Last Wednesday night, City Winery and Knitting Factory founder Michael Dorf staged his 14th “Music Of” charity tribute show at Manhattan’s venerable Carnegie Hall. After similar tributes to everyone from Bruce Springsteen to R.E.M., this time the honoree was Led Zeppelin. Dorf’s formula involves bringing in a killer house band and complementing them with a mix of moderately-to-well known artists who are typically passionate about the honoree. The sold out show survived a nor’easter and it doesn’t get much better than sitting on the plush seats of the acoustically perfect hall listening to twenty great renditions from the Mighty Zep catalog.
Most of the performances have found their way to YouTube (in varying sound quality). Here’s a look at some of the highlights:
J Mascis – Tangerine (Led Zeppelin cover)
Virtuoso guitarist and Dinosaur Jr. front man Mascis added a ripping solo to the Led Zeppelin III folk rocker. He was “assisted” here by singer John Petkovic’s energy and partial harmonies.
Nicole Atkins with Bustle In Your Hedgerow – The Rain Song (Led Zeppelin cover)
The accomplished soul singer and New Jersey native eased her way into the Houses of the Holy classic that kicks in hard at 4:44. She can wail and has been compared to “Roy Orbison, Patsy Cline and Janis Joplin all rolled into one voice.”
moe. – Hey Hey What Can I Do (Led Zeppelin cover)
The “preeminent progressive rock band” rolled out their mandolin and vibraphone for the popular 1970 B-side of “Immigrant Song.”
The Zombies – Thank You (Led Zeppelin cover)
Founding members of The Zombies Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone dedicated a touching piano rendition of the Led Zeppelin II track to band mate Jim Rodford, who passed away earlier this year. Iterations of the iconic psychedelic pop legends have now been performing for six decades. Audio-only here beginning at 1:40 but supplemented by some nice still photos from the evening.
Bettye LaVette – All My Love (Led Zeppelin cover)
The three-time Grammy nominee fronted the house band and turned the rock ballad from In Through the Out Door into a show-stopping soul burner.
Son Little – Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (Anne Bredon/Jimmy Page & Robert Plant cover)
The Philadelphia born R&B singer/songwriter joined the house band for an impassioned tribute to the classic track from Zeppelin’s debut album. (The YouTube video is mis-titled.)
Jackie Green – The Lemon Song (Led Zeppelin cover)
Solo singer-songwriter and former Black Crowes member Greene stepped to the mic for vocal duties on this blues jam from Led Zeppelin II alternating searing guitar riffs with house band member Andy York.
London Souls – Bring It On Home (Willie Dixon cover)
The down and dirty NYC guitar and drum duo brought grit and energy to the Led Zeppelin II version of the Willie Dixon blues thumper. Tash and Chris trade vocals and add an explosive jam halfway through. This was definitely one of the evening’s standouts.
Patty Smyth – Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin cover)
The former Scandal lead singer showed she still has chops on a solid homage to the colossal Led Zeppelin II classic. One wonders how much confusion it caused for the two Patti Smith band members in the house band to back Patty Smyth.
Living Colour – Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin cover)
These legendary New York City fusion rockers – with founder Vernon Reid and longtime members Corey Glover, Will Calhoun, and Doug Wimbish – also came to play hard during the evening’s penultimate performance from Led Zeppelin IV.
Shannon Conley – Kashmir (Led Zeppelin cover)
Former Lez Zeppelin singer Shannon Conley channeled her inner Plant as she joined the house band and six piece Ton Orchestra for a truncated but powerful version of “Kashmir” from Physical Graffiti.
Bustle In Your Hedgerow – We’re Gonna Groove (Led Zeppelin cover)
The lesser-known track from Coda was performed as a jazzy prog-rock instrumental. The more-than-a-tribute band was named after the Zeppelin lyric from “Stairway to Heaven” and is comprised of Joe Russo (drums), Marco Benevento (keys) aided by their Almost Dead band mates Dave Dreiwitz and Scott Metzger.
Joseph Arthur – Ramble On (Led Zeppelin cover)
The night prior to the Carnegie Hall performance, the artists played a rehearsal gig at the famed City Winery in Manhattan. Here we have gritty voiced singer Joseph Arthur – a 1997 discoveree of Peter Gabriel – with a solid version of “Ramble On.” from Led Zeppelin II starting at 1:23.
Ayron Jones – Since I’ve Been Loving You (Led Zeppelin cover)
Also from the rehearsal performance, the singer/songwriter/guitarist Jones jams with the house band on the Led Zeppelin III classic. Stand by for the insane guitar solos.
The House Band:
- Tony Shanahan – Music Director, Bass (Patti Smith Band)
- Andy York, Guitar (Patti Smith Band)
- Jackie Greene, Guitar (Trigger Hippy)
- Andy Burton, Keys (John Mayer, Cyndi Lauper, Rufus Wainwright)
- Dennis Diken, Drums (Smithereens)
- Grammy In the Schools
- Fixing Instruments for Kids In Schools
- Church Street School of Music and Art
- The Orchestra Now
- The Center for Arts Education
- Little Kids Rock
- D’Addario Foundation
- Sonic Arts For All!
- Midori & Friends
Top photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage.