Kashmir to deliver authentic tribute to iconic Led Zeppelin

Kashmir to deliver authentic tribute to iconic Led Zeppelin at Levoy Friday


Jean Violet made a serendipitous discovery when he started to bleach his hair. “The more I lightened my hair, the more people thought I looked like Robert Plant,” Violet says. “So it was perfect.”Perfect, indeed, as Violet happens to play the “Plant character” in his own Led Zeppelin tribute band Kashmir.Violet, who grew up listening to The Beatles but was turned on to Led Zeppelin by his sister during his college years, has played in bands since his art school days, even getting signed to a Japanese record label in the 1990s.



For fun, he and his friends decided to put together a Led Zeppelin tribute band called Time of Dying, which played for years in New York City from tiny bars down on Bleecker Street to center stage at Madison Square Garden. They chose Led Zeppelin because they thought it was a good band to play that was rather challenging.“The music is just so hard and so versatile,” Violet says. “They do everything from heavy metal to country/Western to R&B … and there’s so much to listen to, so many good songs.”


Time of Dying eventually disbanded, but the urge to continue playing Zeppelin music lingered for Violet, so in the early 2000s he formed Kashmir, his latest Led Zeppelin tribute band which comes to The Levoy Theatre in Millville, 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 23.Despite the success of Time of Dying, Kashmir had to start from the bottom up, beginning with playing at bars to eventually headlining at big events such as festivals and in theaters across the country.“Now that we play festivals and large events — we see kids, grandkids, parents, grandparents — it’s a multi-generational crowd. We see them all at the same time. That’s almost impossible to find these days.”Violet claims that every Zeppelin tribute band out there has its own “schtick.” For Kashmir, it’s just all about providing the most realistic live experience for their cross-generational audience.“One of the things we focus on is bringing our audiences back in time and giving them the experience that we call ‘the live Led Zeppelin show,’” explains Violet, who performs vocals and plays harmonica in the group. “The younger people come up and say it’s the closest thing they’ll have to seeing Zep live. The older ones ,who have seen them play live, say if they close their eyes it’s like they’re back at a real Zep show.”


Keyboardist and bassist Hanemann is the most recent member to join the group, and Violet couldn’t be happier for that.“Felix comes from the multi-platinum band Zebra, which was known to be the next Led Zeppelin back in the ’80s,” he says. “He’s the perfect John Paul Jones.”As for what songs audiences can expect to hear, you can pretty much count on “Kashmir,” “Black Dog,” “D'yer Mak'er,” as well as “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You,” a particular favorite of Violet’s which, he says, “the crowd goes crazy over.”


But don’t expect to hear “Achilles Last Stand,” an almost 10 1/2 minute-long song that Violet says should really just be reserved for die hards.“I like it, but it’s really only for hard core fans,” he says. “Ninety percent (of the audience) don’t even know what it is. It’s a very long song, one of their ‘prog rock’ (progressive rock) songs. It took us a month-and-a-half to learn it, and when we played it, people looked at us like, ‘What?’ They didn’t know it or understand it.”Violet, whose primary source of employment is as a digital art director for a financial corporation in Virginia, claims that he and the rest of the band are really just “weekend warriors” with “real day jobs.”To that end, he assures that neither he nor any of the other band members actually think they are the “real thing.”“You get so many tributes where people think that they really are them. We don’t,” Violet says. “But it’s the closest thing to going to a live Led Zeppelin performance.“We try to bring the music and the live show with visuals, lasers, the equipment — and I even look like Robert Plant. We try to make it the closest live Zeppelin show you’re going to see.”