Friday, October 14, 2011

Robert Plant says he's forever committed to Buddy Miller

As Robert Plant picked up one of the big prizes at a Nashville awards ceremony last night, he did more than just thank his touring bandmate Buddy Miller: He pretty much committed himself to having Miller involved in all of his musical projects from here on out.

Plant delivered his remark at the Americana Music Association's annual Honors and Awards ceremony, while accepting the Album of the Year award for his Band of Joy CD. Miller earned two awards of his own at the ceremony.

Before Plant and Miller co-produced the Band of Joy album released last year, they were already touring bandmates from the Raising Sand tour with Alison Krauss. Plant said it on that 2008 tour that he basically decided on sticking with Miller into the uncertain future: "When we toured the Raising Sand tour, I said to the forces that be, I said, 'We can't go anywhere without Buddy Miller,' and I'm never gonna go anywhere without Buddy Miller, ever."

The live audience in Nashville cheered Plant's comments about their hometown hero, who in a few minutes would be named Artist of the Year -- ironically, beating out Plant in the category.

Earlier, upon winning Instrumentalist of the Year, Miller had proclaimed himself "really, really not that good." He said, "I feel like I get away with murder with what I do." Miller mentioned Plant by name, along with Emmylou Harris and Jim Lauderdale, thanking these "wonderfully, incredibly talented people" for letting him "sneak in there behind them."

Plant was much more complimentary of Miller's abilities as an instrumentalist. To him, Miller is "the consummate player of all the licks and the beauty and the soliloquy of great American music that I'd ever heard in my life."

Plant thanked not only Miller in his acceptance speech but also Krauss and his more recent female collaborator, singer Patty Griffin. Said Plant, "When we were making the Band of Joy album, it got to Christmas a year or so ago, and I said to Buddy, 'There's something missing, and it's getting a bit too pastoral.' And so, I have to thank Patty Griffin for really turning the record round."

The British singer also recalled a pivotal encounter with Americana music from even before he was a teen-ager." When I was 12, I heard 'The Mountain's High' by Dick and Dee Dee," he said. "I never looked back. I just kept dreaming of American music and coming over here, and I did. I stole a great deal with my old companions."

The Band of Joy, with Greg Leisz filling in for the absent Darrell Scott, performed the song "Monkey" -- but not before Allman Brothers Band leader Gregg Allman got in a quick comment: "Did you ever think you'd be sittin' here in the Ryman [Auditorium] watching Robert Plant and the Band of Joy?"

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Obituary: Guitarist Bert Jansch dies at 67; influenced Jimmy Page on Led Zeppelin songs

Photo credit: Chris Barber
Folk musician Bert Jansch, one of the most revered figures in British folk music, has died. Reports say his death today followed a bout with cancer that saw Jansch being forced to cancel some live performances recently.

Of particular note to Led Zeppelin fans is Jansch's 1966 album Jack Orion, which contains some instrumental work that influenced Led Zeppelin's own Jimmy Page.

The disc begins with an instrumental track on acoustic guitar and banjo called "The Waggoner's Lad." On Led Zeppelin III released in 1970, certain passages of Page's guitar playing between the verses of "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp" echo some of Jansch's licks on this track.

More significantly, the flip side of Jack Orion includes a song called "Blackwater Side." On this track, Jansch sings a vocal melody over the reprise of a guitar arrangement heard on the earlier album cuts "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and "The Gardener." On the debut Led Zeppelin album released in 1969, Page's guitar instrumental "Black Mountain Side" is essentially an instrumental rewrite of "Blackwater Side" complete with Page playing both the melody Jansch sings on "Blackwater Side" and much of the same guitar arrangement.

In interviews, Page mentions the popular British folk group Pentangle was an influence on him. In that group, Jansch played alongside fellow guitarist John Renbourn and vocalist Jacqui McShee.

In a May 1970 interview with that group conducted by Lemon Squeezings friend Rick McGrath for Vancouver's underground newspaper Georgia Strait, Jansch and McShee expressed their frustration with Page's sole writing credit on Led Zeppelin's "Black Mountain Side."

McShee said, "Actually, I think it's a very rude thing to do. Pinch somebody else's thing and credit it to yourself. It annoys me. ... In all the English papers at home he's always talking about Bert. Says he's influenced. I mean, why say that and then put something on an LP and say Jimmy Page?"

Putting it more simply, Jansch, laughing, said of the Led Zeppelin track, "That's my song."

Friday, September 23, 2011

Robert Plant, Patty Griffin debut Crown Vic lineup in Marfa, Texas

Well, this may be an early indicator of what Robert Plant's career may look like next. And no, it's not with Led Zeppelin.

But it does include their music.

No, Robert's not taking his own "Hot Dog" advice from 1979: "I'll never go to Texas anymore." He's long broken that rule.

On Thursday night, he appeared in Texas, as rumored, at Marfa's El Cosmico for the Trans-Pecos Festival of Music & Love. He and native Texan Patty Griffin sang with a band of Lone Star Staters called the Crown Vic.

Something tells me that name may already be copyrighted.

The band's got electric guitar, mandolin, keyboard and accordion, electric and acoustic bass, and drums. Griffin's on mandolin, too, besides singing and doing her one and only dance.

In uploading a video of their first song on YouTube, MarcDurbin identifies the band members with Plant and Griffin as "David Grissom (electric guitar), Michael Ramos (organ, accordion), Glenn Fukunaga (acoustic & electric bass), [and] Dony Wynn (drums)."

As has been the case with just about every Robert Plant band of the last 20 years -- wait, make that 41 years -- they do "Black Dog." Hmm, that could have been predicted.

Plant's set puts a Texas town seven hours west of Austin on the map. Hundreds are attending the festival in Marfa, reports Nathaniel Miller for Odessa American Online.

View Larger Map

Plant and Griffin are said to have been rehearsing in Austin with the group of local musicians. When Griffin goes on the road with Buddy Miller, Plant is expected to remain in Austin to continue working with Crown Vic.

