The March 22 concert at Pala Casino’s Infinity nightclub was the first performance in San Diego County for the Led Zeppelin tribute band Zeppelin USA and likely the final appearance with Zeppelin USA for John Paul Jones equivalent Jonathan Gilcrest.
Gilcrest is a full-time member of the Las Vegas-based band Yellow Brick Road and will be focusing on that band. “Between his regular schedule and the distance, it’s been a real challenge to make this work for him,” said Brody Dolyniuk, who performs Robert Plant’s role in Zeppelin USA. “We knew that coming into the project, but we initially were just doing this for fun and then of course it began to take off rather quickly, so we are going to have to find a permanent replacement.”
Dolyniuk, who now lives in Mission Viejo, formed Yellow Brick Road in 1997. That act began as an Elton John tribute band, but in Yellow Brick Road’s early years the band often played three or four sets. “We began adding other material from groups like Pink Floyd, Kansas, Led Zeppelin and others from the era in our later sets,” Dolyniuk said. “Soon it became apparent that the other classic rock material was growing our crowds more than the Elton John set, so we eventually phased that out and just became a classic rock tribute but kept the name.”
Gilcrest still lives in Las Vegas. Dolyniuk left Yellow Brick Road in 2011. Zeppelin USA was formed in January 2013 and also includes Steve Zukowsky representing Jimmy Page along with drummer Pat Leon. Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham died in 1980, after which the surviving band members scuttled Led Zeppelin for other projects, but occasional Led Zeppelin reunions feature Bonham’s son Jason. “We’re a Led Zeppelin tribute band, so like Jason himself Pat is paying homage to Jason’s father, the one and only John Henry Bonham,” Dolyniuk said.
Leon lives in Buena Park. Zukowsky is a Santa Monica resident. “We only had a couple of rehearsals initially in Anaheim, and then before each show,” Dolyniuk said. “If we have any time left during sound check we run through a few things. I’d say, as good as we may be now we’d be exceptional if we had more opportunities to play together.”
The Pala concert was the eighth for Zeppelin USA, with distance and other commitments explaining the sparse schedule. The residence of the John Paul Jones member who will replace Gilcrest is currently undetermined. “We have a couple of musicians in mind, but nothing has been decided at this point,” Dolyniuk said. “It’s a unique position to have to fill and requires a very skilled, multi-talented musician. Jonesy was the most underrated member of Zeppelin by far. Jon’s shoes will be tough to fill.”
Zeppelin USA played for 115 minutes at Infinity. Led Zeppelin II was the first Led Zeppelin album Dolyniuk purchased and is still his favorite Led Zeppelin album, and the encore at Pala Casino was a medley which included Led Zeppelin II songs “Whole Lotta Love” and “Heartbreaker.” The 15 songs not including the encore medley also included Led Zeppelin II tunes “Ramble On,” “Thank You,” and “What Is and What Should Never Be.” The band’s initial song at the concert was “Rock and Roll.” Zeppelin USA also performed “Stairway to Heaven” and “Kashmir,” both of which exceed eight minutes, which limited the number of songs.
“We had a great time and were very pleased with the turnout and reception,” Dolyniuk said of the Pala concert. “Looking forward to returning to this area, or even further into San Diego itself.”