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September 16, 2010 - Trisha Smith

Maui's Hardest Rockin' Pay Tribute to Zeppelin.

Trish rambles on…

Music is all around us, every day, in every moment, every breath, every step-there’s a rhythmic path we all walk along in life’s journey. And as Stevie put it so eloquently, “Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand.”

You get it?

Music brings people together in a special way like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. It transcends ages and years gone by, and captures unforgettable moments, as music tells a “story" in time.

“Well, this one time... ” “So, I knew this guy in a band… ” “She wrote this for him… ” “So, a buddy of mine had some extra tickets…” “I found my brother’s…” “Did you hear his guitar sing?” “Wait, who is this again??!” “This reminds me of… ” “So, we took some… ” "I dedicate this to... "

Or maybe that’s just me…

Whether it’s the artists’ tale or your own in relation to a song, band, genre or instrumental weapon of choice, music is how we share ourselves with the world and enjoy the groove of life. It’s how we relate to one another and within ourselves frequently, as it reaches inside of you and bares emotions you never realized you had. Working on tonight's Zeptember event this last month has reiterated my drive to do what I love as a writer and media professional, and fuels a fire in me to continue my journey to become a rock journalist extraordinaire. Haha, I have a long way to go, but it's been a beautiful ride here and abroad thus far. And "it's all about the music." (Thanks KAOI!)

I can remember the first time I heard Nina beg blissfully, Come Ye, and when Miles delivered me Blue in Green. I remembering discovering Ella’s sweet angst and smiling when Johnny first told me to “get rhythm” when I got the blues. And these are just of the few magnificent and timeless artists who “got it” before rip-roaring rock ‘n’ roll really slapped its awesomeness upon the scene.

I entered this world two months after, almost exactly to the day, that Led Zeppelin drum machine John Bonham “checked out early.” In fact, according to Chris Welch-a music journalist who went on tour with the group in the '70s and authored such books as Led Zeppelin: The Book as well as Dazed and Confused: The Story Behind Every Led Zeppelin Song-the remaining Led Zeppelin band member issued a press statement on Dec. 4, 1980 confirming that they would not continue without Bonham, and justly so.

“We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend, and the deep
sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led
us to decide that we could not continue as we were.”
Signed "Led Zeppelin.”

(Sidenote: Check out another great book on Led called Shadows Taller Than Our Souls by Charles R. Cross. Thanks KAOI Jim for suggestion!)

My father recalls that time in history, revealing how just four days later the world would lose one of its boundless revolutionaries, John Lennon, who was killed on Dec. 8, 1980. My dad said he not only realized one of his favorite bands’ tenure had ended with Zep’s news release, but that now also one of music’s greatest souls had been taken from him viciously-music would never be the same. He was crushed and “almost cried,” he said, although I presume he shed a tear or two,
knowing him.

I hate to reference Led Zeppelin-inspired cult films such as Almost Famous, but I just can’t help it in my cheesy nature at this time! The scene where aspiring music journalist William discovers a record collection from his older sister that will “set him free” mirrors moments in my youth so precious it’s hard not to relate.

Hidden within the chaos of my grandmother’s attic were, and still are, treasures unrevealed and stories untold. At the top of the list of the fondest moments in my youth is when my father-one of 10 offspring who had stellar music taste-handed me a stale cardboard box of vinyl and smiled as he introduced his "friends" to me. He said, “Have fun, baby. And, don’t bend the Clapton. My sister will kill me!"

Anyways, within this collection of vinyl, coupled with several Atlantic albums that sported the well-known “redish-orange” and green CD face which I “borrowed” from my older brother, I discovered a plethora of contagious music I can’t help but enjoy up to this very moment, including Led Zeppelin. I take pleasure in this memory-along with several others in my short, but plentiful, stint on this crazy planet-and remember how great it was when music set me free.

Yet, throughout my upbringing, as I started attending live shows of my generation-I still curse the day NKOTB entered my life-and collecting “cool tapes,” I found myself always going back to my father's “friends.” Whether it was Burdon, Clapton, Jimi, Richards, Page, the Allmans, Fleetwood, Dylan, Morrison (Jim & Van) or the Fab Four… I found comfort here among these “friends” of his. I remember him uttering his regards as he witnessed my interest with the ‘60s and ‘70s becoming mildly obsessive. “I’m sorry, baby girl, but you missed rock ‘n’ roll.”

