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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Zoso keeps the Led Zeppelin torch burning

Zoso is a Led Zeppelin cover band that has been rocking since 1995. The musicians will perform Friday at the Knitting Factory.  (Courtesy)

Like many Led Zeppelin fans, James Volpe Rotondi couldn’t help but notice when Spokane South Hill’s Myles Kennedy was invited by Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones to London to jam in 2008. There was considerable buzz around the legendary members of Led Zeppelin forming a band without vocalist Robert Plant, who was emphatic about not resurrecting the act.

Kennedy flew out to London and performed with his heroes. Nothing of note came from the sessions. Many rock fans were disappointed.

“If something happened, it would have been very interesting,” Rotondi said, while calling from Pawling, New York. “I believe Myles Kennedy is one of the most talented musicians to play in the rock world. Myles is a great guitarist and an incredible singer. Myles is a lethal talent. I get why Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones asked him to come out and play with them.

“It’s a shame nothing came of it since people love Led Zeppelin. People want to hear Zeppelin songs live.”

Rotondi knows, since he is the Zoso guitarist, a veteran Zeppelin covers band that formed in 1995.

“There’s a huge demand for Zeppelin music,” Rotondi said. “We do all that we can to deliver.”

Zoso, which will appear Friday at the Knitting Factory, appeals to casual and diehard Zeppelin fans, since the hits are mixed in with the deep cuts during their two-hour sets.

“We’re well-versed with more than five hours of Led Zeppelin material,” Rotondi said. “We play it all.”

Zoso, which includes vocalist Matt Jernigan, multi-instrumentalist Adam Sandling and drummer Bevan Davies, kicks off almost every show with the Zeppelin classic “Rock and Roll.”

“That’s what Zeppelin did in (the film) ‘The Song Remains the Same,’ ” Rotondi said. “Then mid-set we play ‘Kashmir’ and we always close with ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ since that’s the biggest song ever.”

However, the Zoso setlist changes every night.

“We like to mix it up,” Rotondi said. “We’ll play things like ‘The Immigrant Song,’ ‘Going to California’ and ‘Over the Hills and Far Away.’”

Unlike a lot of their peers, Zoso doesn’t play to a click track.

“What we do is all organic,” Rotondi said. “Everything we do is genuine. We make our own sounds.”

Rotondi has played in a number of original bands, such as straightforward rockers the Cringe. However, Rotondi always makes time for Zoso, which is a word and design made up by Page.

“Zeppelin has the songs I want to play,” Rotondi said. “The songs have these amazing grooves and they also rock. Zeppelin functions on many levels. Their songs are full of heart and emotion. Robert Plant was a nature poet. It’s very metaphysical. There is so much to wrap your head around.

“Led Zeppelin was a progressive rock band, but you never notice it, since they rock so hard. I love being part of bands that play original songs but there is just something that always pulls me into Led Zeppelin. It’s about Jimmy Page. My adoration for him goes well beyond his guitar playing. I think he’s one of the most fascinating men in the world and Led Zeppelin is the most fascinating band.

“A lot of people agree with me, since so many Zeppelin fans support Zoso and bands like us. A big reason is that no one wants to let the Zeppelin live sound die. We’re doing our best to keep it going.”