Robert Plant's name does not appear on the festival poster. His appearance was rumored but not officially announced until the day of the festival opening. Previously, Patty Griffin was scheduled to appear with "special guests" who would be a surprise.
@SoundCheckMag posted on Twitter:
"Incredible! Mostly killer blues rock w/ some Louisiana accordion & beats. A few slow tunes too. [T]heir harmonies are perfect."
Miller added via Twitter that "Rock and Roll" also made Griffin and Plant's set list. KGSR's Andy Langer has uploaded "Misty Mountain Hop" to YouTube. (Hey, it seems like Plant's been listening to Led Zeppelin's untitled fourth album!)

Swan Percussion via Facebook
From Miller's report on Odessa American Online:
Singer Patty Griffin appeared on stage and introduced her band, including one of the most famous lead singers in rock history.

"I'd like to introduce you to my dear, dear friend, Robert Plant," Griffin said to an explosion of cheers.

About 300 people from around the state gathered in Marfa for El Cosmico's sixth annual Trans-Pecos Festival of Music and Love, and the crowd seemed remarkably calm and quiet. Attendees and vendors gathered to listen to music, eat food and drink beer.

Isadora McKeon, producer of the event, said the event was also helping those in need. "Five dollars of each preregistration ticket sold will go to the Central Texas Wildfire Relief Fund," McKeon said. ...

What started out as friends coming together at the building's location, turned into a two day festival of music, vendors and fun. "I'm proud of what we created,” McKeon said.

Since its inaugural festival, the event has grown into three days, with a show added on Thursday, and it will continue to hold events such as the baseball game between Marfa and Austin on Saturday, and have numerous vendors selling art, clothing and food. ...

People who attended the show said they were aware Plant would be at the show, but did not know for sure if he was really going to take the state.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Shop launching on Jimmy Page's official site to offer limited edition of 'Death Wish II' vinyl

Jimmy Page's 1982 soundtrack for the movie Death Wish II is to be rereleased next month in a limited quantity, a news item on the guitarist's official website has announced.

The Death Wish II soundtrack was the first album released by any surviving member of Led Zeppelin after the group disbanded in 1980.

It was 30 years ago on Sept. 15 that Page recorded an instrumental that was used as the film's main title sequence but was not available on the original soundtrack album.

That instrumental, an early version of the album's song "Who's to Blame" simply called "Synth Track," is said to be added to the track listing of the remastered soundtrack to be issued in October.

Page says the working title "referred to the initial guitar track performed on a guitar synthesiser with further overdubs with guitar synthesiser and melody lines from a Telecaster string bender."

For only 24 hours, the front page of Page's site features a clip of "Synth Track." He says he recently found a white label test pressing of it in his personal collection.

The release is also to include liner notes newly written by Page. He explains on his site:
In 1981, Michael Winner asked me if I would compose the soundtrack to Death Wish II. The songs with vocals were only going to appear in the film for a matter of seconds but I had recorded full versions of them anyway - which is how I ended up doing my first soundtrack and soundtrack album. I’ve re-released this because I wanted it to be available again.
Only 1,000 copies of the remastered Death Wish II vinyl are to be pressed, according to Page's site. They are to be sold exclusively through the forthcoming shop on No plans have been announced for any other reissues at this time.

Page launched his first official site on July 14, saying in an interview published on it four days later, "I think this is the ideal vehicle to present my past, present and future work."

His recollections about Death Wish II, including a track identification log for "Synth Track," are part of the daily "On This Day" feature that keeps the site's front page fresh each day. "It looks random, but it isn't," he explained. "I love the idea that there will be a 'Splash' page everyday and nobody will be able to guess what's coming next."

Monday, September 12, 2011

Will Robert Plant sing again between projects?

Campers arriving next Thursday night in Marfa, Texas, for the 6th Annual Trans-Pecos Festival of Music and Love, may find out that one of the unnamed "special guests" appearing with Patty Griffin during her set is Robert Plant!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Jason Bonham announces fall Led Zeppelin Experience tour dates; live DVD from Black Country Communion also previewed

Two bits of news have emerged from Jason Bonham's camp this week: one involving an upcoming live release from his group Black Country Communion, and the other involving his other touring outfit, Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience.

First, a release date has been set for Black Country Communion's live 2-DVD set. While Bonham toured Europe with bandmates Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa and Derek Sherinian over the summer, they filmed what looks like a pretty decent performance of tracks from their two studio albums.

Titled Live over Europe, the two-DVD set will be available Oct. 24 with pre-orders being taken beginning Sept. 13. It will be Black Country Communion's second release this year, following the June release of Black Country Communion 2. It hasn't even been a full year since the release of their self-titled debut.

There's already a trailer for the DVD, just released on YouTube this week. And anyone going to the band's official website,, can register to receive a free MP3 download of one of the songs included on the DVD. Downloading begins Sept. 8.

In other Bonham news, his other band has today announced a slew of upcoming tour dates scheduled this fall. Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience began last year as a large-scale vehicle for the drummer to connect with audiences in sharing his own personal story of growing up with the Led Zeppelin family. The stories Bonham tells onstage are complemented by the songs played by hand-selected musicians who aren't lookalikes or even imitators of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones.

This will be Bonham's third outing with the Led Zeppelin Experience lineup. They have toured the United States and Canada twice already.

Four of the upcoming live dates were rescheduled from earlier appearances that were postponed at the time due to the illness of singer James Dylan. Tickets from the previously postponed California and Nevada shows will be honored on the night of the rescheduled show.

