Monday, February 28, 2011

John Paul Jones Composing Opera

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Hot off an on-stage part in the Royal Opera's,  Anna Nicole: The Party Always Ends, Led Zeppelin bassist 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.

The Judge's Wife will feature a libretto by Amanda Holden. Jones' friend Gerald Thomas will direct the opera, which is set for a fall 2013 production.  Stuart Stratford will conduct.

Thomas' current play, Throats, features a piano composition by Jones. Throats is playing at the Pleasence Theatre, London until March 27th. Anna Nicole, The Party Never Ends has two more performances, Tuesday March 1 and Friday March 4th at the Royal Opera House.

In December, Jones and Thomas met at the Hoxton Hotel in London to discuss the opera project. They recorded the meeting, and released a YouTube video of it.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Black Country Communion 2 Complete

Mastered and ready for June release, Black Country Communion’s 2nd album, BCC2, is longer, harder and darker, according to singer and bassist Glenn Hughes.

[caption id="attachment_975" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Photo used by permission"]Picture used by permission[/caption]

“BCC 2 70 mins. Long. A Rock ‘n Roll Rollercoaster… organic… darker than “1”… my darkest lyrics since Addiction,” said Hughes via Facebook. (Addiction was Hughes 5th solo album. Released in 1996 it is the album that is regarded as his heaviest, both musically and lyrically. Many of the songs focus on Hughes drug addiction that he experienced through the 1980’s).

On Thursday, Hughes mentioned he had a mastered CD in hand. This comes after commenting that “BCC has given me a new belief in Rock ‘n Roll…” And yesterday (Friday Feb 25), Hughes comments that:
Joe Rocks [sic] harder than ever… and I get to sing some desperate blues… this album has woken the Rock

Hughes is not the only one excited about BCC 2. Kevin Shirley is reported to have said it’s the “best album of his career.” The Caveman, Kevin Shirley, has himself said on Facebook, “…it’s sounding awesome. Anyone ready for some big Bonham drums.”

Desperate blues, Joe Bonamassa rocking hard and big Bonham drums. Sounds like BCC2 is an album to look forward too.

Leaving behind recording, Black Country Communion announced their first two North American shows this week. BCC will perform two shows in California before beginning their European tour in June, appearing in San Diego June 9th and Anaheim June 10th. More shows will be announced.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Led Zeppelin On Your iPhone

This Day in Music has released their first band specific iPhone app, This Day in Led Zep. It is chock-a-block full of information, supplanted bzepp1-2y some ill advised music clips.

The fundamental purpose of the This Day in Led Zeppelin app is the daily diary portion, Zeppelin On This Day. It has three or four items every day, chronicling, according to the writers of the app, “every gig the band ever played, including set lists, recordings, gigs, TV performances.”

The items in the diary are fairly comprehensive, covering individual members before Led Zeppelin, and after as well as, of course, during the Led Zeppelin years. For example, here’s today (note: this post was actually written on Feb 8):
The Band of Joy, featuring John Bonham and Robert Plant, made their first London appearance, supporting Edwin Starr at the Marquee Club in London, England.

Led Zeppelin played the second of two nights at Kinetic Playground, Chicago during the bands first North American tour.

Led Zeppelin appeared at the Spectrum Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to 20,000 fans during a North American tour…

‘Raising Sand’ won Robert Plant and Alison Krauss Grammy Awards for all five categories in which it was nominated…

If the daily Zeppelin diary was all this app did, it would still be good. But there’s more. Trivia covering subjects from Them Crooked Vultures live debut (Aug 9, 2009) to Andy Johns’ and Sandy Denny’s relationship with Led Zeppelin.

iphonead_53The Zeppelin Quiz offers ten question quizzes of Zeppelin trivia (I regularly get 8 or 9 out of ten, being unable to answer British specific questions like who’s version of Whole Lotta Love starts Top of the Pops).

There is also direct links to the Led Zeppelin online store, each members personal webpage and some non-Zeppelin ringtones and wallpaper.

My favourite part of the app is the Song Notes, offering songs listed by albums with notes on every Led Zeppelin song. Each note covers any stories around the song, recording notes on the song and covers of the song among others. If you have that song on you iPhone, it links directly to it, or offers you an option to buy an mp3 through iTunes.

