Sunday, January 24, 2010

Highlights from Them Crooked Vultures in Melbourne

Lemon Squeezings satellite reporter Nina McLean wrote the following after seeing Them Crooked Vultures in concert on Friday, Jan. 22, in Melbourne, Australia:
The 90-minute set was incredibly tight. Interestingly, the only mistake I heard was one that Jonesy made in the middle of a piano solo that was in "Spinning in Daffodils." Hilarious! He just seemed to lose what he was playing for a moment. The piano solo itself had most people in the audience sniggering, it may as well have come straight from the middle of "No Quarter," quite obviously on purpose. I was having trouble deciding whether I should be laughing or crying and eventually settled on a combination of the two.

In the middle of "Mind Eraser, No Chaser," Josh and Jonesy swapped sides on stage, very cool. They ran into problems however, when Jonesy had to sing backing vocals in the chorus and discovered that he couldn't reach Josh's microphone, it was waaaaay higher than our man was able to get. Everyone had a bit of a laugh about this, Jonesy included.

It was strange hearing Josh actually SING in "Interlude with Ludes." He tends to kind of shout or speak the lyrics, clearly singing isn't high on his list of priorities, and more power to him for that. But, in "Interlude with Ludes" he really cranks out some high notes that sound utterly bizarre coming from such a big bloke. It was hilarious seeing him and Jonesy stand close to each other; the former could have ripped the latter in two!

There was an extended jam in the middle of "Warsaw" in which, get this, both Jonesy and Josh stood up on their respective sides of the drum riser and played facing Dave. At this point the roar from the crowd was so loud that I'm fairly sure that the roof came off for a few moments.

Josh gave it up to both Dave and Jonesy a couple of times during the set, although both times Jonesy was referred to as "John Paul F***ing Jones." I had no idea that he'd taken on another name. Live and learn, I guess!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Texas Pop Festival '69 attendee raises money for historical marker saluting event

The last date of Led Zeppelin's summer 1969 tour came as a surprise to the members of Led Zeppelin. Booking the band at the Texas International Pop Festival on Aug. 31 was tour manager Richard Cole's idea, and he hadn't yet gotten word to singer Robert Plant when he was advising an audience in Dallas not to buy tickets to the festival believing ads that said Led Zeppelin would be there. Plant said those ads were incorrect, and that the band would be back home in England at the end of August.

The promoter who was listening to Plant's comments was not happy.

Find out the rest of this story in this latest installment of the interview series, as told by Richard Hayner, who is writing a book on the festival.

Hayner attended the Texas Pop Festival over Labor Day weekend 1969, and he now collects memorabilia from the event as well as stories of others like him.

It was held the same month as Woodstock but two weekends later. It doesn't have the same iconic cultural impact as Woodstock, and it probably never will, even despite all the similarities between the two.

The Merry Pranksters were at both festivals with Ken Kesey's magic bus, Further.

Hugh Romney and the Hog Farmers were at both, too, although purists will be quick to inform you it was at the Texas Pop Festival that Romney received his nickname, Wavy Gravy, from B.B. King.

One difference between the two festivals? Woodstock didn't have Led Zeppelin. The bragging rights go to the town of Lewisville, Texas, which did host Led Zeppelin at the Texas International Pop Festival.

The book Hayner has vowed to complete this year is only one way he is trying to raise the profile of the concert, whose 40th anniversary recently passed without much ado. Hayner says many who live in the Dallas area today are completely unaware that another Woodstock-era festival was held locally.

To change that, he's arranging for the state to award a historical marker to memorialize the Texas International Pop Festival. He's hopeful it will be placed strategically at a location near the original site where it can be observed by many waiting for trains at a soon-to-be-opened commuter rail station.

To raise the requisite funds associated with a state historical marker, Hayner has arranged an all-day concert event to be held Jan. 31 at the Flying Pig Roadhouse in nearby Lake Dallas, Texas.

The show will feature the Led Zeppelin tribute band Swan Song, and other acts playing the music of festival performers Santana and Janis Joplin, as well as a headlining set by Texas guitar legend Johnny Nitzinger, who was an attendee at the festival.

There will be door prizes, a raffle, and a tour of Hayner's own Furthermore bus, painted to resemble Kesey's original Further, which today rests in peace inside a swamp where it was parked (away from the reach of the Smithsonian Institution -- you know, The Man).

Proceeds are to go toward funding the historical marker and, ultimately, a plaque featuring artwork from the festival.

For ticketing information, visit

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Vultures' new U.S. tour dates include John Paul Jones's 'SNL' debut

Plans announced today by Them Crooked Vultures see the band returning to the United States next month. They've been scheduling concert dates and even a live TV segment in addition to their recently announced festival appearance in Southern California this April.

Upcoming U.S. television appearances
  • Feb. 6 at 11:30 p.m. Eastern: "Saturday Night Live," NBC
  • Feb. 13: "Austin City Limits," PBS (check local listings)
Dave Grohl has performed on "Saturday Night Live" five times as part of musical guests Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, and Josh Homme was also on the set at 30 Rockefeller Plaza once with Queens of the Stone Age. Both will return as members of Them Crooked Vultures, booked to appear on the Feb. 6 episode hosted by Ashton Kutcher, but the band member with the longest career will be making his "SNL" debut that night.

