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Freaky Friday: Dread Zeppelin

Posted by purplemary54 on April 5, 2013

Have you ever said to yourself, “Self? You know what this world needs more of? Led Zeppelin songs covered reggae style, sung by an Elvis impersonator.”  Well, then Dread Zeppelin is the band for you!

Dread Zeppelin are actually something of a legend here in SoCal.  They’ve been around since the late 80s, playing small clubs and other venues.  (I seem to remember they used to have an annual New Year’s Eve show.)  They’ve actually released several albums, some of which feature originals alongside Zeppelin covers. They’ve also been known to incorporate other classic rock covers into their shows, but at heart, they’re a Led Zeppelin tribute band.  Jimmy Page and Robert Plant have even gone on the record as fans of Dread Zeppelin.

Tribute bands are weird.  (If the existence of Dread Zeppelin wasn’t evidence enough of that, then check out Mini Kiss, a Kiss tribute band made up of little people.) They don’t seem to be good enough to create their own original art, but at the same time, the best tribute bands put their own creative spin on someone else’s work.  This isn’t parody, like Weird Al Yankovic, or just your average bar/wedding band playing stale retreads.  This is true musical love, taken to a slightly obsessive extreme.  It almost seems like you haven’t made it as a rock act unless you have a (semi)famous tribute band.  Zeppelin seems to inspire the most creative versions of themselves.  In addition to Dread Zeppelin, there’s also Lez Zeppelin, an all female tribute band.  (They’re pretty darn good, too.)  This is more than just rehashing the past.  This has become a way to rewrite the past.  These tribute bands have somehow found a way to remake the images of their favorite artists to include themselves.  It’s like fanfiction, only with songs.  The best tribute bands don’t slavishly recreate every single note (something Beatles cover bands in particular are guilty of).  They find a way to make the music fit their vision of the world.  And really, when you get down to it, isn’t that what all great artists do?



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