I’m proud to carry on his love for classic rock and all the solid blues greats he celebrated, along with the Motown I found, although my mother “wasn’t exactly pleased” that I enjoyed it. “It’s not for a young girl’s ears,” she would say referring to Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gaye. Really mom? If only she listened to the rock music more, she probably would have noticed a common underlying theme of sex, drugs, booze and shenanigans as opposed to just making sweet, sweet love… Te he he...

I thank my “good friends” such as Miles, Ella, Stevie, Johnny, Nina, Jimi, and John, Paul, George and Ringo-and of course the best lyricist ever Bob Dylan-for sharing their gifts with me, and heck, most of them aren’t even around anymore, so I can’t tell them. I shall one day perhaps on the Stairway to Heaven... okay, okay, I gotta stop... Ha ha ha.

Luckily for me, I am able to appreciate the gifts of all the decades of innovative music granted upon the world before my time, as well as all the wonders I’ve cranked up in the decades that followed. In fact, here on Maui-which I call “The Isle of Low-Key Legends” from time to time-we have some pretty incredible musicians and songwriters that continue to make compelling, original music and for that, I say Thank You.

And as Almost Famous’ “Penny Lane” would say, us music lovers with lil or no actual music skills, are not groupies... groupies just want to be near someone famous… No, no, no-I am a bandaid… We are here for the music. We are here to provide inspiration…

Many ponder whether the members of Led Zeppelin were rock royalty, a band of “wanna-be” hippies or mystics, or just a bunch of flamboyant party animals that frequently gave hotel staff headaches and stole the purity of the young girls hanging about. Was it wild anthem rock over consistent technical precision that made so many turn away from Zep, as critics bashed the heavy riffer Page for “overproduction” in the studio and the “occult” nature of his art?

Others applauded him for his master recording skills that included layers and layers of guitar resonance many today still query, “How did he make that sound?” Were they eclectic storytellers that relayed a blunder of rhetorical tales or a
band that became the building block to multiple genres of music here
and abroad?

I say all of the above. And that’s why we are all still talking about them over 30 years later, and Led Zeppelin’s essence will span generations to come. Their lyrics couldn’t even shine a light in comparison to say Dylan or The Kinks' Davies, but their catalogue is undeniably iconic and fun, and memorable whether you like it or not. So let’s celebrate, shall we?

Here in paradise, a collection of amazing artists and music advocates have created an evening of epic proportions to commemorate the Led Zeppelin legacy that remains the same today. Join KAOI 95.1 FM and Mulligan’s On the Blue on Friday, Sept. 24, for “Zeptember.”

(Click on flyer to view more details, such as the list of Maui musicians performing.)

Music Director’s Final Tally for Zeptember as of today includes “9 Vocalists, 10 Guitarists, 3 Ukulele'ers, 1 Keyboardist, 1 Bass player and 1 Sick-Ass Drummer named Josh Greenbaum.”

Many mahalos for all the hard work that my musical mentor Scott Johnson of Dogtowne Design, Maui musician Murray Thorne and Ruth O’Keefe of KAOI did, along with ringleader Shawn Michael and other rock soldiers, to create this phenomenal evening of all things Zep-tastic. Kudos as well to the several music and arts advocates, and small business owners, across the isle who chose to back this special event. And thanks to all the great sponsors who supported this cool cause, including my paper, The Maui Weekly.

And to all the musicians, who amidst their regular gig schedules, made
time to join the hard yet fun work it takes and kudos for those who learned a new era of music. You won’t be disappointed…

Vince Esquire Band’s Shawn Michael and Josh Greenbaum will test their endurance this Friday, as they supply the backbeats on bass and drums,
respectively, throughout the entire Zeptember experience. I have no doubt they will persevere and deliver the breed of performance power the island music scene has come to appreciate from them.