John Paul Jones has never appeared on NBC's long-running "Saturday Night Live," which debuted halfway between the releases of Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti and Presence.

That band wasn't into TV spots, but his new band is no stranger to cameras. Them Crooked Vultures already played "Austin City Limits," which is scheduled to be broadcast Feb. 13 on PBS. In addition to an appearance on the U.K.'s "Friday Night with Jonathan Ross," they've also allowed their full stage shows in England, Germany and France to be shot and broadcast.

Upcoming U.S. live dates
  • Feb. 8: Roseland Ballroom, New York, N.Y. - Tickets New!
  • Feb. 10: The Fillmore, Charlotte, N.C. - Tickets
  • Feb. 11: The Tabernacle, Atlanta, Ga. - Tickets New!
  • April 16: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival - Tickets
The first tour date Them Crooked Vultures announced today is at the Fillmore in Charlotte, N.C., on Feb. 10. Tickets, which go on sale this Saturday at 10 a.m., can be purchased here.

The band promises there will be "More dates to follow." Update: Two more dates were announced on Friday, Jan. 22: New York on Feb. 8 and Atlanta on Feb. 11. Tickets for those dates, which also go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m., can be purchased here.

Reports from the road

Three shows left in Australia, and then it's on to New Zealand!
  • Jan. 22: Festival Hall, Melbourne, Australia - Tickets
  • Jan. 25: Riverstage, Brisbane, Australia - Tickets
  • Jan. 26: Hodern Pavilion, Sydney, Australia - Tickets
  • Jan. 29: TSB Bank Arena, Wellington, New Zealand - Tickets
  • Jan. 30: Vector Arena, Auckland, New Zealand - Tickets
Here are excerpts from a review of the opening night's concert in Perth, Australia:
The lead singer got the stiff crowd moving at the end by thrashing around the stage – an amazing feat given how tight his jeans were.

But the crowd were definitely saving themselves for the big guns and couldn't control their excitement when the time came. ...

John Paul Jones strutted around the stage with his bass like the legend that he is. The majority of the crowd would not have had the pleasure of seeing Zepplin live, and this was definitely the next best thing. Jones moves like a true rock god and drew the biggest cheers from the crowd.

Here's a portion of a John Paul Jones interview getting New Zealand's rock fans in the proper frame of mind:
"We can talk about Zeppelin. That's no problem. But I think you're going to want to hear about Crooked Vultures. It's the most excited I've been about a band in a very long time. ...

"We just wanted to jam; just sit in the room and play. And that's what we did. And it's been incredibly easy, and that, I think, has been part of the magic of this. We're all having fun."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Conan sticks it to NBC with some Led Zeppelin: Watch the video!

If you ever find yourself hosting a late-night talk show while you're at odds with the network it's being carried on, don't forget there are ways to get back at the network while you're on the way.

For an example, look no further than last night's "Tonight Show" and Conan O'Brien's reaction to his house band playing "Misty Mountain Hop" from Led Zeppelin's fourth album when returning from a commercial.

"It costs the network a lot of money when we play Zeppelin," the spurned host said from his desk, then launching into uproarious laughter and even knocking over the microphone on his desk.

Ah, sweet, sweet revenge.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Jason Bonham's new band issues press release has already reported on the formation of Black Country, and drummer Jason Bonham commented in an interview with HarmonyCentral on the progress of the group's early demo rehearsals:
"We've done six tracks so far. We're gonna go back in in March, do another four days, and hopefully have it out sometime at the end of the year."

Singer and bassist Glenn Hughes has been providing frequent status updates on the progress of the band via Twitter, beginning as producer Kevin Shirley was working on a remix of Deep Purple's 1975 album Come Taste the Band:
  • Dec. 31: "On my way to Malibu, where Kevin Shirley is remixing Come Taste The Band... 010 is gonna start off with a BANG!!! GH"
  • Jan. 3: "The new Band has now runnin' is a spectacle...with the most amazin' orgasm for the mind!!!! GH"
  • Jan. 4: "The new Band is a MINDBLOWER... I Repeat A MINDBLOWER.... GH"
  • Jan. 7: "We have recorded 6 basic trax with live scratch vocals...I wrote a new song last nite...of the Epic is the year of the Songs..GH"
  • Jan. 13: "And the rumours keep spreadin' about our Band... Songs:Music comes first.. Haven't been this excited since Joinin' Purple..GH"
  • Jan. 17: "Wow!...Joe and I had an amazin' writin' session..3 songs were demo'd.. This is a Real Rock Record...GH"
And once Bonham had broken the official silence with an interview for Spinner published Jan. 13, guitarist Joe Bonamassa entered the Twitter fray, issuing his own 140-character-or-less statements on the band:
  • Jan. 15: "So it is out of the bag... I am in a band again.. Really cool bunch of guys who are so good. The first tracks are really great.."
  • Early on Jan. 18: "Listening to the new band... Its funny its been 15 years since I was in a band. Bloodline vids are surfacing, its all meant to be. Rock!!!"
  • Late on Jan. 18: "Great day of Creating Rockqqqqqqq!! with my mate Glenn!.. Thanks to Rick and Howard for the great hang in Agoura.."

Now, Bonamassa's record label has issued a press release about the band, but the only quotations in it are from Shirley, who wrote in his online diary on Jan. 14 about the act:
They are all the very best players in the world, for my money!

