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Maui pays tribute to Led Zeppelin.

September 23, 2010
Trisha Smith

I attribute Eric Clapton’s tenacious disposition during the mid-60’s “British Invasion” to the formation of one of history’s most prominent bands: Led Zeppelin.

A “blues purist” at heart, Clapton faced one of his many career “crossroads” on The Yardbirds’ commercial avenue to success as they skewed from their rhythm and blues base. Clapton laid down the lead guitar track for The Yardbirds’ major hit For Your Love just before leaving the group “in protest to their forays into pop/rock.”

A fiery-eyed rebel named Jeff Beck replaced Clapton in 1965 at the suggestion of the band’s first-pick—a young, promising session player named Jimmy Page. Page later joined the whirling line-up as a temporary bassist and handled twin lead guitar alongside Beck, which enabled him to grow musically. Page began developing his own power riffs, wah pedal effects and production skills he would later champion.

Article Photos

String session. Notable Maui guitarists (left to right) Tom Conway, Nils Rosenblad and Murray Thorne (far right) rehearse recently at Maui Wave Studios as Zeptember Music Director Shawn Michael (second from right) smoothes out the edges for the epic rock ‘n’ roll showcase this Friday at Mulligan’s On the Blue.
Photo: Trisha Smith

The disorder of The Yardbirds in the ’60s launched the careers of Clapton, Beck and Page—three of rock’s greatest living guitarists (electric blues/rock wizards such as the late Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan remain the greatest ever to many).

Page and session musician John Paul Jones recruited members that included then-unknown Robert Plant and his childhood friend John Bonham in 1968. These “New Yardbirds” would soon take on the explosive name of Led Zeppelin (see debut album cover), a term reportedly ripped from sarcastic commentary by The Who’s Keith Moon and John Entwistle.

Whether you consider the flambouyant quartet of Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham the most loved or the most controversial band ever, the truth be told—Led Zeppelin transcends time.

They established the concept of “album-oriented rock,” initially refusing to release popular songs as singles. As heavy metal and hard rock originators, their broad influence spans several genres.

Although critically “unacclaimed” initially, their commercial achievements are beyond impressive, including selling hundreds of millions of records worldwide. Their live showcases were some of the most outstanding in history. Classic compositions such as Ramble On, Dazed and Confused, Kashmir and the indomitable Stairway to Heaven will remain in memory banks and pop culture for generations to come.

Here in paradise, a collection of amazing artists have created an evening of epic proportions to honor and celebrate Led Zeppelin’s legacy. Join KAOI FM and Mulligan’s On the Blue on Friday, Sept. 24, for “Zeptember,” as “Maui’s Hardest Rockin’ Pay Tribute to Led Zeppelin.”

Zeptember Music Director Shawn Michael and a cool group of art advocates developed a live show where diverse acts and small businesses can express a Whole Lotta Love of all things Zep.

Vince Esquire Band (VEB) “bassist extraordinaire” Shawn Michael and drummer Josh Greenbaum will provide the backbeats throughout Zeptember, throwing in a few surprises here and there to keep the Led love rocking.

Ironically and at first unbeknownst to organizers, 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. I predict VEB will pound out a grand “Bonzo” orchestration in honor of Bonham, with the proficient Greenbaum no doubt walking the line between genius and madness.

Expect Esquire to provide some “schoolin’” in guitar and ‘ukulele dexterity during Zeptember, and his Kankekoa bandmate, Kaulana Kanekoa, to add his special finesse on ‘ukulele and vox on a few sweet favorites.

Celtic Tiger Murray Thorne has a couple classics up his sleeve, securing some of the evening’s bodacious anthems, and Halemanu Villiarimo will undeniably warm souls with an acoustic ‘ukulele treat.

The sultry playfulness that drives songstress Mary Jane Babashoff tackles a “golden” opportunity for a “country-infected hoedown” with Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, a notable, often misspelled, track off Led Zeppelin III that was written at the legendary Welsh country home, Bron-Yr-Aur, where Page and Plant creatively collaborated in 1970.

Kanoa (Owaila, Gomega) applies his versatility to a few choice selections, and Throwdown Erin Smith’s earnest swagger will “may-kah” move with a rendition off Houses of the Holy.

Zeptember at Mulligan’s is also slated to include the excellence of guitarists Tom Conway, Phil Ellison, Nils Rosenblad, Pete Sebastian and Chris Sendrey, and vocal talents of Joette Burke, Marci Olson, Kahala, Jessica Rabbit and Cheryl Rae. KAOI’s Jack Gist adds a little “blues harp” flair as well.

Groovy sound, lights and staging are provided by Pete Lago of Maui Wave Studios Kihei, and yours truly, “Trish the Dish,” will keep the good times rolling as Zeptember’s emcee. Also, a portion of the proceeds will benefit Maui sweetheart and music advocate Anu Yagi to alleviate unprecedented medical costs.

Zeptember starts promptly at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15 at the door; $10 presale tickets are now available island-wide at Wow-Wee Maui’s Kava Bar in Kahului, 808 Deli in Kihei, West Side Vibes in Lahaina, Wings Hawai‘i in Pa‘ia, Requests Music in Wailuku and Mulligan’s in Wailea.

Call 874-1131 and visit Maui Weekly’s (an event sponsor) “The Dish From Trish” blog for more Zep-tastic information.



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