The four rescheduled dates are:
  • Oct. 14: Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Oct. 15: Alliente Casino, Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Oct. 17: Crest Theatre, Sacramento, Calif.
  • Oct. 18: Uptown Theatre, Napa Valley, Calif.
Ten other newly announced shows are to take place in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Ontario, Canada. The band will be returning to previously entertained markets in some of these cases. The new dates are:
  • Oct. 12: Fox Performing Arts Center, Riverside, Calif.
  • Oct. 13: Fox Theatre, Bakersfield, Calif.
  • Oct. 27: Bergen PAC, Englewood, N.J.
  • Oct. 28: Paramount Theater, Huntington, N.Y.
  • Oct. 29: Tower Theater, Upper Darby, Pa.
  • Oct. 31: Wilbur Theatre, Boston, Mass.
  • Nov. 1: Best Buy Theater, New York, N.Y.
  • Nov. 2: The Webster, Hartford, Conn.
  • Nov. 4: Town Ballroom, Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Nov. 5: Casino Rama, Orillia, Ontario, Canada
In addition, the locations of two shows in Quebec remain to be announced later this month.
  • One will take place Nov. 6 at a venue in Ottawa or Gatineau; details are to be announced Sept. 19. (UPDATE: It takes place at Casino Lac Leamy in Gatineau.)
  • The other show is to take place Nov. 7 in Quebec City; details are to be announced Sept. 6. (UPDATE: It takes place at the Grand Theatre de Quebec.)
Additional tour dates were announced Sept. 15 as follows:
  • Nov. 10: The Fillmore, Silver Spring, Md.
  • Nov. 11: The Chance, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
  • Nov. 12: The National, Richmond, Va.
  • Nov. 13: Center Stage, Atlanta, Ga.
  • Nov. 16: Hard Rock Live, Orlando, Fla.
  • Nov. 17: Seminole Hard Rock Live Arena, Hollywood, Fla.
  • Nov. 18: Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Fla.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Jimmy Page coming out of retirement; guitarist makes 2nd onstage visit as Web countdown ends

Jimmy Page joined the Black Crowes onstage
in London, Wednesday, July 13. They played
"Shake Your Moneymaker," a blues by Elmore
James they last played together on tour
over a decade ago. YouTube: brenotube
Jimmy Page has now found himself back onstage for another surprise performance, the second time since June, following the better part of a decade spent just about anywhere other than stages.

London, where many of Page's post-Led Zeppelin gigs have taken place over the past 31 years, on Wednesday night solidified his intention to make a comeback of sorts.

Wednesday's gig was at Shepherds Bush Empire, a venue where Page might remember sharing the stage in March '98 with Robert Plant, during the tour in support of new material on an overlooked album but whose live sets focused on Led Zeppelin hits from another era.

Singer Chris Robinson marvels as Jimmy Page plays
one of the first guitar solos of a long-awaited and crucial
phase of his career, his coming out of retirement.
YouTube: dsrc18
This time, though, Page stepped on the stage with other folks and for only one song, one that surely wasn't "Stairway." Not even close.

With the Black Crowes, the very group with which Page embarked on his last tour just over a decade ago, he entertained Shepherds Bush on a blues standard, Elmore James's "Shake Your Money Maker."

Meanwhile, fans who've been aware of an imminent change to Jimmy Page's official site,, prepared to check in on the hour, every hour, until something changed.

Kool-Aid drinkers believed Page would come out of retirement, in one way or another, when, 24 days ago, a daily countdown of Roman numerals first appeared on Page's site alongside an active sandglass.

YouTube: brenotube
The guitarist to Page's left is 38-year-old Luther Dickinson,
the Black Crowes' most recent acquisition, plucked from
the North Mississippi Allstars. YouTube: brenotube
YouTube: dsrc18
YouTube: dsrc18
YouTube: dsrc18
YouTube: dsrc18 
YouTube: dsrc18

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Jimmy Page surprises Donovan's crowd with onstage guest spot

Donovan and Jimmy Page play "Sunshine Superman"
Friday night in London.
Jimmy Page sat in with singer Donovan on Friday night in London, in a way reprising an in-studio collaboration dating back to the days before Led Zeppelin was founded.

Donovan recreated his 1966 album Sunshine Superman during his concert at the Royal Albert Hall, with the backing of an orchestra. One of the unnamed "very special guests" teased in advance of the gig turned out to be Page, who recorded electric guitar on the title track while he was one of London's most highly demanded session guitarists.

Page's onstage appearance amounted to adding guitar to "Sunshine Superman" and another one of Donovan's popular singles from that era, "Mellow Yellow."

Donovan, left, and Jimmy Page embraced
after their live rendition of "Mellow Yellow" on Friday.
The gig marked Page's first time playing (or miming) guitar in front of a live audience in more than two years. For the past decade, it was Page's eighth onstage appearance, including the Led Zeppelin reunion concert in 2007.

In recent years, Page has stated he is working on new music and that a return to live appearances would be imminent. He also released a pictorial autobiography last year, participated in the film It Might Get Loud, and planned a possible new group with such familiar artists as John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham.

The guitarist's current project involves developing an official website at

Friday, March 11, 2011

Jason Bonham part of 3 touring lineups in UK, US, Europe

A summary of Jason Bonham's upcoming tour dates with as many as three different band lineups (updated as time goes on):

UK tour dates with Paul Rodgers
April 15: Blackpool - Opera House
April 16: Sheffield - City Hall
April 18: Newcastle - Metro Radio Arena
April 19: Glasgow - Clyde Auditorium
April 21: Manchester - O2 Apollo
April 22: Nottingham - Royal Centre
April 24: Bournemouth - International Centre
April 25: Southend - Cliff Pavilions
April 27: London - Royal Albert Hall
April 28: Birmingham - National Indoor Arena

US/Canada tour date(s) with Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience
May 4: Wallingford, Conn. - Oakdale Theatre NEW! Tickets on sale beginning March 25
May 5: New Brunswick, N.J. - State Theatre NEW! Tickets available here
May 6: Atlantic City, N.J. - Borgata Resort NEW!
May 7: Concord, N.H. - Capitol Center for the Arts NEW! Tickets on sale beginning March 21
May 9: Buffalo, N.Y. - University PAC NEW! Tickets on sale beginning March 25
May 10: Westbury, N.Y. - Theatre at Westbury NEW! Tickets on sale beginning March 25
May 12: Montreal, Quebec - Metropolis NEW!
May 14: Toronto, Ontario - Sound Academy NEW!
May 15: Greensburg, Pa. - The Palace Theater Tickets available here
May 17: Indianapolis, Ind. - The Murat Theatre NEW! Tickets on sale beginning March 25
May 18: St. Louis, Mo. - The Pageant NEW! Tickets on sale beginning March 18
May 19: Kansas City, Mo. - Harrah's Casino NEW! Tickets on sale beginning March 26
May 20: Denver, Colo. - Ogden Theatre NEW! Tickets on sale beginning March 19
May 21: Salt Lake City, Utah - The Depot NEW! Tickets on sale beginning March 18
May 24: Fremont, Calif. - The Saddle Rack NEW! Tickets on sale beginning March 25
May 25: Napa Valley, Calif. - The Uptown Theatre NEW! Tickets on sale beginning March 18
May 26: Sacramento, Calif. - Crest Theatre NEW! Tickets on sale beginning March 19
May 27: Los Angeles, Calif. - Greek Theatre NEW! Tickets on sale beginning March 25
May 28: Las Vegas, Nev. - Aliante Casino NEW! Tickets on sale beginning March 26