Jason Bonham (Led Zeppelin, Foreigner) is a totally unique drummer and a supreme, yet oh-so-tasty powerhouse. Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Billy Idol, Alice Cooper) is super versatile, and is playing mostly overdriven Hammond organ in this ensemble and is the color on the palette. Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Trapeze) plays bass and sings with a range VERY, VERY few can even get close to, and Joe Bonamassa, perhaps the best Blues guitarist around, plays hard riffing guitar as well as adding his signature vocals alongside Glenn. You'll just have to wait - we're planning to get this out late summer, and it's promising to be phenomenal! Perhaps if you're around San Bernadino about March 17.........

The blog "Rock Guitar Daily with Tony Conley" yesterday focused on what Black Country might sound like. Here are some selections:
"The world may finally get what it's never received from Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker's ill-fated attempts at reliving the promise of Cream over the years, or Purple's post-Blackmore progression. Black Country could be the new champion of progressive rock and blues. Having Kevin Shirley behind the mixing console is a great sign. Having Jason Bonham onboard - great sign. My assuption [sic] is that these two stalwarts will push the duo firmly in the direction of rock. ...

"I'm placing much of my faith on the fact that Derek Sherinian, a fantastic keyboard player, is being used to largely play the role of a latter day Jon Lord. This tells me that the Purple vibe is being carefully considered, and that could be very cool, indeed. The combination of this with Kevin Shirley's vast experience as a producer and engineer tells me volumes about this project.

"My prediction is that this will be the sleeper of the year. We'll see, won't we....coming in late summer, 2010."

After reading this piece, Hughes tweeted, "Whoah, this guy get's it, cool!"

The band may provide a new sonic outlet for Led Zeppelin fans who were unconvinced by Them Crooked Vultures in 2009. Conley writes:
"If I have a problem with Them Crooked Vultures, it's in the realm of songcraft. Granted it's only my view, but I wish Grohl's sense of melody and structure had more strongly figured into their equation. I'm a song guy, and in the song category, I don't hear myself humming any Vultures tunes yet. My guess is that Bonamassa's more simple blues based sound will combine with Hughes's ultra-sophisticated take on rock and funk, and come to an agreement somewhere in the middle taking both to a higher level. If I'm right, we may have a monster on our hands. Here's hoping they exceed beyond all expectations."

New Them Crooked Vultures U.S. festival date announced as band takes on Australia

TCV in Perth on Twitpic
John Paul Jones has just played in Australia for the first time in nearly 38 years. The opening show of Them Crooked Vultures tour, at Perth's Challenge Stadium, was Jones's first show there since February 1972. The first show is now complete, and the next city on the band's itinerary is Melbourne, where they're set to play three two shows.

While there were no further concert dates scheduled for Them Crooked Vultures beyond the current tour of Australia and New Zealand, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California announced its lineup this morning, placing Them Crooked Vultures on the bill for April 16, where the band is to co-headline the opening date along with LCD Soundsystem under rapper Jay-Z.

Jimmy Page confirms he'll return to Beijing for Show of Peace: 'I am just a musician and a guitarist at this concert'

Jimmy Page confirms in a new interview with China Daily that he intends to perform at the Show of Peace to be held in Beijing on April 17.

Separate confirmation of his plans to perform at the concert had been provided to by a trusted source close to Page late Monday night.

Both confirmations appear to have settled earlier dispute over confirmations of his booking.

Page, who appeared in person at the Jan. 13 press conference in Beijing announcing the concert, was somewhat forthcoming in speaking with China Daily about his decision to play the show:
"It's such a noble concert, for peace. When you hear of something like this, you sure want to be part of it. ...

I am just a musician and a guitarist at this concert. ...

"Now, music is a fashionable thing. But a long, long way back, when I did music 40 years ago, the musical delivery was a communication among people. I think that is also the energy of this concert: for peace is to talk with people via music."

The communications company representing the concert organizer told on Friday it was unable to confirm any artists that may have been booked, including Page.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

How to nail the drum intro to 'Rock and Roll'

When counting out the drum part to the Led Zeppelin song "Rock and Roll" in 4/4, it starts on "the and of three." That's all you need to know.

There. Done. NEXT!

A little over two years ago, I was at a time in my life when I was playing band gigs often. It was never a secret within my bands that their keyboard player was a huge Led Zeppelin fan. Some bandmates of mine even dared to venture onto "On This Day In Led Zeppelin History" or "Led Zeppelin News" once or twice to test the waters and see just how deep my appreciation for the band actually runs.

But they were always quite surprised that whenever they suggested covering a Led Zeppelin song, I was the first to veto it. Why? We were covering a bunch of other songs from the era: "Don't Fear the Reaper," "Riders on the Storm," "Limelight," etc. Why was I so hesitant to incorporate something from my favorite band? Well, it's simply because I didn't want Led Zeppelin songs to be played incorrectly or to rock less than the original. More on that reasoning here.

It's just like when Get the Led Out tribute band guitarist Paul Hammond told me in Part Two of my interview series with him:
"Anybody, any guitarist who's half decent, can jam their way through a Zeppelin song. I've done that in the past. At clubs, when somebody says, 'Hey, can you do this?' or 'Can you do that?' I'm like, 'Oh, I know the structure of the song, I'll get my way through it.' But it's not really doing it the way it should be done, at least as far as from the Get the Led Out perspective."
When Jason Bonham sat in with Chickenfoot on Dec. 5, he may have very well done a commendable job replicating his father's drum intro to "Rock and Roll." And bassist Michael Anthony had his eyes on Bonham the whole time, probably hoping to get some cue as to when to come in. But never mind coming in on the right beat as, on the other side of the stage, Joe Satriani, as proficient a guitar player as he is, just decided he would come in whenever he damn well pleased.

