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article imageLed Zeppelin tribute band Zoso makes show musically the real deal

By Marcus Hondro     May 12, 2013 in Entertainment
A simple gig at the Cotillion in Wichita, Kansas Saturday lead to the Led Zeppelin tribute band Zoso being profiled in the Wichita Eagle. The profile, by writer David A. Maurer, gives a great insight to the work needed to get as good as Zoso is.
Maurer spoke with Matt Jernigan, who has the job of 'being' Robert Plante, and he says Zoso has challenging but rewarding work. “They’re a very tough band to pull off musically. There was no band like (Zeppelin). Not only were they unique, they created great, complicated, well-thought-out compositions," the singer told Maurer. “We try to put people in the whole experience of what it would be like to see Led Zeppelin in concert. That’s what we were told we would have to do."
From blues band to tribute band
In 1995, by happenstance the year Led Zeppelin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Jernigan and bandmates John McDaniel (the Jimmy Page in the show), Adam Sandling (bass man and keyboardist John Paul Jones) and Greg Thompson (the late-drummer John Bonham in the show) were a blues band running out of gigs.
Their management in L.A. suggested becoming a tribute band and they figured why not. Led Zep seemed a natural choice given that the music the four bluesmen were playing at the time had a connection and that they'd all grown up listening to the real deal.
“Getting into the acting part of things was totally new to us," Jernigan said. "Of course, we were performers on stage, but to try to emulate a particular person was another thing - and something none of us had done before. And doing Robert Plant is really tough.
"But the main thing for us was to get the music down first. You can look like and act like the band members all you want, but if you don’t get the music down, it’s pointless.”
Zoso: 18 years as Led Zeppelin
Eighteen years later and they've built a rep as one of the best tribute bands going. They keep it honest, sticking with just the 4 members like Led Zeppelin did. They aren't the only four-piece Zeppelin tribute band, another is Lez Zeppelin, a New York Zeppelin tribute band that is made up of 4 females. But there's enough gigs for both, and others, and Zoso has a hectic touring schedule year-round.
Besides the Cotillion, Wichita's 'Round Mound of Sound,' a room Willie Nelson, Muddy Waters, Louis Armstrong and other big names played, Zoso tours the U.S.and out of country. Gigs this month include The House of Blues in Myrtle Beach, S.C., the Jannus Live in St. Petersburg, Fl., the New Daisy Theatre in Memphis, Tenn. and the Revolution Music Room in Little Rock, AR. In June, besides U.S. gigs, they'll be in Brazil and Argentina.
“There are other bands out there trying to do this, and some have six or seven guys," Jernigan said. "We stay within the form of re-creating what it would be like seeing the four musicians. I think that makes it far more authentic."
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