Stairway to heaven in your own backyard: Summer concerts in the Valley for classic rock enthusiasts

Lez Zeppelin members, from left, Joan Chew, Marlain Angelides and Steph Paynes at the Iron Horse in Northampton.

Lez Zeppelin members, from left, Joan Chew, Marlain Angelides and Steph Paynes at the Iron Horse in Northampton. PHOTO BY PAIGE HANSON

Steph Paynes, Lez Zeppelin lead guitarist, on stage at the Iron Horse in Northampton.

Steph Paynes, Lez Zeppelin lead guitarist, on stage at the Iron Horse in Northampton. PHOTO BY PAIGE HANSON

Violent Femmes will perform at Pines Theater in Look Park on Aug. 13 and 14 at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 5 p.m.

Violent Femmes will perform at Pines Theater in Look Park on Aug. 13 and 14 at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 5 p.m. COURTESY DSP SHOWS

Hawks & Reed Performing Center in Greenfield will be showcasing a performance by Deadgrass, a string band covering the songs of Jerry Garcia and Grateful Dead, on July 12 from 8 to 11:30 p.m.

Hawks & Reed Performing Center in Greenfield will be showcasing a performance by Deadgrass, a string band covering the songs of Jerry Garcia and Grateful Dead, on July 12 from 8 to 11:30 p.m. COURTESY HAWKS & REED

By PAIGE HANSON

For the Gazette

Published: 06-21-2024 10:30 AM

Last week in Northampton, Lez Zeppelin, an all-female Led Zeppelin tribute band, rocked the stage at Iron Horse Music Hall, bringing an electric and mesmerizing performance to the packed audience.

“We are just true to the spirit of the band, which is very forceful, powerful and sexual,” said Lez Zeppelin’s guitarist, Steph Paynes. “It’s quite stunning and surprising to people, even the most die-hard Led Zeppelin fans and to the young girls that come see us. It’s super revolutionary.”

The members of Lez held their Iron Horse audience fully captivated and in awe, especially when, on “Dazed and Confused,” Paynes brought out the iconic double-head, red guitar and used a violin bow on her other single-head guitar, just as Led’s guitarist Jimmy Page would have in the 1970s.

Marlain Angelides, the dynamite lead vocalist with neon-blue hair, dazzled song after song, with a seemingly endless amount of energy.

“I love Aretha Franklin, Annie Lennox and Ella Fitzgerald. Those are my big female icons. I have Chris Cornell as my male icon,” she said. “I’m taking all of that power and trying to just utilize that in whatever format it comes out.”

The band’s cohesiveness is also due to their friendship off stage. “The respect that every individual musician in this band has for each other plays a very big part in being a band as well,” keyboardist and bassist Joan Chew said. “That’s why we can create all that there is. Everybody is so respectful.”

Leesa Harrington, Lez’s drummer, is currently on an extended medical leave and was unable to make the Iron Horse hit. In her stead, the band hired David Richman, who, according to members, is “the only guy who’s allowed to play with Lez Zeppelin as he lives, breathes, eats Bonham.”

Although technically a cover band, Lez Zeppelin packs their own punch.

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“I know this sounds pompous but I don’t think anyone else out there is doing what we’re doing,” Paynes said. “There’s nobody willing to jump to take this music that’s so revered and step out with it. You’ve got to take risks to get to that point.”

Lez Zeppelin is currently on tour, with dates in eastern Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island. They do not have another local show listed on their calendar at the present moment.

But classic rock enthusiasts in western Mass need not despair. There are a host of heavy bands performing locally this summer that might be of interest to you.

Strange but not a stranger

Slippery People, a nine-person Talking Heads cover band, will perform at the Marigold Theater in Easthampton on June 28 at 8:30 p.m., with the bar opening at 7 p.m.

The ensemble comes complete with supplementary percussion and featured vocalists, focusing on the “Stop Making Sense” era of the Talking Heads in their performance. Despite this, Slippery People still throws in a few recognizable hits and niche pieces from the “Burning Down the House” band.

Members of Slippery People include Kevin Harris (lead vocals), Michael Stapels (piano and synths), Ivan Fargo (guitar), Dave Beattie (guitar and synths), Zach Yee (bass and synths) and Kevin Beattie (drums) with additional backup vocals by Caitlin DeRocker and Rachele Wright.

Both advanced and door tickets cost $15. Tickets are available, along with additional information, at Marigold Theater’s website.

Ripple in still water

Hawks & Reed Performing Center in Greenfield will be showcasing a performance by Deadgrass, a string band covering the songs of Jerry Garcia and Grateful Dead, on July 12 from 8 to 11:30 p.m.

Deadgrass draws inspiration from all of Jerry Garcia’s repertoire, including his time from Old & in the Way to Grateful Dead, giving new life to Garcia’s timeless songs. Members of Deadgrass include Matt Turk (vocals), C Lanzborn (guitar), Dave Richards (bass), Boo Reiners (banjo) and KensukeShoji (fiddle).

Advanced tickets are $25 and day-of-show tickets are $30. Tickets and additional information can be found at hawksandreed.com.

Blister in the sun

One of the most infamous alternative bands of the 1980s, Violent Femmes, will perform at Pines Theater in Northampton’s Look Park on Aug. 13 and 14 at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 5 p.m.

The band was founded in 1981 as an acoustic punk band. The Violent Femmes skyrocketed to fame after being discovered by Chrissie Hynde, the lead singer of the Pretenders, who asked them to open for a Pretenders show in their hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This performance put the Femmes on the map and they have been touring worldwide ever since.

Their eponymous debut album, which was released in 1983, became the first and only album in Billboard history to enter the charts with a platinum certification eight years after its initial release.

General admission tickets to their Pines Theater show cost $49.50 and VIP Experience tickets, only available for the Aug. 13 performance, cost $129.00. VIP tickets include a “Photo opportunity with Violent Femmes life-size cutouts.” Additional information can be found at dspshows.com.

Going up the country

On Aug. 22 from 7 to 9 p.m., Walter Trout of Canned Heat will perform at Iron Horse Music Hall.

Trout has been gaining recent success due to his latest album, “Broken,” which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Blues Chart. The album chronicles subjects such as politics, economics, social media and culture wars.

“I’ve always tried to write positive songs, and this album is not quite that,” Trout said. “But I always hold on to hope. I think that’s why I wrote this album.”

Tickets range from $33 to $42 and can be purchased at ironhorse.org.

UMass Amherst journalism student Paige Hanson is Arts & Features intern for the Gazette and Recorder.