Here's one video source of their onstage jam, but it doesn't show the complete drum intro.

This alternate video source of their onstage jam shows the complete drum intro, which is marred by Chickenfoot drummer Chad Smith on rhythm guitar because he's striking a chord when Bonham starts off at Smith's drum kit (a kit both drummers help to destroy a few minutes later):

No, it wasn't a train wreck. Sammy Hagar may have been a bit tequila-fueled. Chad Smith looks like he, too, was feeling no pain. And when your guitarist comes in too early, it takes only a microsecond to adjust to the guitar player, during which most people in the audience will be completely unaware of any mistake. But at the same time, there are people -- many of them elitist drummers -- who know better and who will be waiting for the train wreck. Some will even blame it on the drummer for not accenting the right beats to cue the rest of the band.

Here's an instructional video posted online Friday explaining that the beginning of John Bonham's drum intro starts on "the and of three" as would be counted.

First, think:
"one and two and three."
Then, the drummer plays:
Now, count the rest:
Finally, the guitar riff comes in, and you're home free. The most difficult part of the song is over. From there, you can go out and have as good a time as Chickenfoot did.

Even the guy in this instructional video, Nicholas Kirk, messes up the counting while he's explaining it, but it's close enough that you should be able to get the gist.

Kirk writes:
"For years I've played this song, and on every occasion listened in terror as the drummer played the intro to his/her liking, never minding the actual rhythm Mr. Bonham wrote. ¡NO MAS!"
It's funny that Kirk uses "Run, Run Rudolph" by Chuck Berry to explain his point. Sure, that works perfectly. Kirk may not realize it, but Bonham was actually playing the drum intro to "Keep A-Knockin'" from a Little Richard recording in 1957. That also starts on "the and of three." Check it out, and you can tell more easily from the accents in the Little Richard drummer's playing that he's starting on "the and of three."

So, Whitestone posts this video, and one of the comments left on the page is from an R Carelson, who writes:
"When we play this song I just shorten it a tad , start the pattern on 1, tell the band..4 bars.. start on 1, …no train wreck!"
Sure, but that's missing the point. This is a prime example of someone who doesn't understanding the timing and doesn't bother to get it right. It's easier to make a slight alteration to avoid the train wreck. If you start playing on beat one, you have a two-measure intro and everybody comes in on one. How convenient! But that's not playing it right; that's playing it to your liking.

As a result of the above video and explanation, musicians should now be able to understand that the drum intro to "Rock and Roll" is two full measures plus another beat and a half before it. So to count it, start counting at one on the fourth tap of the cymbals.

Here's my challenge to anybody who's been in a band playing it wrong before. Film your next rehearsal. And during that rehearsal, explain to your bandmates how the drum intro starts. Film their A-HA! moment. And if they don't get it, well, then, I'm sorry, they should just quit your band and go join Chickenfoot.

Think of it this way. "Rock and Roll" was written out of a haphazard jam and recorded right on the spot by Led Zeppelin plus special guest Ian "Stu" Stewart on piano, at the mansion Headley Grange. Here's how John Paul Jones described how the track came about during a radio interview on "The Scott Muni Show" on New York's Q104.3 in 2002:
"We were in this huge, great room, which was really echoey, and Bonzo was just so loud in this room 'cause he's a really heavy player, and it's just the brightness of the room. It was so loud, we said, 'Look, man. No offense, but do you mind if we push your drums out into the hall?' There's this big stairwell, and we just like -- we carted his drums out. 'Now you stay out there, and we'll listen to you on headphones' while we try and get this -- because you couldn't think.

"And so, he started playing. We said, 'Wow! That sounds great out there!' Because it was a stairway with two landings or something like this in this big, old house -- no furniture, nothing, no drapes, no carpets, it was just. And, so we thought, get some mics out there quick! And we put one mic above him, 10 feet above him, and another mic 20 feet above. And there's no mic on the kick drum, no mic lower on the drums at all, and that was '[When] the Levee Breaks.' That was the sound of 'When the Levee Breaks.' A huge bass drum, and it's just like the sheer power of this man bouncing off the walls and, you know, being caught by way overhead mics.

"And, I think we were talking, I can't remember, we were working out some song, or we were thinking about some song, I don't know what, and -- and -- we'd forgotten he was out there. And, I think, just to wake us up, he started
[imitates drum sound] and just went into what was to be the intro of 'Rock and Roll.'"
Led Zeppelin didn't rehearse it over and over to nail the timing, nor should anybody have to who's trying to learn it. Simply know the counting, and you should be able to nail it.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tribute band Get the Led Out hopes to organize charity gig

Things have been going rather well for Get the Led Out, the Philadelphia-based Led Zeppelin tribute band that welcomed some very special guests onstage when they played New York last week -- so well, in fact, that the band has some lofty goals.

For one thing, guitarist Paul Hammond has expressed interest in expanding beyond their current gigs up and down the I-95 corridor and taking their show overseas.