The This Day in Led Zeppelin app is not without it’s flaws. I could live without the music clips, all non Led Zeppelin. When you get a correct answer on the quiz a guitar riff that sounds more like one of Bill and Ted’s more excellent moments than anything Jimmy Page ever played. The ringtones sound like a bad 80’s imitator of Led Zeppelin, although the riffs themselves are Led Zeppelinesque enough. However, if you can’t use Led Zeppelin music in a Led Zeppelin app, it’s probably best to use nothing at all.

My other complaint is the Daily Zeppelin Diary’s lack of connectiveness with the rest of the phone. You should be able to cross the apps information with the calendar or have a daily pop up giving the day’s events without having to specifically open the app.

That aside, the This Day in Led Zeppelin app is a solid addition to my iPhone that I find I have been checking daily. It’s available for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch and can be downloaded via iTunes

Live Black Country Communion Download

joebiogUK radio station Planter Rock has made available a download of Black Country Communion performing Black Country/One Last Soul to VIP members. The track was recorded at the album release party for specially selected guests at John Henry's in London last September. It is produced by Kevin Shirley, and available only through Planet Rock.

To download, go to Planet Rock's VIP section and register. Registration is free and once your have conformed your registration, you can download the tracks.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mr. Porter Man of Note: Robert Plant

Mr. Porter is an online fine men’s wear store. Working with leading designers such as ChloĆ©, Marc Jacobs and Stella McCartney. The web based retailer offer customers access to clothing lines from over 300 designers.

Mr. Porter has an advertising campaign called Men of Note. The most recent Man of Note: Robert Plant.

Featuring a rather elegant black and white picture of a casual Plant in a jacket (over an unbuttoned short and black t-shirt), the advertisement gives five songs Plant is listening to these days:

Five tracks the rock legend is giving a ‘Whole Lotta Love’ to…

As the lead singer of legendary rock band Led Zeppelin for 12 years, and an award-winning solo artist for nearly three decades, you might say that Mr Plant, knows the odd thing about good music. Here he explains why the tracks below are on his playlist right now

  • Early Spring Till: Nathaniel Rateliff

  • Lines in the Sand: MONA

  • The Rumble: Link Wray and His Ray Men

  • Ticket Taker: The Low Anthem

  • Home in Your Heart: Solomon Burke

Robert Plant on PBS

PBS, the American public broadcasting channel, will be featuring Robert Plant and the Band of Joy in an upcoming show.

101201-robert-plantLive from the Artists Den features concerts in unusual and intimate settings. The third season will kick off with Elvis Costello at the New York Public Library.

Robert Plant and the Band of Joy were filmed at the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville on Feb 9th. It was the last show of the winter leg of the Band of Joy's North American tour. The tour continues in April.

Past artists featured on Live at the Artists Den include The Black Crowes and Band of Joy singer Patty Griffin. Also appearing on season three is A Fine Frenzy, the former band of Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience utility player Stephen LeBlanc.

No date yet has been announced for the Robert Plant performance. Robert Plant and the Band of Joy will be on Artists Den April 22nd.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Robert Plant visits BBC’s Chris Evans Breakfast Show

Robert Plant spent an hour sitting in with Chris Evans on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC radio this morning. Plant is in London between legs of his American tour, a tour schedule that is, apparently, dictated by the Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club.

[caption id="attachment_956" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Robert Plant and Chris Evans"]Robert Plant and Chris Evans[/caption]

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 who was better, 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 sound-checks, 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

BCC2 Smokin' Hot?

Glenn Hughes was heading to Producer Kevin Shirley, aka The Caveman's, studio to record vocals for the last two songs of Black Country Communion's second album. bccuktourUpon arriving at "The Cave", Shirley discovered a fire:
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" He has previously said of BBC2 it is his "proudest musical moment," and "it has been a wonderful experience." On Kevin Shirley, Hughes said he is the "best producer I have ever worked with."

BBC2, which is so hot it fried a soundboard, is due for release in June.

Alison Krauss Speaks to Rolling Stone

Last month, Robert Plant told Rolling Stone Magazine that a second album with Alison Krauss had been planned but, “The sound wasn’t there.”

61cczi-lvl_sl500_aa300_He was referring to sessions on the follow up 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.

They traded compliments in their Rolling Stone stories as well, Plant saying:
Alison’s the best. She’s one of my favourite people.

Krauss is more backhanded in her return compliment:
He’s a delightful person, and I’ll never meet another like him.

Krauss’ new album, Paper Airplane is available April 12th. It is their first album since 2004’s Lonely Runs Both Ways.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Anna Nicole: The Opera

The Royal Opera’s Anna Nicole premiered last night, 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.