US tour dates with Black Country Communion
June 9: San Diego, Calif. - Civic Theatre Tickets available here
June 10: Anaheim, Calif. - City National Grove of Anaheim Tickets available here
June 11: Salt Lake City, Utah - The Depot NEW! Tickets available here
June 13: St. Louis, Mo. - The Pageant NEW! Tickets available here
June 15: Indianapolis, Ind. - Murat Theatre NEW! Tickets available here
June 17: Hampton Beach, N.H. - Casino Ballroom NEW! Tickets available here
June 18: Sayreville, N.J. - Starland Ballroom NEW! Tickets available here
June 19: Washington, D.C. - 9:30 Club NEW! Tickets available here

European tour dates with Black Country Communion
June 23: Vitoria, Spain - Azkena Rock Festival
June 30: Stuttgart, Germany - Killersberg
July 1: Frankfurt, Germany - Jahrhunderthalle
July 2: Liepzig, Germany - Parkbuhne
July 4: Munich, Germany - Zenith
July 5: Berlin, Germany - Zitadelle
July 6: Hamburg, Germany - Stadtpark
July 10: Weert, Netherlands - Bospop Festival
July 14: Bonn, Germany - Museumsplatz

UK tour dates with Black Country Communion
July 23: Llandudno, Wales - Llandudno Cymru Arena NEW!
July 26: Leeds, England - O2 Academy
July 27: Newcastle, England - O2 Academy
July 29: Glasgow, Scotland - O2 Academy
July 30: Manchester, England - O2 Academy

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Travel package 'coming soon' for ZepFest 2011, site repeats

By Steve Sauer

ZepFest 2011's Twitter page says a travel package is coming soon for attendees of the Memorial Day weekend event to be held in Washington, D.C.

That's good to know since it's already mid-March, almost St. Patty's Day, and we should be booking hotel and flights shortly, wouldn't one think?

"ZepFest travel package coming soon." Sound like a tune you were humming last Halloween? Here's why that is.

Well, since you are watching this so close: VERY poor form - come May 27th we will see how 'shaky' this is - have to adjust the invite list.
The remark appears to be a reaction to a Lemon Squeezings reader who posted on Facebook:
"I think this zepfest is really shaky."
Also posted later on tonight by ZepFest:
"'Shaky' - oh yeah it will be & it will also be rattlin' & rollin' with: ✫Grammy Winners ✶Grammy Nominees ✬Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Members"

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Interview portends discouraging view on future live releases from Led Zeppelin era

By Steve Sauer

Unconfirmed rumors have it that a new legitimate, official release from Led Zeppelin is in the works. It would be the long-awaited video of Led Zeppelin's reunion concert, staged on Dec. 10, 2007, at the O2 arena in London.

At that concert, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant and Jason Bonham performed a two-hour stage show of Led Zeppelin material. There has been no official announcement of a DVD release, but rumors suggest such a release is forthcoming, with a possible shelf date much later this year.

Meanwhile, a new interview with producer Kevin Shirley about his past work on Led Zeppelin projects contains an overall discouraging view on the prospect of any future live releases of performances from the original Led Zeppelin era. contributor Wyatt Brake picks up the story with his own observations, originally posted to the discussion groups Royal Orleans and For Badgeholders Only:
There are several discouraging aspects to this interview.
  1. The Zeppelin camp (at least as of 2002-2003) thought they had tons of live recordings to sift through in preparation for public release, and they (mistakenly) believed that these recordings were being adequately stored over the past 20+ years.
  2. Kevin Shirley, who is now the Zepsters' go-to guy when it comes to this stuff ('03 DVD/HTWWW/Unledded/TSRTS) has declared to the members that 'there really isn't that much there' because the performances are unworthy of release. That's obviously a judgment call from a guy they now trust, and the judgment seems unlikely to be reversed because there's little desire - apparently even on Page's part - to delve in and determine if they agree with that determination. A convincing argument could be made that even without that declaration on Caveman's part that Page (the meticulous guy who gave us the original splice-a-thon of 1976 on TSRTS) would have come to the same conclusion, but now we might never know.
  3. The confirmation of something we've long suspected - that Page's role as a producer and even as an "in the cutting room" overseer is over and done. From another KS interview that came out in 2007/2008 in the wake of the remastered TSRTS, we know that Plant was actually the one to 'take the lead on that release and that he was the guy sitting next to Caveman taking an interest in what was being done.
  4. Hopes for an Earl's Court retrospective combining elements of all five (or at least the last three) nights, or a How The (Far) East Was Won, or a more complete Knebworth... all those things seem much less likely to come out in light of what Shirley had to say in this interview. Maybe we'll get an upgraded version of the 2003 LZDVD on Blu-ray, but aside from that, it doesn't leave me optimistic about more archive releases - especially about a release of Japan '71 or Bath '70.

Kevin Shirley admits to run-ins with Jimmy Page

By Brian Gardiner and Steve Sauer

Grammy-nominated recording engineer Dave Rideau sat recently with producer Kevin "The Caveman" Shirley at his aptly named studio, The Cave, located in Malibu, California.

In the interview for Solid State Logic, Shirley opens up about his career and his recording methods, including working on Led Zeppelin's digital-era releases and discs from current supergroup Black Country Communion.

The resulting 39-minute interview has been published in three parts on YouTube.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Robert Plant, Band of Joy to tour Europe

After finishing their North American run of shows with three festival appearances -- Merlefest in May and Bonnaroo and Telluride in June -- Robert Plant and the Band of Joy will embark on a European tour.