"We want to travel the act, and we'd like to go overseas," says Hammond. "We're trying to further the act and take it to more people, and as of right now, we have hit some major cities, so we're very happy that we can do Philadelphia at the Electric Factory, we can do Baltimore [at] the Ram's Head Live, New York [at the] Nokia Theater, Boston [at the] House of Blues."

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dissent persists over Jimmy Page's booking at Beijing concert

Public relations spokespeople representing the organizer of the Show of Peace concert say they are not sure whether or not artists including Jimmy Page and Aerosmith have actually been booked to perform at the concert scheduled to be held in Beijing this April.

ZZYX Entertainment, the creator and executive producer for the Show of Peace concert, expects to make an official announcement within the next few weeks about what artists have been booked to perform at the concert. In the meantime, the communications firm representing ZZYX is unable to confirm or deny any individual artist bookings, company spokespeople say.

This came to light when double checked on a spokesperson's earlier disclosure that Page had been "definitely confirmed" to perform at the show. Classic Rock Magazine has posted a story stating that neither Aerosmith nor Page has been booked to appear at the concert.

Page appeared Wednesday at a press conference in Beijing during which some acts performing were said to have been announced. Similarly, Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry appeared at the concert in a televised statement saying he is willing to support the concert in any way possible.

Some media outlets have evidently interpreted Perry's statement as saying that his splintered band would appear at the concert, either with or without singer Steven Tyler. Aerosmith's official Web site refutes this, saying:
Reports that Aerosmith are performing at ‘The Show Of Peace Concert’ in Beijing are erroneous, but Joe Perry will be there taking part in the event.
As for Page's statement, one spokesperson representing ZZYX said he personally had assumed, based on Page's statements at the press conference, that the Led Zeppelin guitarist had been booked to appear in April. That spokesperson says he has since realized that Page may have been only demonstrating his support for the concert without having any intention of playing at it. is particularly sensitive to the mission of reporting accurately whether or not Page will actually perform at the concert since the last time he appeared anywhere with a plugged-in electric guitar in hand was at a charity benefit in November, when he strummed a single guitar chord only once during the whole of his appearance. However, Page has said in a handful of recent interviews that he intends to present new music in a live setting this year.

Update, Jan. 18: A trusted source tells that Jimmy Page will indeed play the Show of Peace in Beijing, as originally reported, while organizers remain unable to confirm headlining acts.

Special guests sit in as Led Zeppelin tribute band jams on Aerosmith, Ted Nugent

When you play a show in New York, you can expect some special guests show up. That's exactly what happened when Philadelphia-based Led Zeppelin tribute band Get the Led Out played the Nokia Theater in Times Square one week ago, on Jimmy Page's birthday.

Their Jan. 9 show saw the presence of a few special guests, which even spilled over onto the stage. Singer and guitarist Derek St. Holmes joined Get the Led Out during the show to jam out on Ted Nugent's memorable solo from "Stranglehold."

Also joining them for that song was Graham Whitford, the son of Aerosmith's Brad Whitford. The young guitarist, whose father once recorded an album with St. Holmes, traded licks on "Stranglehold" and also shared the lead on "Sweet Emotion."

Before the show, caught up with Get the Led Out singer Paul Sinclair, who discussed his affection for Aerosmith, particularly Steven Tyler, who with Robert Plant is one of two singers he's often told he resembles in terms of his singing style and stage presence.

"Those are the two vocalists that I spent my life focusing on, so I guess when I decided I was gonna be a rock singer and, you know, to hell with college or whatever else, the reason was because I had such a passion and love for that music that Steven Tyler and Robert Plant had involvement with," Sinclair said. "So I just immersed myself in that stuff, so I guess you could call me a two-trick pony."

Listen to part one of my interviews with Get the Led Out singer Paul Sinclair and guitarist Paul Hammond here.
Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

Update: Part two, in which Sinclair and Hammond discuss the genre of Led Zeppelin imitators and various trends in rock music, is also available.
Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Jimmy Page receives U.N. award while announcing he will perform at Beijing concert

Update, Jan. 15: The headline above and the text of this article reflect a confirmation made to that Jimmy Page was "definitely confirmed" as a performer at the Show of Peace concert in Beijing on April 17. One day later, that confirmation was retracted by the same spokesperson on the basis that bookings cannot be confirmed until a further statement is issued in a few more weeks.
Update, Jan. 18: A trusted source tells that Jimmy Page will indeed play the Show of Peace in Beijing, as originally reported, while organizers remain unable to confirm headlining acts.

While Jimmy Page was announcing Wednesday he would perform at this April's Show of Peace concert in Beijing, the United Nations' Pathways to Peace also recognized the Led Zeppelin guitarist in presenting its first-ever award.

"We've been asked to give awards over the years but never have done so until this day," said Michael Johnson, a representative of the nongovernmental organization. "We're doing this because musicians have a global impact on the world, and we also know that people who use their name and fame for peace building need to be honored."

"Although this award has my name on it," said Page, "this is a tribute to the power of music and its positive effect. Music has been the most powerful language to reach the hearts of people around the world. During my career, I've experienced the connection and harmony that music can bring."

The press conference, held Wednesday in Beijing, took place primarily to announce some of the acts taking part during the free concert scheduled for April 17.

