Vanilla Fudge. Here's the video of that interview related to the Atlantic Records concert, never seen or heard before today.

Portions of the same interview have been aired earlier this year on "Get the Led Out XL," to which I gladly contribute. The radio show started up in January on the 40th anniversary of Led Zeppelin's debut album being released. We've been doing a "this day in Led Zeppelin history" type of thing on daily installments of the show since then, and today's edition includes a never-heard-before audio interview with Chris Squire, Yes bassist, comparing Jason Bonham's performances at the Led Zeppelin reunion shows in 1988 and 2007. (He's much more keen on the most recent show.)

There are a lot of good interviews we've been putting on that show lately. We just aired a full hour episode with Led Zeppelin publicist Danny Goldberg. Earlier this month, I arranged for author Dave Lewis to interview Zep's old tour manager, Richard Cole. I just got the audio back on that one yesterday, so stay tuned for that. Check with your local radio station to see if they already "Get the Led Out" with Carol Miller.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Guitar documentary with Jimmy Page to screen at L.A. Film Festival

The much-talked about "It Might Get Loud" guitar documentary starring Jimmy Page is part of the upcoming Summer Showcase just announced for the Los Angeles Film Festival taking place next month.

Ten other films round out the Summer Showcase's full lineup, and they will compete for three audience awards: Best International Feature, Best Narrative Feature, and Best Documentary Feature.

Details on individual film screenings have yet to be announced, and movie tickets will go on sale to the general public on May 29. First, festival passes will go on sale to the general public on May 18. The festival takes place June 18-28.

"It Might Get Loud," directed by Davis Guggenheim, has previously been screened at film festivals in Toronto and Berlin and at Sundance. The L.A. Film Festival would mark the flick's second festival appearance in the United States, where it is scheduled to open in theaters on Aug. 21. It is also to be distributed to other countries this summer.

As portrayed in the movie, a soundstage in Los Angeles provides the setting for the arranged first-ever meeting of Page and fellow guitarists The Edge and Jack White. The three guitarists jam on the songs "I Will Follow," "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground," "The Weight" and "In My Time of Dying."

In other segments, Page is shown creating and performing original pieces called "Embryo No. 1" and "Embryo No. 2." The film crew also follows Page to Headley Grange, the mansion where parts of three Led Zeppelin albums were recorded. There, Page discusses the recording techniques used on the songs "Stairway to Heaven" and "When the Levee Breaks."

Update, May 14: The reel is also headed to Australia's Sydney Film Festival, to be held June 3-14. Tickets are already on sale.