Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Jason Bonham: Heartless?

It appears when Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience takes to the stage in Florida on June 17, it will be without a key member: Keyboard/lap steel/guitar/mandolin player Stephen LeBlanc has been told the tour can't afford a keyboard player.

Stephen LeBlanc in Full Phantom of the Opera mode

Jason's Led Zeppelin Experience (JBLZE)  will be touring in a supporting role for Heart beginning June 17th, and continuing August 30th in Portland. The show will consist of JBLZE opening the show, and then joining Heart onstage for a 30-minute encore set of Led Zeppelin songs as a finale.

The practical effect of what the LeBlanc snub means is that JBLZE will play rockers such as Rock and Roll, Black Dog, The Immigrant Song and Whole Lotta Love to open. Any keyboard songs, such as Kashmir, Since i've Been Loving You and Stairway to Heaven will happen in the encore when Heart's keyboard player, Debbie Shair, will be onstage with the band. Likely any acoustic songs will also happen then, when LeBlanc's mandolin can be filled by guitarist Tony Catania while Heart's Nancy Wilson and Craig Bartock take the guitar parts (speaking of the latter, thinking it through, does anyone else expect a Battle of Evermore/Stairway to Heaven finale?).

It's a sad day for Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience to see LeBlanc, in his own words, "thrown off the bus."


Update: Elly LeBlanc weighs in:
This is NOT JBLZE without Stephen LeBlanc...it's a reprehensible decision...and after three years of contribution...Jason or whoever made this decision is a fucking idiot... Stephen didn't do anything other than his best to make what is essentially a fucking tribute band, (albeit probably the best Zep tribute band out there, with Stephen in it) better. Yes it does hurt... it always hurts when people are treated unethically and led to believe they are part of the band, particularly after three years of hard work.



Wyatt said...

That's really unfortunate. It's Jason's name on the marquee, and I guess he can run the show how he wants, but it can't do much for band morale (if he cares about that) when the members are treated like interchangeable (or unnecessary) parts. Stephen provided important elements of the band's sound and overall presentation. I wish him well.

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