WHAT IS AND WHAT SHOULD AL­WAYS BE

LED ZEP­PELIN NEVER TRIED TO COPY THEM­SELVES, SO JOSEPH CALDERAZZO’S WHOLELOTTALOVE TRIB­UTE TAKES A SIM­I­LAR AP­PROACH THIS SEPTEM­BER, HON­OUR­ING THE MU­SIC ACROSS NSW WITH­OUT THE DRAGON SUITS AND PRINCE VALIANT WIGS. WORDS BY PETER HODG­SON

Australian Guitar - - Feature -

Aus­tralia’s long­est-run­ning Led Zep­pelin trib­ute is back af­ter a year­long hia­tus, and it’s go­ing to be worth the wait. Whole

Lot­taLove is packed with world class mu­si­cians per­form­ing Led Zep­pelin clas­sics with aug­mented in­stru­men­ta­tion and an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the mu­sic-as-a-liv­ing-thing na­ture of Zep’s mu­sic. Founded by gui­tarist Joseph Calderazzo, it’s not an in-cos­tume, “Imag­ine you were there” type trib­ute show. The band in­cludes a string sec­tion to evoke the mys­tique and ex­pan­sive­ness of Zep­pelin’s sound on songs like “Stair­way To Heaven”, “Kash­mir”, “Black Dog”, “Bat­tle of Ever­more” and “Im­mi­grant Song”, to name just a few.

“This is the 16th year I’ve done this show,” Calderazzo says. “It’s an an­nual event, not a trib­ute band that goes and plays in the pubs. It’s very strictly an an­nual event, and we only play three or four shows in big­ger the­atres when we take it out on the road.” Calderazzo doesn’t use per­ma­nent play­ers for the show, pre­fer­ring to see who’s avail­able to make each year a unique ex­pe­ri­ence. “This year we’ve got Gor­don Ryt­meis­ter on drums, but in pre­vi­ous years, we’ve had play­ers like Lu­cius Borich and Peter Drum­mond. We’ve got Dario Bor­tolin from Baby An­i­mals on bass – he’s done this gig on and off, but we haven’t had him for a few years; it’s nice to have him back. Glenn Moor­house will be play­ing gui­tar with us as well. He worked as the mu­sic di­rec­tor on Green Day’s Amer­i­canI­diot stage show, and he’s done a few things with us. We’ve got Char­maine Ford, our pi­ano vir­tu­oso, Lozz Ben­son from That Red­head on per­cus­sion, I’ve got three string play­ers from the Syd­ney Opera House, and on vo­cals, we’ve got Steve Balbi from Noise­works and Mi-Sex, plus Dal­las Frasca, Mark Da­costa and Ni­cole Hawkins.”

It’s im­por­tant to Calderazzo that the show isn’t seen as a cos­tumed, in-char­ac­ter trib­ute (not that there’s any­thing wrong with that). Zep­pelin was never about straight em­u­la­tion, even when they were lean­ing heav­ily on ex­it­ing blues songs. “We make sure we cover all the el­e­ments of what they did, so we use a man­dolin and acous­tic gui­tars, and be­cause there are two gui­tar play­ers, we can cover more of Jimmy Page’s stu­dio parts. But it’s not all rock, is it? They were cov­er­ing a lot of dif­fer­ent sounds with what they had. I think it was brave for them to do acous­tic stuff, es­pe­cially live, be­cause back then they just had mics in front of the gui­tars. It’s a wide gamut to cover within the one con­cert. We’ve had a lot of singers do the show – we used Dave Glee­son one year and he said, ‘I just can’t get this Robert Plant thing at all.’ I said, ‘Dave, I didn’t book Robert Plant, I booked Dave Glee­son.’ And then he got it , and it was amaz­ing.”

Calderazzo isn’t con­sciously copy­ing Jimmy Page’s gui­tar rig, but his in­flu­ence has crept in. “We use Gib­sons and Teles, which just works, but it’s funny be­cause when I bought my 12-string acous­tic, the guy in the shop rang me up and said, ‘I know you’re look­ing for a 12-string acous­tic, and I’ve got one that I think you’re gonna like.’ It was one of two Ma­tons made for Jimmy Page when he vis­ited in the ‘90s, and this is the one he re­jected, as such. So the guy rang me straight away, and I stopped to get the money out on the way. I picked it up and played it, and the rest is his­tory! So I hap­pen to have that just by co­in­ci­dence. An­other lit­tle co­in­ci­dence is that a good friend of mine who does work with us is a bit of a col­lec­tor, and he has a Gib­son Jimmy Page Les Paul–the Mark I model that was made in 1995, with the push-pull pots. It’s just an amaz­ing gui­tar. I don’t specif­i­cally try to copy his sounds, nec­es­sar­ily, in fact it prob­a­bly sounds a bit more generic be­cause we’re not try­ing to em­u­late them. But we are rev­er­ent with what we do, and there’s noth­ing dress-up about it.

“I don’t know how much Les Paul Jimmy used in the stu­dio any­way,” Calderazzo con­tin­ues. “He used a lot of Tele­caster. I guess the film The

Song Re­mains The Same is the rea­son a lot of peo­ple as­so­ciate the Les Paul with Jimmy Page, but he used so many dif­fer­ent things. I re­mem­ber when a friend told me the ‘ Stair­way To Heaven’ solo was played on a Tele – I lis­tened closely and re­alised, ‘Oh, of course it is!’”

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