The Band of Joy has announced 10 shows in July and August. After two Italian shows, the tour runs through France, Switzerland, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany and Belgium. More shows are expected to be added, including some shows in the UK.

The following dates are confirmed
, with tickets on sale now:
  • July 19: Rome, Italy - Capannelle Fiesta
  • July 20: Milan, Italy - Arena Civica
  • July 22: Nimes, France - Festival de Nimes, Les Roman Arenes (tickets)
  • July 23: Nyon, Switzerland - Paleo Festival
  • July 27: St. Petersburg, Russia - New Arena
  • July 29: Moscow, Russia - Crocus Hall (tickets)
  • July 31: Kiev, Ukraine - Palace of Sports
  • Aug. 2: Warsaw, Poland - Torwar (tickets)
  • Aug. 3: Berlin, Germany - Zitadelle (tickets)
  • Aug. 5: Lokeren, Belgium - Lockersee Festival (ticketsmore information)

Monday, February 28, 2011

John Paul Jones-composed opera to be produced in 2013

By Brian Gardiner
Hot off an on-stage part in the Royal Opera's "Anna Nicole: The Party Always Ends," John Paul Jones is set to compose an opera himself. Jones has been involved in work to compose an opera based on the Isabel Allende short story, "The Judge's Wife."

Jones's opera composition is set for a fall 2013 production. It is to feature a libretto by Amanda Holden and direction from Gerald Thomas. Stuart Stratford has been pegged as conductor.

In December, Jones and Thomas met at the Hoxton Hotel in London to discuss the opera project. Their meeting appears on YouTube.

Thomas's current play, "Throats," features a piano composition by Jones. It is currently playing at the Pleasence Theatre in London through March 27.

"Anna Nicole" has two more performances at the Royal Opera House: on Tuesday, March 1, and Friday, March 4.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Well-tuned Band of Joy to appear on PBS

Fresh on the heels of Robert Plant's last televised in-concert special, PBS announced it would be featuring Plant and the Band of Joy on an upcoming episode of the series "Live from the Artists Den."

PBS cameras filmed the group's second concert in Nashville earlier this month as Plant and the Band of Joy went on a two-month break before further U.S. dates resume. No airdate has been announced for the episode, but it will be one of the episodes in the third season of the "Artists Den" series, kicking off this April. Update: The episode premieres April 22. For more audio and photographs from the concert, click here.

Incidentally, Band of Joy singer/guitarist Patty Griffin performed a solo concert for the first season of "Artists Den." The third season is set to get underway in April with a performance from Elvis Costello and the Sugarcanes, which features T Bone Burnett, who produced 2007's Raising Sand for Robert Plant and Alison Krauss before accompanying them on their 2008 tour.

The current six-member Band of Joy began touring in July 2010, in advance of Plant's Band of Joy CD release in September. As the tour progressed, so did the interplay among band members. A London gig of theirs shot last September aired this past weekend on the cable network HDNet.

It's safe to say an even more captivating performance can be expected out of Nashville, which is home for most of the Band of Joy musicians. The aptly nicknamed "Music City" was also the location of their recordings beginning in December 2009 and last summer's tour rehearsals.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Robert Plant unsure of Led Zeppelin reunion odds; singer tells BBC, 'I don't bet'

By Brian Gardiner

Robert Plant spent an hour sitting in with Chris Evans on the "Chris Evans Breakfast Show" on BBC Radio this morning. The singer is in London between legs of his American tour -- a schedule that is dictated by the Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club. You have to "plan your career, set our priorities right," Plant quipped.

Led Zeppelin was, Plant also offered, a lot like the Wolves: really good some nights, really bad others.

In good spirits, Plant even pontificated on that question he hates answering. The Led Zeppelin reunion:
"All those big guys saw it as being the next big roll out. Led Zeppelin was worth far more than that ... it was great to do it once properly."
And then, unprompted, he went further:
"What happens in the future really is based on kinship, camaraderie. Whether or not there's life in the old beast."
If you're a betting man? Evans asked. "I don't bet," Plant answered.

Evans also asked Plant to pick the better guitarist: Jimmy Page or David Gilmour?
"Listen to Pagey. Jimbob. He's wild. He's brilliant."
It was, no contest, Plant said. He also suggested he talked to Jimmy Page yesterday, and would see him again Wednesday.

He has been accused recently of not getting along with the other members of Led Zeppelin, so it's good to hear he's on terms with Jimmy Page, even if they won't be working together soon.

About the Band of Joy, Plant said he was pleased for Patty Griffin winning a Grammy. But:
"You gotta be sharp with this lot, because they do soundchecks, which I never knew about. Then they go and eat broccoli."
And while it occurred to Plant a person had to look after themselves, he still likes a drink, which is OK because "a lot of musicians are drinking again."

For an early morning radio show Plant sounded in good form, and offered quips about many people. Paul McCartney, for instance, was the first person to hug him after his Grammy winning night for Raising Sand. And who gave him the shortest hug? Alison Krauss.

Listen to the show here.

Is 'Black Country Communion II' smokin’ hot?

By Brian Gardiner

Glenn Hughes was heading this week to producer Kevin "The Caveman" Shirley's studio to record vocals for the last two songs of Black Country Communion's second album. Upon arriving at "The Cave," Shirley discovered a fire.

He writes:
"I opened up to thick acrid smoke and a sideboard aflame. Miraculously, there were no guitars lost, no masters affected, and the studio is smelly but otherwise OK."
Hughes finished his vocals, reporting via Facebook, "all vocals are now done... what a crazy day." It was a close call, he says:
"we are SO lucky that Kevin walked in just in time..."
Hughes has previously said BCC II had fast become his "proudest musical moment" and its recording "has been a wonderful experience."

Hughes called Kev "The Caveman" the "best producer I have ever worked with."

BCC II, which is so hot it fried a soundboard, is due for release in June. It is the follow-up to the self-titled debut album out last SeptemberCheck out their tour dates and a second-album preview video here. Also, see Jason Bonham on tour with Paul Rodgers ahead of the BCC II album release.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Calling Jimmy Page: Where are you?