Page is chief among the acts now scheduled to appear, alongside the band Aerosmith and modern acts such as the Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga. Tens of thousands are expected in person to witness the show, and television and Internet broadcasts will allow billions more live spectators.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

All former members of Led Zeppelin gearing up for new projects

This is a big time for news featuring Led Zeppelin members. Let's get right to it.

John Paul Jones and the other members of Them Crooked Vultures start their tour of Australia and New Zealand next week. The first show is on Tuesday, Jan. 19. In the meantime, the band today offered in their e-mail newsletter an exclusive promo code for a 10% discount on new merchandise purchased through their online store. Between now and Jan. 18, just enter DOLESSGETMORE at the time of checkout to save on a new line of products including the iVulture iPhone case. Just in case you needed a reminder of what a Them Crooked Vultures show is like, you can watch their entire performance filmed in a TV studio in Paris last month. Don't forget, too, they're planning on getting a second album ready soon.

Jimmy Page was in Beijing today to announce his support of the upcoming Show of Peace concert. Reports from the press conference have so far been unclear as to whether Page actually said he would be performing at the April 17 show or merely supporting the event's mission. is definitely seeking clarification on this point because, for instance, Page did not play guitar when he held a fundraiser in Brazil two months ago. However, he has been stating repeatedly in interviews that he intends to be seen in 2010 and presenting new music he's recorded. Maybe that means he has some great new pop songs he'll be performing with Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas onstage in Beijing.

Jason Bonham has confirmed reports that he has been involved in a supergroup recording with producer Kevin Shirley. Bonham tells Spinner that the group is called Black Country and consists of guitarist Joe Bonamassa, along with singer/bassist Glenn Hughes, formerly of both Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. A separate report says the group also includes Derek Sherinian, who has played keyboards for Dream Theater, among other acts. Bonham tells Spinner:
"I just literally went into the studio last week for two days with one person I'd done an album with before, very quickly [Joe Bonamassa]. And then the other was a friend of my father's I got to meet later on [Glenn Hughes]. ... And we're working on a new project with a working title of Black Country. ... We just went in with Kevin Shirley and played riffs and just jammed for two days. And that's really exciting."
That leaves Robert Plant, who hasn't said publicly what his plans are for 2010 -- other than worrying about incontinence, of course. However, two of Plant's gigs last October were with Buddy Miller, who performs tonight at the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville along with Marc Ribot and Bill Frisell. For now, the three amigos are playing one show only, but plans may change as the trio is said to be "fresh from a collaborative recording session" and performing songs from their upcoming album to be released later this year. Miller has also been booked for the Old Settler's Music Festival in Austin, Texas, on April 17; currently, there is no word on his lineup at that appearance.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Violinist Eric Gorfain discusses playing onstage with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, and his string quartet tribute albums

If you saw any of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant's 1995 tour stops in California, Idaho or Utah, or even any of the musically adventurous shows in Japan the following year, then you've seen Eric Gorfain in concert. An experienced session violin player who'd begun his professional career in Japan, Gorfain ended up translating for Page and Plant as needed while touring with them in February 1996.

As opportunities presented themselves, Gorfain later founded a string quartet called The Section and released an astounding 16 volumes of tribute albums over the course of five years. The first, released in 1999, was dedicated to Led Zeppelin and featured Gorfain's string arrangements of 11 Led Zeppelin tunes. A second volume dedicated to the group followed in 2002, digging deeper into the band's catalog with renditions fit for a concert hall. (All except "Whole Lotta Love" on the first release, which features distorted violin and distorted vocals; play that one at a cocktail reception, and watch all the stuffed shirts choke on their pâté.)

Continuing with his session work, Gorfain has had the pleasure of laying down violin parts for an array of artists no matter what genre, recording for artists as diverse as Live, Uncle Kracker, Kanye West, Foo Fighters and James Blunt. He says one particular career highlight came when he played on "Saturday Night Live," backing Christina Aguilera for a musical performance. Lately, he's been producing music by Sam Phillips, the former wife of T Bone Burnett and author of the only previously unheard song on Raising Sand with Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

Gorfain took some time to speak with about his experiences backing Jimmy Page and Robert Plant and arranging their music, and what projects he has going into 2010. You can hear the full interview below.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

British postage stamp now available featuring Led Zeppelin album cover

Philatelist alert: A set of 10 new Royal Mail postage stamps issued today includes one design bearing the cover art from Led Zeppelin's untitled fourth album.

The stamp design is the result of thoughtful work by Studio Dempsey.

Each of the 10 album stamps includes a standard "1st" insignia in gray, indicating a first class postage rate. On the Led Zeppelin album cover design, this insignia is unobtrusively located on the left side of the stamp, where the gray basically blends in with the gray behind it.

In addition, the stamps are uniquely shaped to accommodate a glimpse of a vinyl disc poking out of each record sleeve.

The design of Led Zeppelin's album artwork itself, originally seen in 1971, was coordinated by Graphreaks. Within the ranks of Atlantic Records, there was strong pressure for the band to relent and to place its name and an album title on the cover art. Led Zeppelin insisted there be no words on the record sleeve despite the objections from label executives that it would be tantamount to "commercial suicide." And with that objection, 32 million people have disagreed.

"Almost 40 years after the album came out, nobody knows the old man who featured on the cover, nor the artist who painted him," Jimmy Page told reporters yesterday. "That sort of sums up what we wanted to achieve with the album cover, which has remained both anonymous and enigmatic at the same time."

