Former LED ZEPPELIN Frontman Pays Tribute To The Blues At SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST

Michael D. Clark of the Houston Chronicle reports: It took former LED ZEPPELIN vocalist Robert Plant only one sentence to sum up why the spectacle that is the South By Southwest music festival continues to command such attention each year.

"The blue note is there, all the way through my life," Plant said. He credited the blues as the origin of all the music that will be heard during the event — everything from the post-punk rock of BILLY IDOL to the British pop of DOGS DIE IN HOT CARS and the freestyle rhythms of Houston rapper DEVIN THE DUDE.

Plant gave the keynote address at the Austin Convention Center to officially kick off SXSW on Thursday. The four-day festival, which continues this weekend, will put 1,300 acts on 60 stages in clubs around downtown Austin.

Plant was in town in part to promote his new album, "Mighty Rearranger" (due in stores May 10). He and his new band, STRANGE SENSATION, also performed at the Austin Music Hall Thursday night.

Recalling his earliest days with BAND OF JOY in the mid-'60s to his initial meeting with LED ZEPPELIN guitarist Jimmy Page, Plant said it was the regional music from Clarksdale, Miss., that had always been the spine of LED ZEPPELIN's dense, psychedelic rock as well as his solo work.

Plant spoke respectfully about the music of blues pioneers like CHARLIE PATTON and JOHN LEE HOOKER and joked about his efforts to keep LED ZEPPELIN's signature ballad, "Stairway to Heaven", off public radio in Portland, Ore., by donating to the station.

"It's not that I don't like ('Stairway to Heaven'), it's just that I've heard it before," Plant said, laughing.

Read more at Houston Chronicle.

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