Editorial by Steve Sauer

Tonight, I'm remembering a time when Jimmy Page had a backing band.
I'm wearing the T-shirt I bought when I saw Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes. They played live in Camden, NJ. Note the boys in the picture appear to be playing with a Zoso symbol they've discovered! Symbolic, maybe? I'm glad to have seen Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes live. Not everybody got the chance since they never finished their tour. Jimmy Page had back problems!
OK, remember when his touring band consisted of Robert Plant on vocals, Robert's son-in-law on bass, Michael Lee on drums? For their '98 tour, it was back to a fourpiece playing primarily Led Zeppelin songs, plus a few of the Page/Plant/C. Jones/Lee originals that had appeared on Walking into Clarksdale.

A few months later, Robert Plant told Bill Curbishley not to go ahead, as planned, and book any Page/Plant shows in Japan. Robert decided to leave Jimmy. And he did; he just up 'n' left!

And what did Jimmy do? First, he went to the studio, bringing drummer Michael Lee, and laid down some new instrumentals that just needed Robert's part. Their original music needed original vocals. But Robert stayed away.

And what did Jimmy do next? He called up those two Robinson brothers from Georgia and said they should do a few shows together. They'd met before, never jammed. Page had been listening since their first album, however, so he made it happen.

So they rehearsed. These are those 1999 rehearsals with Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes. Thanks to the YouTube user who uploaded them a week or so ago! These have previously been unseen.

Note all the Zeppelin they're playing! They were essentially a cover band handpicked out of Page's preference. They must have hunkered down and listened to some old CDs before meeting up with Page.

This is them meeting up with Page, who wants to see what these boys have got.

And how are the results? See where it's working and where it's not as they attempt "In My Time of Dying."

Part 1

Part 2

Listen to them get low-down dirty on the Howlin' Wolf blues "Smokestack Lightning."

Watch Chris Robinson do some Robert Plant moves on "Houses of the Holy."

At any rate, Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes were on the road the following year, playing a few dates in New York and a few more in Los Angeles. Kevin Shirley just happened to record the L.A. Greek Theater dates and suggested afterward they release it on CD! They did.

That CD package was initially released by, which was soon to be defunct. In those days before iTunes had taken over, it was available for you to order custom-made CDs with the track listing and order of your own choosing. They'd burn 'em and mail 'em to you -- for a charge, of course. That's the improbable manner in which these CDs were marketed and sold. People would try anything in those days!

It sold so many copies that the site was down. Too bad for the people invested in, but the success of these sales was essentially lightning striking only once.

But the CDs then went to the TVT label a few months later, and they put out an expanded edition of Live at the Greek and sold it in brick-and-mortar stores. It sold well, too. And they also sold it at their concerts.

This represents one time in Jimmy Page's past that he bounced back from Robert Plant not being available anymore for touring with him. Jimmy tried only once to lure Robert back into the studio, and when that didn't work, he just found a new group with a new singer. And they went from there! Jimmy and the Black Crowes.

When else has Jimmy bounced back from Robert's unavailability? Think also: Jimmy and Coverdale ('93). Jimmy and Aerosmith (a few shows in '90). Jimmy and Paul Rodgers (the Firm from '84 to '86).

Has Jimmy bounced back anytime lately? Uh... Jimmy and Myles? No, we never heard it. Uh... Jimmy and Steven Tyler? Thank our lucky stars we never heard it!

But the point is this: What has Jimmy Page been up to? Why haven't we heard from him?

I close with this: Black Country Communion II. They just finished recording it today! Jason Bonham on drums, Glenn Hughes on vocals and bass, Derek Sherinian on keyboards, and Joe Bonamassa leaving his blues guitar comfort zone and playing straight rock music. This is something to get excited about!

And remember that Page/Crowes live album? Kevin Shirley was at the helm. He is here too. More on that in a moment.

Alison Krauss trades compliments with Robert Plant in Rolling Stone

By Brian Gardiner

Last month, Robert Plant told Rolling Stone magazine that a second album with Alison Krauss was started, but "the sound wasn't there."

He was referring to sessions on the followup to their Grammy winning album, Raising Sand. Plant went on to record Band of Joy instead of continuing with the Krauss collaboration. Alison Krauss returned to her band, Union Station, and recorded their sixth studio album.

In a piece in Rolling Stone this week, Krauss agreed with Plant that the sound wasn't there. However, she wants to be clear that's not the fault of the musicians they were working with:
"I don't want to make it sound like we're saying that someone else's performance wasn't there - the band was fantastic, the same as the first record."
The two traded compliments in their respective Rolling Stone stories as well, Plant saying:
"Alison's the best. She's one of my favorite people."
Krauss is more backhanded in her return compliment:
"He's a delightful person, and I'll never meet another like him."
Krauss's new Union Station album, Paper Airplane, is due April 12. It is their first album since 2004's Lonely Runs Both Ways.

John Paul Jones performs at Anna Nicole Smith's big reveal

By Brian Gardiner

Production photo:
Bill Cooper/Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera's "Anna Nicole" premiered Feb. 17 at London's Royal Opera House. Booked for six performances, Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones performed as part of an "onstage" jazz trio.

Composed by Mark-Anthony Turnage with libretto by Richard Thomas, the prospect of an opera on the life of the late Playboy centerfold seems unlikely. It is not, however, unheard of for an opera to be based on an actual person.

Mozart's "Don Giovanni" has a libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte, who as an ordained priest caroused with legendary womanizer Giacomo Casanova. The libretto for "Don Giovanni" was partially based on the life of Casanova. (The recent movie "I, Don Giovanni" was partially based on this connection.)

More than a century later, composer Francesco Cilea with a libretto by Arturo Colautti premiered "Adriana Lecouvreur" about an 18th century French actress. Its plot features love, anger, intrigue, greed and, finally, the heroine's death.

Novelist and opera aficionado/librettist Robertson Davies once wrote of John Corigliano's "The Ghosts of Versailles," "The plot is of a complexity that I think is dangerous in an opera." It's true that keeping an opera's theme simple allows the composer to let the music shine through. And all great operas are great musical works first and foremost.