Other bands and artists whose album covers are featured in this first run of 10 designs are from all over the realm of popular British music and don't focus on any particular era or genre: the Rolling Stones (Let It Bleed), Blur (Parklife), New Order (Power, Corruption and Lies), David Bowie (The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars), Coldplay (A Rush of Blood to the Head), the Clash (London Calling), Mike Oldfield (Tubular Bells), Pink Floyd (The Division Bell) and Primal Scream (Screamadelica).

Usable stamps can be purchased through the Royal Mail's Web site with several different options. A collectable envelope featuring all 10 of the album cover design stamps and a unique "Plant Street" postmark in the West Midlands can be purchased from TBL/Web.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Daniel Lanois widens his circle of friends; Alison Krauss records in L.A. studio with producer recently linked to Robert Plant

Session drummer Steven Nistor, who's long been affiliated with reknowned U2 producer Daniel Lanois, says he's just been in a Los Angeles recording studio with Lanois and a certain famous singer.

In case you missed it last year when reported that Nistor had taken part in a session pairing Lanois and Robert Plant, get a load of this.

Now the Lanois camp has been recording with Plant's recent singing counterpart, Alison Krauss. In a post dated Dec. 10, this is what Nistor reveals has been happening in his world.

In recalling some of the events that had taken place since his last post at the end of October, Nistor mentioned coming from a studio with Steve Albini and heading back to Los Angeles, where he recorded with Lanois and Krauss.

This time, there was no mention of Plant.

Recall that in Nistor's post on Oct. 30, he revealed that he'd been in the studio with Lanois for projects with Plant and singer Trixie Whitley.

On Whitley's Facebook page was confirmation that she's "recorded and/or played with" Plant.

Then, on the Myspace page of engineer Mark Howard, up popped some pictures from the session proving Robert had been there (although he was not seen with Whitley).

Now, Howard comes through once again with a new set of pictures on his Myspace page, showing Krauss this time with some of the familiar Lanois crew. No Plant sightings there, however.

Based on the timeline given in Nistor's account and the date when these photos were posted, the sessions must have taken place during the first week of December.

How does this revelation fit into a possible scenario for the long-rumored follow-up album to Raising Sand, which was said to be in pre-production in January 2009?

One thought is that producer T Bone Burnett is "Gone Gone Gone" from the project, and Plant and Krauss are pursuing a new direction with Lanois -- or at least testing the waters with some demos.

If that is correct, then it's interesting the recording of Plant and Krauss seems to be handled separately. To those who might suggest they're phoning it in, or that it's obvious the singers can't stand to be in the same room as each other, that's not necessarily so. There were a few songs on Raising Sand that mainly featured only one of the two singers. It may have just worked out logistically that they are recording at different times.

Of course, one would be correct to point out that given the little information available at present, it's not even certain that Plant and Krauss have anything to do with each other at the moment. They could both, for separate reasons, be recording with Lanois. But we know better than to believe that's the case.

A few people do know what's happening, and whatever's going on now isn't being shared with the rest of the world at the moment. All will be revealed -- one of these days, and it won't be long.

Genesis Publications to distribute brochure on Jimmy Page's pictorial autobiography; sign up to receive a copy

From Genesis Publications:
"Announcing a new career-spanning pictorial autobiography. Featuring a wealth of unseen photos from his own archive, Jimmy Page unveils his first official published work to be presented as a hand-crafted book, in a limited edition of only 2,500 copies worldwide.

"For more information, and to register your interest, please click here to submit an email to Genesis Publications. Please include your name and address to receive a complimentary brochure we will be sending in due course.

"Registrants will be offered the first chance to pre-order this new edition, ahead of publication and at a preferential rate.

"Thank you for your interest. We look forward to writing with further news."

Update: In an interview published in the February issue of Mojo magazine, Jimmy Page discusses his book project two years in the making. Here is an excerpt:
"I've seen Genesis books before, and I've really got a lot of time for the way they produce their books; they're really quality items. As someone who's been interested in having a library themselves, I appreciate fine bookbinding and the whole ethic of what they do and what they're trying to do with a whole catalogue of books. I was approached to do it, and I was into it.

"Anyway, I wanted to do something that started at the very beginning. I haven't got me with the very first guitar that I played because, just as it came into my life by accident, I don't really remember how it went out of my life. But everything after that is in there.

"It shows the first guitar that was bought, my first electric guitars, my first groups. It goes through The Yardbirds changes with the line-up when Jeff [Beck] was still there and when there was four of us. Then it goes through the whole of Led Zeppelin and the changing face of Led Zeppelin -- how we each change individually. It was 10 years, and 10 years is a long time. Looking at 1969 alone, I made a point of focusing on how fast things were moving.

"All of it is presented properly, and I hope it's interesting."

Friday, January 1, 2010

Testy guitarist admits he's 'a year behind' in releasing his new music

Jimmy Page, in his first interview published in the new decade, says he's tired of his plans as an artist always being compared to those of his former bandmates in Led Zeppelin.

An Independent piece published with the Jan. 1 dateline focuses on the guitarist and his involvement in "It Might Get Loud," now in U.K. theaters.

The piece also overviews what's been reported about some of his plans for the current year, including a possible tour, a possible appearance in Beijing, a possible album -- hopefully, says reporter James McNair. It's all just possible and hopeful, though. Nothing about Page's future plans was confirmed in the article.

