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.

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