Anna Nicole Smith's modern story is no less tragic of a story than topics mentioned above. Although her life is suitable to opera, was justice done through the music? The reviews are now coming in, and the verdict is unclear. The Independent notes "Anna Nicole" is:
often ironical beyond irony itself and delighting in the music of its own wordplay - would carry the day even if the score weren't as terrific as it is…
Production photo:
Bill Cooper/Royal Opera House
Sky News is less impressed, however:
Although the singing is fantastic and the Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek is excellent as the story's buxom, tragic heroine, the music is less memorable.
And while Eva-Marie Westbroek gets accolades in the bulk of the reviews, Zeppelin fans may be sure, the bassist in the jazz trio was pretty good as well. Reuters reports:
The production included an utterly believable re-creation of a lap-dancing club set in Smith's native Texas and a riotous, cocaine-fueled onstage party that featured a guest appearance by Led Zeppelin bass guitarist John Paul Jones, a long-time friend of the composer.

Jones turning up as part of a jazz trio gives only a small clue to the depth and breadth of Turnage's score for the 80-piece ROH orchestra, under the baton of conductor Antonio Pappano.
John Paul Jones on bass, and a big brassy blonde singer. Sounds like my kind of opera!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Paul Rodgers, Jason Bonham link for UK tour in April

While waiting for Black Country Communion to release its second album and begin touring in June, Jason Bonham will not be lounging around the house waiting for the unemployment check. Bonham will be part of the touring lineup backing Paul Rodgers on his April jaunt through the UK.

Photo: Carl Dunn
The tour will be in support of the 31st album of Rodgers's career as a recording artist. Completing the band lineup with with Bonham on drums will be Heart guitarist Howard Leese and bassist Lynn Sorensen.

Rodgers has led a successful solo career in addition to fronting the bands Free, Bad Company, the Firm and a post-Freddie Mercury Queen. Bonham drummed on two of Rodgers's albums in the 1990s: Muddy Water Blues in 1993 and The Chronicle in 1997.

Rodgers and Bonham also shared the bill of the Ahmet Ertegun tribute concert in 2007. Before Bonham filled his father's seat for the Led Zeppelin reunion portion, Rodgers opened with renditions of his song "Seagull" and the Free hit "All Right Now." a rendition of his song "Bluebird."

Tickets for this tour in April are ₤34.50 regionally and ₤32.50, ₤37.50, ₤40.00 and ₤50.00 in London from Live Nation and Ticketmaster.

Tour dates are:
  • April 15: Blackpool - Opera House
  • April 16: Sheffield - City Hall
  • April 18: Newcastle - Metro Radio Arena
  • April 19: Glasgow - Clyde Auditorium
  • April 21: Manchester - O2 Apollo
  • April 22: Nottingham - Royal Centre
  • April 24: Bournemouth - International Centre
  • April 25: Southend - Cliff Pavilions
  • April 27: London - Royal Albert Hall
  • April 28: Birmingham - National Indoor Arena

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Them Crooked Vultures awarded Grammy with 'New Fang'

By Brian Gardiner

Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones, drummer Dave Grohl and guitarist/singer Josh Homme have won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance. The award, for the song "New Fang" by their group Them Crooked Vultures, was announced during non-broadcast portion of the awards.

In other non-broadcast Grammy awards, Robert Plant and the Band of Joy were shut out on their bid for a Grammy. The Band of Joy was nominated for two Grammys: Best Americana Album, which was won by Mavis Staples for You Are not Alone, and Best Solo Rock Performance, which was won by Helter Skelter from Good Evening New York City.

In other awards:

  • Jimmy Page's fellow former Yardbirds guitarist, Jeff Beck, won three Grammys for Best Pop Collaboration, Best Pop Instrumental Performance, and Best Rock Instrumental Performance.
  • Patty Griffin, a current bandmate of Robert Plant's, won a Grammy for Best Tradition Gospel Album for Downtown Church.
  • T Bone Burnett, who produced Plant's Grammy-winning album with Alison Krauss, Raising Sand, also won for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, with "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Black Country Communion previews second album, 'BCC II'

Black Country Communion has released video footage of the band recording Black Country Communion II, an album singer/bassist Glenn Hughes referred to earlier this week as "my proudest musical moment."

Update: Black Country Communion's European summer concert dates so far include the following:
  • June 23: Vitoria, Spain - Azkena Rock Festival (tickets)
  • June 30: Stuttgart, Germany - Killersberg (tickets)
  • July 1: Frankfurt, Germany - Jahrhunderthalle (tickets)
  • July 2: Liepzig, Germany - Parkbuhne (tickets)
  • July 4: Munich, Germany - Zenith (tickets)
  • July 5: Berlin, Germany - Zitadelle (tickets)
  • July 6: Hamburg, Germany - Stadtpark (tickets)
  • July 10: Weert, Netherlands - Bospop Festival (tickets)
  • July 14: Bonn, Germany - Museumsplatz (tickets)
  • July 26: Leeds, England - O2 Academy (tickets)
  • July 27: Newcastle, England - O2 Academy (tickets)
  • July 29: Glasgow, Scotland - O2 Academy (tickets)
  • July 30: Manchester, England - O2 Academy (tickets)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Obituary: Joan Bonham passes away

Joan Bonham, mother of John Bonham
By Brian Gardiner

"I see you're still up to the same tricks," Joan Bonham told Robert Plant last October in Birmingham, England. The mother of Plant's ex-bandmate, John Bonham, was teasing Plant backstage at a Band of Joy concert.

Joan Bonham died peacefully this morning. She was 81. (Editor's note: I have received conflicting information about her birthdate and age, and I will be looking to confirm this information.)

Born in 1929, Joan had three children, Led Zeppelin drummer John (1948-1980), photographer and writer Michael "Mick" (1951-2000), and daughter Deborah (1962). She is predeceased by both of her sons and her husband, John Henry Sr., who died in 1998.

To help supplement the family income when she was younger, Joan ran a news store in Redditch. In the past few years she sang for the geriatric rockers The Zimmers.

