Bonham’s band not just a tribute act
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. » Jason Bonham, son of legendary Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, will be in the Spa City on Saturday at Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience will open for Whitesnake and Foreigner at Saturday’s SPAC show, the second night of The Juke Box Heroes Tour.
This is Bonham’s second consecutive summer touring with Foreigner, a band that he was once part of during a three-year stint as their drummer.
Bonham and Foreigner’s manager go way back, he explained. “He’s known me since I was four, and then managed me in my early career as well, until I caused him high blood pressure and heart problems,” Bonhamjoked. “We go way, way back.”
Being where he is today, playing in the Led Zeppelin Experience and opening on a tour with Foreigner - all happened to Bonham’s own surprise.
Starting the Led Zeppelin Experience band “took a lot of persuading,” Bonham said. At first he thought starting a Led Zeppelin tribute act, after having the honor of playing with the original members, was a terrible idea.
Bonham came around to it, however, after realizing he could share a more personal Led Zeppelin story than any other tribute band. “There’s a lot of talking involved, and storytelling and we show old home movies,” he said. “It becomes a long, three hour very personal journey of growing up around that.”
When Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience was first asked to join Foreigner on the road for a summer tour, he didn’t think that would work either, as the band would be going on during daylight hours and playing a short set. Take away the big screens, and “It’s purely down to us playing the music to the best of our ability,” Bonham said.
When the group did just that on the 2017 summer tour, fans loved it. “Last year proved me wrong,” Bonham said. Every night at 7 p.m. - “I mean, who goes to a concert at seven o’clock,” Bonham said - concert-goers were there waiting and ready to see Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience.
“It was very humbling to walk on the stage,” he said. “I had that English attitude of ‘ Yeah, well, I think it’s going to be half empty, you know.’ And it was full every night. I was proved wrong. Obviously the love for the music, the fans, are there. So, thank you, it was wonderful.”
Based on last year’s suc- cess, Bonham and his band are back at it again for summer 2018. This time with Whitesnake in the mix as well.
Bonham is thoroughly enjoying his time on the road with Foreigner, and seeing much more of the country than he did in his early days of touring. His wife will often plan side trips in between the shows. With a few days off in upstate New York after the SPAC concert, Bonham is sure they’ll do some exploring. “Obviously the venue, when we first got there last year, that was a beautiful area,” Bonham said, but they didn’t have much downtime to check it out. “This time we’re going to try to get in there and hang around awhile.”
Along with Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience, Bonham has a handful of other musical projects, including one with Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony and another with Joe Bonamassa and Glenn Hughes. “I find it really refreshing to play with different projects, different people,” Bonham said.
So he keeps busy yearround, but for now the focus is Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience hitting the road with Whitesnake and Foreigner. “The bags are on the end of the bed all put out, ready to go,” Bonham said Wednesday, just before embarking on tour - and he’s excited about it.
“I feel very, very privileged, blessed that I still really enjoy playing drums,” Bonham said. “Until I can’t play, I’ll keep playing.”
Drummer Jason Bonham, son of late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, plays in Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience, which will open for Whitesnake and Foreigner on Saturday at Saratoga Performing Arts Center.