A couple of touring tribute bands hit the Twin Cities in late June. Zoso pays homage Led Zeppelin at Mill City Nights and perennial favorites Dark Star Orchestra do their Grateful Dead thing at The Cabooze.
Zoso: The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience is Matt Jernigan as Robert Plant, John McDaniel as Jimmy Page , Adam Sandling as John Paul Jones and Greg Thompson as John Bonham and they do one hell of a job of recreating Zep. They look just like ’em and, right down to Plant’s trademark histrionics and frantic, shrieking vocals and Page’s I-got-it-all-under-control posturing, play just like ’em. If you’re a fan of the original band, these guys are right up your alley, especially Jernigan and McDaniel, who have strong enough chops in their own right.
For a preview Google up You Tube and you’ll find at least a half dozen live performances, including, of course, classics like “Whole Lotta Love” and “Stairway To Heaven”, which, by the by, has raised a whole lot of sand lately. Surviving members of the old band Spirit are suing surviving Zeppers and Atlantic Records for copyright infringement. They can get in line. Everybody from blues immortal Howlin’ Wolf to obscure folky Anne Bredon and back have laid legitimate claim to songs that made Zep famous.
When the lights go down and the music comes up at Mill City Nights, nobody is going to give a damn. They’ll be too busy enjoying Zoso.
If want to flush Twin Cities stoners out of the woodwork, produce a Dark Star Orchestra concert. Trust me, walking through the doors at The Cabooze will be eerily like stepping into a time machine and going back to the 60s. There’ll be tie-dye, earth mamas, the whole nine. On top of which, it’ll take place outdoors, on the plaza, just the crowning touch you need to have a Summer of Love happening.
They go around the country, recreating song for song, set lists from historic Dead shows. And are aces at it. Highly recommended: the 3-CD release Ithaca 30 Years Later which has fine renditions of “Not Fade Away” and “Morning Dew.” “Morning Dew”, by the by, absolutely faithful to the spirit of things, goes on for 15 solid minutes.
The Dead were, of course, the first jam band and there are a handful of outfits out there who do a good job of carrying on the tradition. None with any more authentic artistry than Dark Star Orchestra. Take it from no less an authority than Donna Jean Godchaux-McKay, who sang with the Dead and constantly shows up at DSO gigs. “Playing with Dark Star Orchestra,” she says at the band’s website, “is something that feels just exactly like it felt when I was playing with the Grateful Dead.” ‘Nuff said.
June 26: Dark Star Orchestra at The Cabooze, 917 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis, 6 p.m., Tickets: $30.
June 28: Zoso: The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience at Mill City Nights, 111 North 5th St., Minneapolis, Tickets start at: $18/Adv, $20/Door
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