In Ritchie Yorke's biography of Led Zeppelin, John Bonham credits Joan with starting him on drums. "When I was 10, my mum bought me a snare drum," he said.

The Zeppelin site Achilles Last Stand reports that Joan Bonham has been ill since Christmas, and died this morning in her sleep. She is survived by daughter Deborah; her grandson, drummer Jason Bonham; and granddaughter, singer-songwriter Zoe Bonham.

Condolences go out to friends and family of Joan Bonham.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Forthcoming Yardbirds box set combines unreleased recordings, photos

By Brian Gardiner

A 5-CD box set called The Yardbirds: Glimpses 1963-68 that has taken five years to compile is promising previously unheard tracks and an in-depth booklet with unseen photos. The set, to be released on the Easy Action Records label, is fully licensed by EMI, BBC and the Yardbirds.

For Led Zeppelin fans, and specifically Jimmy Page fans, this set offers a fair bit of Jimmy Page material, including "Stroll On" (the Yardbirds take' on "Train Kept a Rollin'" for the film Blow-Up), plus early versions of "Dazed and Confused" and "White Summer."

Easy Action Records
"White Summer," a Jimmy Page guitar instrumental, later became a live staple for Led Zeppelin.

(Editor's note: As this is the first Yardbirds-sanctioned release since songwriter Jake Holmes filed suit against Jimmy Page over royalties of "Dazed and Confused," it is interesting to note that this releases credits Holmes as author and the Yardbirds as arrangers. This is not the first Yardbirds release to do so; the releases in 2000 of Cumular Limit and Live Yardbirds! Featuring Jimmy Page also contained this credit to Jake Holmes with the Yardbirds as arranger, while Led Zeppelin releases have credited only Page -- or, sometimes, also Robert Plant.)

The audio also includes several interview clips from members of the Yardbirds, including three with Jimmy Page.

The last disc has live BBC material throughout the Yardbirds' career, including two appearances from the Jimmy Page era, in 1967 and 1968. The first disc also contains some BBC recordings with Page.

The box set is currently not available for ordering, and no release date is currently listed for the product.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Robert Plant returns to Letterman's Late Show for a chat and a song: Watch CBS tonight

This tip just came in from publicist Ken Weinstein in New York, where Plant stopped by last weekend for two shows at the Beacon while also taping a television appearance on Monday that will air tonight. Ken writes:

"Set your TiVos and DVRs!! Robert Plant and Band of Joy on Late Show with David Letterman tonight!!

"On the show, Dave interviews Robert Plant and he tells an awesome story about meeting Elvis Presley. (Dave is also pretty hilarious with Martha Stewart. Bizarre wackiness ensues!)

"Band of Joy will be performing Richard Thompson's 'House of Cards' from the new record, Band of Joy, out on Rounder records, tapes and 8 track.

Sent from an unspecified handheld device

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Robert Plant has robust U.S. festival schedule: Wanee, Jazz Fest, Bonnaroo, Telluride, and more?

By Steve Sauer

Robert Plant's robust U.S. festival schedule in the coming months may now include Bonnaroo in June, if a post-encore comment delivered two nights ago is to be believed.

A complete artist roster from the Bonnaroo Music Festival 2011 is forthcoming, but some artists have chosen to spill the beans early, making their own Bonnaroo confirmations public. As of Tuesday's sudden onstage announcement by Plant, his Band of Joy can now rank among acts who've gone that route, including Bruce Hornsby and the Gregg Allman Blues Band.

"We'll see you in summer, Bonnaroo. Come on down," Robert Plant invited his Washington audience from the stage of D.A.R. Constitution Hall around five minutes to 11 p.m.

(Unfortunately, Bonnaroo can't be considered a "summer" festival since it ends over the second weekend of June. Unless the Zodiac did something to the seasons, too ...)

(Oh, and then Plant made a geographical blunder, misdirecting D.C.-area concertgoers "across the Mason-Dixon Line," which would send them to Pennsylvania or farther north, whereas Bonnaroo takes place down south in Tennessee. Oh well, he gets a pass given where he's from!)

Since Tuesday, no other official announcement has been made about a Band of Joy appearance at Bonnaroo, although diligent online media have begun spreading word of Plant's proclamation. There is precedent for Plant making it to Bonnaroo; he and Alison Krauss performed in 2008. (Their Raising Sand tour also hit the Austin City Limits Festival in September that year.)

The addition of Bonnaroo (June 9-12) would keep the already-busy Band of Joy occupied a genre-crossing array of U.S. festivals this summer. They've already been booked to play the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado (June 16-19) as well as earlier appearances at the Wanee Music Festival in Florida (April 14-15) and Jazz Fest in New Orleans (April 29).

The Band of Joy's current U.S. tour, underway since Jan. 18, is now between shows in the South, with North Charleston in South Carolina on Friday, Atlanta on Saturday, Charlotte on Monday, and two final shows in Nashville on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Tour dates then continue for at least half the band as Buddy Miller and Patty Griffin take to the seas. Both are booked to play sets aboard the annual Cayamo cruise, departing Feb. 13 from Miami. Aboard the Norwegian Pearl headed returning from the Bahamas one week later, they'll be playing alongside such musicians as former Fairport Convention guitarist Richard Thompson, whose song "House of Cards" has become a Band of Joy concert standard.

Our exclusive on-the-spot concert report from D.C. first appeared online Tuesday night.

Any changes in the set list tonight, Roy? "Only all the time," answers Robert Plant's sound man. He says they rehearse the afternoon of every gig.
Tuesday at 8:49pm

Between the set from the opening act and the headliner, onstage is none other than Darrell Scott, soundchecking his lap steel on headphones. Meanwhile, this is the second Howlin' Wolf song played over the P.A. during the break.
Tuesday at 9:04pm

Before the show, someone asked me if Robert still uses incense at his shows like he did with the Strange Sensation. I wasn't sure, but now I am. The answer is yes. A crew member was just lighting them.
Tuesday at 9:10pm

They're opening with their dirty funky raw country-fried version of "Black Dog" tonight.
Tuesday at 9:14pm