Zepparella at the Sweetwater Music Hall, by Carolyn McCoy

Zepparella (photo: Carolyn McCoy)

Words by Carolyn McCoy

Rock and roll, it’s good for the soul, as they say, and I wholeheartedly support that statement as the truth. There is a fabulous feeling of having shredding guitars and thumping bass lines push all the crazy out of your head — like therapy but cheaper, that’s for sure. So with that in mind, I entered into Mill Valley’s famed Sweetwater Music Hall so I could subject myself and my internal demons to the ultimate therapeutic process of a double-bill of killer rock and roll: Zepparella and the opening act of Gretchen Menn Trio, the Zepparella guitarist’s newest personal music venture.

Gretchen Menn is a madwoman on guitar. Her presence is remarkable, like a porcelain doll that kills it with a six-string electric and a cello bow. Her new trio, with bassist Anna Pfeifer and drummer Tom Perry, is all instrumental, walking the line between heavy metal and classical guitar styles — a dirty and elegant mix as only Menn can make it. There is such a charge with her music; pulsing, raging, and completely hard-driving. Menn showcased original songs from her many solo albums, including the aggressive, heavy-metal vibe of “Scrap Metal” and “Oleo Strut,” to slow and gentle songs like “Bures-sur-Yvette” and a cover of “When Irish Eyes are Smiling.”

Then there is Zepparella, three women in white busting out all the Led Zeppelin you could ever want. The band pays tribute to Led Zeppelin without trying to be like them, as there is no need. They do things their own way as they uphold the Led Zeppelin songbook with dignity, poise, and pure power. This band has been around for a long time, rocking hard with a pure magnetism not unlike the original Led Zeppelin. Lead singer and harmonica player Anna Kristina, who adds her voice to the music, struts, dances, and seduces you with her prowess just like Robert Plant. Gretchen Menn comes back to her guitar and does Jimmy Page justice with pure, melodic shred while bassist Holly West and drummer Clementine bust out the backbeat like a heartbeat. Zepparella creates a mood and dynamic that plays out like wildfire. The band covered such Zep favorites as “Lemon Song,” “Bring It On Home,” and “Dazed and Confused,” as well as “The Ocean” and “Night Flight.”

As I have stated, like, a million times before, music is medicine, and a great night of hard-driving rock and roll was just the dose many of us needed.

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