Get the Led Out brings annual 2-night Led Zeppelin tribute to Greensburg

Paul Hammond wasn’t enthralled by Led Zeppelin’s music when he first heard it around age 4.

But first impressions don’t always last. Now 57, Hammond has been playing in a Led Zeppelin tribute band for 20 years.

Philadelphia-based Get the Led Out will play its annual two-night stint at The Palace Theatre in Greensburg on Friday and Saturday. As usual, both shows are expected to sell out.

“My father had Led Zeppelin on reel-to-reel tape. I thought some of it was a bit scary,” Hammond said. “I really liked The Beatles more – I felt like The Beatles were my friends, and their music was happy and uplifting.”

The more he heard the music, though, the more he came to like it.

Hammond first picked up a guitar when he was 8, learning blues licks from his musician father.

“Around 12, I started taking serious lessons. I learned theory, sight-reading and jazz, but my teacher was cool and said I should learn to play the music of the day, which is what I wanted to learn,” he said. “At that time, Led Zeppelin was still a band. Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, The Yardbirds, all the good stuff was still around when I was growing up.”

Get the Led Out mines the entire Led Zeppelin catalog, playing faithful renditions of both the hits and the deep cuts. After 20 years, it’s still a fresh experience every night.

“We’re constantly refining what we do because we feel like, as close as we can get to perfect, it’s never perfect. How can you be, especially when you’re essentially replicating somebody’s improvisations from start to finish?” Hammond said. “There’s all kind of nuances that we constantly strive to replicate live. That constant striving for excellence helps.”

The set list also changes from night to night.

“Revisiting of the catalog also keeps it fresh. Every time you revisit it, you hear something new,” he said.

No surprises

The band first played The Palace in 2010, filling about 900 of the theater’s 1,400 seats and becoming an instant crowd-pleaser, according to Teresa Baughman, the venue’s director of operations and programming.

After returning in 2013, the band sold out a 2014 appearance and since has booked double dates every time it plays Greensburg.

Get the Led Out plays about 125 shows a year, Hammond said, covering the United States from the Northeast to the Southwest, California to Florida. One of the largest venues it plays is the 9,545-seat Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado.

“Fans that follow the band will travel sometimes extreme distances to see us, because they love us so much,” Hammond said. “We’re one of the few, or maybe the only act, that does the music authentic to the record the way people remember it.

“There’s no surprises, and sometimes people might think, oh, that’s boring, but it really isn’t because the music is so great,” he added. “Like the classical masterpieces, you don’t want them improvised on when you go to the orchestra.”

Hammond, who co-founded the band with lead singer Paul Sinclair, plays guitar and mandolin. Other members are drummer Adam Ferraioli, guitarist/vocalist Jimmy Marchiano, bassist Phil D’Agostino, guitarist Tommy Zamp and keyboard player Eddie Kurek.

Every generation seems to produce new Led Zeppelin fans, Hammond said, with audiences including every age “from 8 to 80.” That also holds true for the band.

While he and Sinclair are the elder statesmen, the other members are younger.

“We’ll keep it going pretty much indefinitely, but just because Paul and I don’t want to do it anymore, or physically can’t, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t continue. It should — with our guidance, of course,” Hammond said.

“I know it sounds cliché and I’ve said it before, but the music is timeless, much like the Beatles or Pink Floyd or the Rolling Stones or Grateful Dead. It’s one of those bands that people still want to hear because the music is so great, just like Bach or Beethoven or Mozart.”

Tickets for Get the Led Out at The Palace are $28-$40, available at 724-836-8000 or thepalacetheatre.org.

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley by email at smcmarlin@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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