Get the Led Out: A Night of Led Zeppelin
9 p.m. Dec. 31 at Cosmic Charlie's, 388 Woodland Ave. $12. (859) 309-9499. Cosmic-charlies.com.
The plan was hatched about halfway through autumn, when Duane Lundy of Chico Fellini and Robby Cosenza of These United States were sharing lunch.
It wasn't a novel idea, especially. But it's one that had not been attempted very often in Central Kentucky. Lundy and Cosenza decided to round up some of their fellow Lexington artists for a New Year's Eve party at which they would, for the evening, leave their own music at home. Instead, they would ring in 2012 by playing, celebrating and bashing about with music by one of rock music's most profoundly inspirational bands: Led Zeppelin.
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In short, they plan to do exactly what the title of the program they will present Saturday at Cosmic Charlie's promises: to get the Led out.
"I thought it might be cool to do a covers thing because we all spend so much of the time with our own stuff," Lundy said. "A couple of times a year, it's nice to sort of dip into that other pool. We had done something similar with (David) Bowie in Chico a couple of years ago. So I sort of flippantly said it would be nice if we could do some Zeppelin. I'm pretty sure we could pull together a good crew. But I knew it would be a bit of work."
So Lundy and Cosenza — who would handle guitar and drum duties, respectively — enlisted Blake Cox from Killer Meteor on bass to round out the rhythm section and awarded the banshee vocals originated in Zeppelin 40 years ago by a young Robert Plant to Chico Fellini singer Christopher Dennison and vocalist Coralee from local Americana faves Coralee and the Townies. Veteran Lexington guitarist Willie Eames will open the evening with a set of acoustic Zeppelin tunes.
"I'm a huge Zeppelin fan," Lundy said. "For me, that's my desert-island band. And so we went ahead and took the attitude of, 'If you say you're gonna do it, it will happen.'
"This music is really hard, though. I've known all this stuff for years, but it's different when you sort of strap it on and go. The arrangements are very intricate. It's just that we've just been brainwashed with it, particularly people of our generation for whom this music has just been a staple. It never goes away. So you just take it for granted that it's something you can tackle. But then you get in with it, and you realize why Zeppelin is still so formidable."
The repertoire for Saturday's performance will cover songs from six of Led Zeppelin's eight studio albums (1976's Presence and 1979's In Through the Out Door didn't make the cut). Lundy compiled an initial set list and relied on each of the participating artists to add selections of their own.
"We went after the ones we felt we had to play. And then we went after a couple that we wanted to do just out of our own selfishness. Everybody came to the table with one or two choices. Coralee was staunch about a couple she wanted to do. So was I. We're the two biggest Zeppelin fans in the crew. The only song that we really wanted to do but because of the pace of the night, because it is New Year's Eve, decided not to was Since I've Been Loving You.
"I'd like to reprise this show a couple of times throughout the year just to spend time with these people and play. So we will probably hit that one eventually. That one, we felt, might be a little heady for New Year's Eve."
"When I grew up in the '80s, Zeppelin still had a presence. Fortunately, their influence did not get diminished by the number of bad bands that copped their style. Their music has always held up. It has never aged badly because Zeppelin never became a creature of the technological moment."
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Cosmic Charlie's isn't the only local music haunt that will allow local acts to moonlight as cover bands on New Year's Eve. Over at The Green Lantern, 497 West Third Street, two Lexington ensembles will continue a dual tribute to a pair of rock and grunge favorites that they have put onstage several times over the fall. Welcome, Strangers will perform a set devoted exclusively to the music of Weezer. Completing the double bill will be Fuzzwood, which will offer a full set of music by Nirvana. (9 p.m. $10. (859) 252-9539.)