Getting the Led out 

Zeppelin tribute band finally off the ground

You need coolin’

Baby I’m not foolin’

I’m gonna send ya

Back to schoolin’

— from Whole Lotta Love, Led Zeppelin II

Who: Whole Lotta Led

Where: Boot Pub

When: Sept. 16

There’s a whole lotta love.

And then there’s a Whole Lotta Led, a new Zeppelin cover band who perform this week at the Boot Pub.

"We chose them because they’re the hardest to master," says Greg Reamsbottom, who handles vocals for Whole Lotta Led.

The members of Led Zeppelin apparently chose the band name after someone predicted they would go over like a lead balloon. But after the British band made their U.S. Debut in Denver on Dec. 28, 1968 the band’s popularity "spread like wildfire," guitarist Jimmy Page said.

"We were given a chance in America," Page added. "It was just a joke in England… they wouldn’t accept anything new. It had to be the New Yardbirds, not Led Zeppelin."

Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham incorporated elements of the blues in their music and their covers, which have created the lasting Zeppelin sound.

"They took classic blues songs and made them heavy at the time, blues songs like The Lemon Song," says Phil Richard, who joins Tom River, J.P. Trottier and Reamsbottom to make up Whole Lotta Led.

"It’s one of those bands you’re super familiar with, but very few people take it on," says Reamsbottom. "Those guys are half the reason why people get into music.

"A lot of musicians love to play it, but a lot of vocalists have a hard time playing it."

The four members of Whole Lotta Led have been rehearsing madly to bring out the Zeppelin hits, including Out on the Tiles, The Rover, and a "crazy version of Dazed and Confused with a violin bow on the guitar.

"The music arrangement is quite extravagant," says Richard, who has been playing Zeppelin covers since he moved here in 1993.

"Gutsy, hard-rockin’ blues is what this band is about!"

Whole Lotta Led has been about two years in development, after a few lineup changes made for a bumpy start.

The seed for the dream cover band was born when Richard saw a Montreal show by tribute band The White, who also did Led Zeppelin covers.

After coming to Whistler Richard was playing but couldn’t find the right singer.

"Phil heard me singing as the Hairfarmers, and it bloomed from there," says Reamsbottom.

The pivotal place Led Zeppelin holds in rock ’n’ roll history seemed a good enough reason for Richard to keep playing.

The band mainly plays tunes from the first five Zeppelin albums, songs that don’t have as much keys in their sound as did later works.

"They were a cornerstone for the way that rock ’n’ roll turned out today," said Richard.

"Without Zeppelin you wouldn’t have bands like Deep Purple, the first to play using a double bass."

In some cases, the song does remain the same.


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