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Led Zeppelin tribute band Kashmir to open Classic Fest at Nelson Ledges

By Kelly Maile | Record-Courier Published: June 6, 2013 10:54 AM

New York City band Kashmir, the nation's No. 1 ultimate Led Zeppelin experience, is the closest you will get to seeing Led Zeppelin on the national touring scene. With its mesmerizing solos and Theremin spells, the band has taken crowds into other dimensions, making fans feel as if they are actually at a live Zeppelin show.

Kashmir, along with Several Species Pink Floyd tribute, War Pigz, Ball-n-Chain, Ragged Glory and Limelight, will gather for Classic Fest at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park, 12001 Nelson Ledge Road in Garrettsville, this weekend.

When Kashmir's lead vocalist Jean Violet steps on stage, he transforms into Robert Plant.

"We've all done our research," Violet said. "You get the mannerisms down. When I'm playing, I try to picture myself as him. You want to act and think like you're him, but especially at Nelson Ledges a lot of my original style comes out. I'm really big into transferring energy back and forth to people and I think Led Zeppelin was into that, too."

Like a Zeppelin show, Kashmir's performance is not just about the music, it's about the whole vibe of the event.

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"Back in the '70s, that's all anyone did was go to concerts," Violet said. "It wasn't just the album itself. It was going to the concert, it was seeing the guys, it was smelling everything in the air. It's about all the senses. We try to stimulate everything. It's funny. We get a lot of people in their 60s come out and shake our hands and say, 'you brought me back in time to when I saw Robert Plant' or we get kids that are age 15 that say, 'this is probably the closest I'll ever be to seeing a Led Zeppelin show.'"

With the playlist of every classic rock station and the most identifiable voice in rock history, Kashmir's show features Page's iconic double-neck guitar, Bonham's drum solo, the stage show of the era, and most importantly, the greatest hits that make up the soundtrack to peoples' lives.

"We have the fog, we have the lasers and we have the crazy Bonham solo that Jimmy Page used to do," Violet said. "Led Zeppelin was known for going off into jam tangents and we jam. When the guys start to go off and get into little clicks, we might drag a song on a bit longer or I might throw a couple other lines in there. We go off the vibe or what we call, 'in the zone.'"

Violet said the crowd is as much a part of the show as the band.

"The crowd gets to sing and interact with us," Violet said. "A grandparent can bring his kid and then that guy can bring his kid and you can have three generations all sharing the same experience and having a good time, which is almost impossible to do now."

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Violet started Kashmir more than 10 years ago.

"I used to play in a band called Time of Dying," Violet said. "When we weren't playing and when we were in New York, we would play in a Led Zeppelin cover band for fun. I saw the potential, so I decided I wanted to take it further. I started playing outside of the city and as time went on it just kept building."

The band features vocalist Jean Violet as Robert Plant, guitarist Andy Urban personifies the wizardly Jimmy Page, drummer Paul Cooper as John Bonham and bassist and keyboardist Felix Hanemann, former member of Zebra, as John Paul Jones.

Violet started singing as a kid.

"I used to work in Rochester, New York and I was a big Beatle fan," Violet said. "I started singing Beatles songs on the radio on this thing called the Barsky talent hour. Me and my brother, we kind of got famous on the radio and then in high school I was in a rock band."

After his first musical endeavor, Violet formed Naked City, which later became one of the hottest hard-rock bands on the early 90s N.Y.C. circuit.

"We almost got signed, but then the band broke up," Violet said. "I ended up getting signed to a Japanese record label. They flew the band out and we toured Japan and the U.S."

Although he has played in numerous bands, Violet said he has always been drawn to Zeppelin.

"I figured it would be fun," Violet said. "It's not easy music to play or sing, but we had such a huge response. My hair is really brown, but the more I colored my hair blonde the more gigs we got and the more money we got and then I started to realize how much I look like Robert Plant."

Kashmir has been playing Nelson Ledges for eight years.

"We started playing on the side stages," Violet said. "It's one of our favorite places to play because it seems like you actually do go back in time at Nelson Ledges. It's almost like if you went to Woodstock. The people are friendly and it's probably the best crowds when it comes to the energy level. Every time we play there, it's been an amazing experience. Everything clicks. We give our best show and the crowd gives us their best. It's just all good."

Joe Pirtz, manager of Nelson Ledges, said this is the 11th year of Classic Fest.

"It brings all the classic rock bands that everyone loves from the area," Pirtz said. "It's based off Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, the best classic rock bands around nationally."

The idea for the fest formed after the passing of Jerry Garcia.

"We started throwing festivals back in '97," Pirtz said. "With classic rock it's real simple because we all love classic rock, so why not do a fest with all of our favorite bands."

Pirtz said the live performances are phenomenal.

"It's the music and the energy that you feel," Pirtz said. "There is a tangible energy that goes between the musicians and the audience that you can always feel. It's just a phenomenal experience."

Pirtz expects around 3,000 people to be in attendance at the fest.

"I think it's a celebration of life," Pirtz said. "It's one of the best ways you can get together. This world is extremely stressful and there's so many different things right now that are bringing people down and we all need it."

Tickets to the fest are $60 and include camping all weekend long.

For those who dream to experience a live Led Zeppelin show, dream no more-Kashmir and all your favorite classic rocks bands will take the stage Friday through Sunday at Nelson Ledges.

For more information, call 440-548-2716 or visit nlqp.com.

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