Just what Page says: that he has some new music to put out. Scratch that; he has "lots of new music to present."

But just don't expect him to base his decisions around Led Zeppelin reuniting anymore.

"It's unfortunate that anything that I might want to do gets linked into whatever Robert Plant and John Paul Jones are doing," Page is quoted as saying.

McNair even offers that Page says it "a little testily."

Page continues:
"I intend to be making music next year and I've got lots of new music to present, okay? The only thing to say is that I should have started it a year ago. So I'm a year behind with what I'm doing -- that's not too bad, is it? Some of these business things can get rather complicated, but I've managed to work my way through all that and see a way of getting on with it, thank God."
His last published interview of the 2000s seems to be another feature, this one in the Telegraph by Neil McCormick.

It's gotten a lot of traction in the past couple of days for one particular remark of his, likely a verbatim quote from an interview or two some decades ago when asked to comment on Led Zeppelin reunion rumors. In a manner that made it clear there was a single holdout, the following canned response would suffice:
"You'd better ask Robert Plant what the future of Led Zeppelin is."
That's precisely how Page handled the topic in the Telegraph interview published Dec. 30. It must have felt relieving to say those words and pass the buck.

Page then continued:
"Musicians can always play together, but I don't think you can go out with a band called Led Zeppelin if you haven't got the original vocalist."
True, true.

Not to beleaguer the point, but with all the John Paul Jones interviews coming out lately where he's been stating that when he and Page were last rehearsing together, we've learned through Jones that they weren't considering replacing Robert Plant in Led Zeppelin and it was only mischaracterizations by the mainstream media. Here are two such statements.
  • Jones said in a French television interview filmed Dec. 4 and broadcast Dec. 17, while he was discussing how he came to become a member of Them Crooked Vultures:
    "... I was kind of up for doing something anyway because I'd been -- I'd spent a few months working with Jimmy Page and Jason Bonham after the O2 [reunion concert by Led Zeppelin]. We were gonna form another band, but everybody kept calling it Led Zeppelin without Robert Plant, so we decided -- it kind of fell apart. So... But I was ready to, like, do something and play some music ... "
  • Similarly, Jones tells the Skinny in a piece published Dec. 10:
    "We thought we'd like to start another band -- not Led Zeppelin without Robert Plant, as was reported -- we just wanted to do another band, although obviously we realised we would have to play some Zeppelin songs if we actually went out on tour. We couldn’t agree on singers in the end."
There's no published confirmation from Page in either of his interviews that the Led Zeppelin reunion rumors of 2008 were a media concoction.

In fact, you get exactly the opposite from reading those two articles.
  • McCormick says the music Page hopes to release in 2010 "is unlikely to be with any incarnation of Led Zeppelin, despite having spent a considerable amount of time and energy this year [sic] trying to follow up their 2008 [sic] reunion." (Just to clarify McCormick's blunder, the reunion was in 2007, and the time and energy spent doing something akin to that was in 2008.)
  • McNair follows up his mention of the O2 arena concert, correctly placed as having occurred in 2007, saying that afterwards Page "had hoped for a subsequent Led Zeppelin tour, but Plant's commitment to the O2 show had largely been predicated on it being a one-off tribute to the late Ahmet Ertegun, the Atlantic Records president who was also a close friend of the band."
Again, the above is true. Nobody is suggesting it's not. There absolutely was a time in those rehearsal studios that Page, Jones and Bonham thought they might be able to get Plant to join them and consider another go at a longer Led Zeppelin reunion, perhaps either more shows or an extended tour. This has been well documented all along.

But didn't their desire to reunite Led Zeppelin ultimately give way to another desire, one that Jones said -- back in the thick of things, in October 2008 -- was all about getting out there and playing some loud music? He told us they'd been trying out the odd singer.

Trying singers out to do what? Stand in Robert Plant's place in the rehearsal room until he miraculously showed up?

One singer, Myles Kennedy, has even confirmed to he'd been writing with Page and Jones. That doesn't sound like standing around and singing Led Zeppelin songs to me.

Is it possible that Jones, Kennedy and Bonham were all on board for a new band while Page wasn't? Is it possible that the only singer Page wanted to see himself working with was Robert Plant, and the only band he wanted to see himself working with was Led Zeppelin?

One thing Page does admit is that what he'll be doing this year is something he should have done a year earlier. It no longer matters to him what anybody else is doing. All he's talking about is where he wants to be and what he wants to be doing.

As for the specifics, we shall see.

Speaking of specifics, if you'd like to read more about Page's pictorial autobiography due in a few months, your best bet so far is to fetch a copy of the February 2010 issue of Mojo. You can't miss it on the newsstand because Page adorns the cover. The issue also promises:
"Cue a look back over a career that has spanned the last 45 years of rock history with unseen photos, in-depth discussion of his new movie, his new music and the truth behind those persistent Zeppelin rumours. PLUS! The Page record collection revealed! The sounds that rock his soul!"
But start saving up for a copy of the book now because Genesis Publications is involved, and what that means is this is a high-end and relatively expensive collectable photograph book that is very limited in number.

Although official word is not available outside of Mojo, it appears to that the book's editor is Dave Brolan, who represents Ross Halfin and other photographers who've shot members of Led Zeppelin together and apart.