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Led Zeppelin 2 takes a reluctant role as a cover band

Patrick Dunn
Special to The Detroit News

Fifteen years ago Chicago guitarist Paul Kamp says he “couldn’t stand cover bands,” but these days his professional career is devoted to impersonating Jimmy Page in the tribute act Led Zeppelin 2.

Kamp and his bandmates in the Chicago progressive-rock group Busker Soundcheck first impersonated Black Sabbath at a Halloween event in 2002, winning appreciation from fans and even noted rock critic Jim DeRogatis. After reprising the Sabbath performance on a few occasions, the group tried a Zeppelin act in 2003 to even greater success. Led Zeppelin 2’s profile slowly rose in Chicago and the group began touring nationwide in 2010.

“We were an unlikely group of people to do it because we never aspired to do it,” Kamp says. “It just happened.”

However, in a sense, Jimmy Page was the role Kamp had been preparing for his whole life. As a teenager, Kamp cut his teeth listening to old blues recordings and trying to copy the licks, as did Page, Eric Clapton and countless other classic rock guitarists. He taught himself to play obscure acoustic tunes from “Led Zeppelin III” and also developed a fascination with playing his guitar with a violin bow, as Page famously did.

“There were a lot of things that I was doing, not necessarily by design, that ended up coming in handy now that I’m emulating Jimmy Page’s live performances,” Kamp says.

Led Zeppelin 2 will help set the classic rock mood at the Stars and Stripes Festival on July 1, when they’ll open for Styx. The band isn’t fixated on replicating the original Zeppelin music note for note, however. Kamp says he and his bandmates have both distinguished their act and kept things interesting for themselves over the years by playing Zeppelin’s “deepest and hardest cuts” and adding their own improvisational twists night after night.

“We still laugh every time we get our getup on and walk onstage,” Kamp says. “But overall it really is just a lot of fun.”