In my opinion, Led Zeppelin made their most authoritative declaration
during live shows, and it’s going to be quite a treat to see polished Maui guitarist like Tom Conway, Nils Rosenblad, Phil Ellison and Esquire attempt Page’s classic riffs and pedal effects, while each add their individual panache to the performance.

It's cool, but you won't hear one of my favorite tracks at the show called Ten Years Gone, a numbing yet pleasant treat of life lessons and love, that was based on real event s in something to the tone of, “It’s me or your music and fans, Robert?” He made the right choice, as a true love would never make you choose.

The multi-talented John Paul Jones is noted for having played this Physical Graffiti delight with a unique triple-neck guitar during live shows that included a six-string, a 12-string, a mandolin and bass pedals. Yeah, so not sure if I would want to put Shawn Michael through all of that, so I will let it slide. :-) Plus, Page played “guitar god” per usual in production and layered four tracks to overdub the harmony. A bratty mastermind. (Check out Black Crowes with Jimmy Page
performing the track. Sound quality not so stellar, but you get the jist of its awesomeness. Search here:

I had hoped at least for a double-neck guitar treat, but with the awesome rhythm sections I’ve seen thus far coming together, I will count my blessings and not push too hard. It will be even better than I could have imagined.

And to celebrate the wail that Robert Plant so fervently added to Zep’s legacy, we have some stellar sets of pipes, including Joette Burke, Erin Smith, Mary Jane Babashoff, Jessica Rabbit, Kahala and many more.

Ironically and creepily, the date of the Sept. 24 event falls upon the exact date (U.S. time) of the 30-year anniversary of the tragic death of Zep’s iconic drummer, Bonham, who was found dead at the age of 32 from choking in his sleep after binge drinking. In fact, his son Jason-who has provided his fantastic drumming skills alongside the remaining Zep members on occasion-is holding a tribute to his late father in Los Angeles this weekend. Ours will be better... Ha ha!

A grand collection of sound, lights and staging will be provided by Pete Lago of Maui Wave Studios Kïhei. ( Thanks Pete for everything!

Oh yeah, and I’m acting as mistress of the mayhem, and I’ll be busting out some sweet Zep tidbits all night and keep the party rockin’ smoothly in Wailea. And Jack Gist from KAOI will jump onstage for a bit as well to thank everyone for being so groovy.

The LC is really cracking the whip these days,so the Zeptember show at Mulligan’s On the Blue will indeed start promptly at 9 p.m. Get there early people, dress lightly and become part of The Ocean of fans who appreciate quality musicians rocking out to some classic cuts.

Tickets are $15 at the door only now. Presale tickets got gobbled up like whoa! I told ya before-we’re not messing around… Get there early too people. Once again, this rock show of epic proportions starts at 9 p.m. sharp.

And let’s not forget the greatest element of this grand Zeptember entity. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the local sweetheart and talented journalist of Maui Time Weekly, Anu Yagi, to help out with her unprecedented medical costs. Insurance sucks, as does that dang C-word illness she bravely battles each and every day. Hopefully we can alleviate a bit of the treacherous costs of treatment that this special soul is unfortunately enduring.

And thank you, Anu, for our recent time together. Best dates I’ve had in years. I look forward to a long and sassy friendship. :-)

Some killer items will be up for grabs at a silent auction, including some signed Paula Fuga and Willie K goodies and a Fender signed by Iron Maiden’s own Dave Murray. So cool…

Grab your favorite tattered rock tee and some fun friends with the appetite to rock for Zeptember this Friday, Sept. 24, at Mulligan’s On the Blue.

And THANK YOU to all my musical "friends:" Shawn, Josh, Vince, Murray, Tom Co., MJ, Chris, Nils, Phil, John Carroll, Erin, Kaulana, Joette, Marci, Jessica, Kanoa, Ryan, Phil, Kahala, Darrin, Pete, Cheryl, Halemanu and Jack for bestowing your gifts upon us at Zeptember and at the plethora of performances you share your talent with us at across the isles, throughout the year.

You all continue to truly solidify the rapidly-growing consensus that “Maui rocks!” My gratitude for you all will transcend time.

“It’s all happening!”

Read my article here as well on Zeptember:


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Courtesy of Scott Johnson of Dogtowne Design