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Composed by Mark-Anthony Turnage with libretto by Richard Thomas, the prospect of an opera on the life of Anna Nicole Smith seems unlikely. It is not, however, unheard of for an opera to be based on a real life 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.

One-hundred and fifteen years later composer Francesco Cilea with a libretto by Arturo Colautti premiered Adriana Lecouvreur about 18th century French actress Adriana Lecouvreur. A plot of love, anger, intrigue, greed and finally, the heroines death, Adriana Lecouvreur, and Don Giovanni, are stories similar to the more modern, but no less operatic Anna Nicole Smith’s.

“The plot is of a complexity that I think is dangerous in a opera,” novelist and opera aficionado/librettist Robertson Davies once wrote about John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles. 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 life is suitable to opera, but was justice done to it through 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…

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:
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.

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All pictures courtesy of Inter Mezzo

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jason Bonham touring with Paul Rogers

While waiting for Black Country Communion to release it’s second album and begin touring in June, Jason Bonham will not be lounging around the house waiting for the unemployment cheque. Bonham will be touring the UK with Paul Rodgers in April.

Rodgers, who has previously been with Free, Bad Company, The Firm and Queen will be touring the UK in support of his upcoming solo CD, his 31st album.

Joining Rodgers on the tour will be Bonham on drums, Heart guitarist Howard Leese and bassist Lynn Sorensen.

Rogers played the O2 arena during the Ahmet Ertegun tribute concert, at which Led Zeppelin reunited in 2007, and later toured with Queen, fronting the band where the late Freddie Mercury once did.

Tickets are ₤34.50 regionally and ₤32.50, ₤37.50, ₤40.00 and ₤50.00 in London from Live Nation.

Tour dates are:

  • April 15 - Black Pool – 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 Pavilion

  • April 27 – Lonodon – Royal Albert Hall

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Them Crooked Grammy's

Them Crooked Vultures, featuring Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, drummer Dave Grohl and guitarist/singer Josh Homme, have won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance for the song New Fang. The Grammy was awarded 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 Grammy’s: Best Americana Album, which was won by Mavis Staples for You Are not Alone; Best Solo Rock Performance, which was won for Helter Skelter from Good Evening New York City.

In other awards, former Yardbird and childhood friend of Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck won three Grammy’s, Best Pop Collaboration; Best Pop Instrumental Performance; Best Rock Instrumental Performance.

Robert Plant’s band mate in Band of Joy, Patty Griffin, won a Grammy for Best Tradition Gospel Album for Down Town Church. T-Bone Burnett, who produced Plant’s Grammy winning album with Alison Krauss, Raising Sand, also won a non-broadcast Grammy for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture for The Weary Kind from Crazy Heart.

Friday, February 11, 2011

BCC II Video

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

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Joan Bonham (1929 - 2011)

l_6b03195e90e34ba195473f11e9dbb183“I see your still up to the same tricks,” Joan Bonham told Robert Plant last October in Birmingham. The Mother of Plant’s ex-bandmate, John Bonham, was teasing Plant backstage at a Band of Joy concert.

Joan Bonham died this morning. She was 81.

Born in 1929 Joan had three children, Led Zeppelin drummer John (1948 - 1980), photographer and writer Michael (Mick) (1951-2000) and daughter Deborah (1962). Sadly, 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 York’s biography of Led Zeppelin, The Led Zeppelin Biography John Bonham credits Joan with starting him on drums:
When I was 10, my mum bought me a snare drum.

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.

Robert Plant on HDNet Promo

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Band of Joy go to College

The US festival season is shaping up and Robert Plant and the Band of Joy will be major participants.

The Band of Joy will headline The Allman Brothers Wanee Festival in Florida April 14-16. Two weeks later on April 29, they will play the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. June 16 - 19 sees The Band of Joy playing the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Tellerude Colorado.

As well as those announced dates, unconfirmed reports have The Band of Joy playing The Bonnaroo Festival June 10 - 13. These reports began when Plant said from the stage last week in Washington:

“we’ll see you in the summer, Bonnaroo,”

No acts have been officially announced for Bonnaroo to date.

The latest festival to book Robert Plant and the Band of Joy is MerleFest on May 1st. Merlefest is “traditional plus” music festival as well as a fundraiser for Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro NC. Founded in 1988, “traditional plus” means “traditional music of the Appalachian region plus whatever other styles we were in the mood to play.”

