Stairway to Temecula: Led ZepAgain Plays Old Town
How many teenage boys have spent hours relentlessly laboring over the used guitar they mowed hundreds of lawns to purchase, just to finally squeak out the opening riff of “Stairway to Heaven?” What is it about this particular seventies rock classic that has inspired amateur musicians, makeshift rockers and air-band all stars all over the world?
With a tremendous admiration for the music of the legendary English group, Jim Wootten and his band mates have taken their love for Led Zeppelin to the highest possible level. They have made it their livelihood; joining the Los Angeles-based Led Zeppelin tribute band, Led ZepAgain.
“Each one of us were profoundly impacted by Led Zeppelin’s music from the first time that we heard it and when the opportunity arose to join Led ZepAgain, each of us jumped at the chance because of our intense love for the music,” Wootten, Led ZepAgain’s answer to Led Zeppelin’s original keyboardist, John Paul Jones, said during a recent interview.
Joining Wootten on stage at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater on Thursday, September 4th, is Led ZepAgain’s “Robert Plant,” Swan Montgomery.
“Singer Swan Montgomery is someone that is very passionate about his career in music. Not only has he been a successful performer in the tribute world, but he is also a very driven writer and composer of his own original music,” Wootten said.
Channeling Jimmy Page will be guitarist Jimmy Sakurai.
“Jimmy sets the bar for all tribute performers.” Wootten said. “His dedication, work ethic and attention to detail is unsurpassed. He is recognized worldwide for providing the most accurate and heartfelt portrayal of Jimmy Page.”
Filling in for the late John Bonham is Drummer Jim Kersey.
“Jim is a master musician who is very meticulous about learning material properly,” Wootten said. “He has a degree in music from Berkley and is very highly respected as being a very solid foundation for Led ZepAgain.”
Raised in a musical family, Wootten himself is an accomplished musician, covering bass, keyboards, mandolin, bass pedals, acoustic 6 & 12 string guitars and backup vocals.
Led ZepAgain first began performing as a tribute to Led Zeppelin in 1988, a time where this type of elevated cover band was virtually unheard of.
“It was a risky choice, as the ‘tribute’ thing was not popular at the time,” Wootten said. “Many dive bars and late-night gigs were played for free to get this band off the ground.”
Since their inception, Led ZepAgain has become one of the more respected Led Zeppelin tribute bands in the country. But, despite having the approval of the legendary group’s devoted fan base, it was a certain familiar guitarist who solidified their reputation as the best.
“We were given the stamp of approval from Jimmy Page himself, as well as having the honor of being invited to the Led Zeppelin Reunion Concert in 2007 from the band itself,” Wootten said. “That has given our band a sense of credibility, due to the fact that the original band has approved of our portrayal of them. No other Led Zeppelin tribute that I know of can make that claim.”
Even if you’re a diehard fan of Led Zeppelin and may be skeptical that anyone can possibly compare, Wootten and the members of Led ZepAgain are confident they are the next best thing to the original.
“Because of our great respect for Led Zeppelin, we have worked very hard to replicate a live Led Zeppelin show right down to the minute details; not only paying great attention to detail musically, but also using the same vintage gear and costuming that the original band used,” Wootten said. “We feel very confident that you will walk away feeling as if you had witnessed the closest thing to a Led Zeppelin concert you will ever experience.”