Traditional music and whatever we were in the mood to play sounds a lot like Robert Plant’s thing. The Band of Joy should be a good fit at Merlefest.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Brent Johnson: Future Led Zeppelin Roadie

When Robert Plant wrote Houses of the Holy to describe the arenas were Led Zeppelin fans would flock to bear witness to the Zeppelin, he may never have known how close he was to the truth. Here in Canada those hockey rinks are the temples that offer service to our national religion: hockey.

Hockey is so woven into our national identity, and fighting is the heroic swordsmanship of our crusaders. When two goalies decide to have at ‘er, it is like a pair of Bishops bopping each other with their crosier. So this week when the New York Islanders’ Rick DiPietro gave a forearm to Pittsburg’s Matt Cooke and Pittsburg Penguin goalie Brent Johnson skated the ice to take on DiPietro, it went viral.

Skating down the ice Johnson peeled off his mask and threw it on the ice.

Johnson’s Led Zeppelin I mask.


23Johnson is known for his Zeppelin based masks, and has a number, including the "Stairway" mask:


Notice the opening line of the song Stairway to Heaven is written on the back

And my favourite, the Physical Graffiti mask:


Brent Johnson, NHL goalie who wears his Led Zeppelin fandom on his mask. And, if they ever get around to that whole reuniting thing, front of stage roadie in training.

New Yardbirds Boxset

Easy Action Records is set to release a 5CD box set on the Yardbirds called The Yardbirds: Glimpses 1963-68.

ears035The set is promising previously unheard tracks and unseen photos in an in depth booklet. The set is also 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. White Summer was a Zeppelin live staple and appeared in altered form of the first Led Zeppelin album as Black Mountain Side. The set also includes two Jimmy Page interviews broken into three parts.

The last disc has live BBC material throughout the Yardbirds career, including two performances from the Jimmy Page era.

The Yardbirds: Glimpses 1963-68 took five years to compile and is not available to order as yet.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Robert Plant on Lettermen: The Video Evidence

Robert Plant tells the story about meeting Elvis.

More about Plant's appearance on Letterman here.

"THAT, is music!"

Friday, February 4, 2011

Robert Plant on David Letterman

Robert Plant entered the Late Night With David Letterman soundstage on Broadwayand 54th street to the sound of Good Rockin’ at Midnight. letterman1“The Honeydrippers, I played on that with Robert,” said Late show bandleader Paul Schaffer.

Plant talked about his early influences, hearing himself on the radio for the first time (“hey, that’s me,”) and meeting Elvis Presley. Elvis, he told Letterman, was very aware of his imitators. I could relate, he told Letterman:
Through the 70’s everybody took their shirt off, but they just didn’t have the chest for it.

The story ends with Plant and Presley singing to each other, a few sentimental tears being shed.

After a break, Plant sang House of Cards. Somewhat unusually for Letterman’s show, he did not sing with Shaffer’s house band but was joined onstage with his own Band of Joy.

That is music,” Paul Schaffer said when they were done, while Letterman had an offer for mandolin playing Buddy Miller: “you come work for me,” he told him, “I’ll buy you a real guitar.”

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Robert Plant and the Band of Joy on HDNet

On Sept 2 last year Robert Plant previewed his new album and band, both called Band of Joy, at the HMV Theatre in London’s Kentish Town. The album, which has been nominated for two Grammy Awards, has been a critical and commercial success, was released 11 days later.

In October The Guardian Newspaper in England ran a series of five videos, one per day from the show. Now HD Net in the United States will be showing the concert on Sunday Feb 20 at 8:00 PM (EST).
Robert Plant ploughs his way through a tight and seamless set spanning the last three decades of his career, before finally rewarding his steely following with a raw but nevertheless on-the-money version of "Gallows Pole", which leaves the crowd chanting for more.

The concert will be rebroadcast Feb 21 at 1:30 AM

Here’s the setlist from that show:

  • Down to the Sea

  • Monkey

  • House of Cards

  • Please Read the Letter

  • Misty Mountain Hop

  • Rich Woman

  • Somewhere Trouble Don‘t Go - Vocals: Buddy Miller

  • Twelve Gates to the City

  • All The Kings Horses

  • A Satisfied Mind

  • Move Up

  • Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down

  • Central Two-O-Nine

  • Angel Dance

  • Houses of the Holy

  • Tall Cool One

  • Over The Hills and Far Away

  • Gallows Pole

  • ***********Encore**********
  • Harm‘s Swift Way

  • Rock and Roll

  • Goodnight