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Robert Plant, John Paul Jones Make (Separate) Surprise Appearances At Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

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Patty Griffin and Robert Plant/ photo credit: Jeanne Kearsley

Patty Griffin and Robert Plant/ photo credit: Jeanne Kearsley

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Two members of Led Zeppelin made surprise appearances — albeit separately — at San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival over the weekend.  On Saturday, Robert Plant joined folk singer Patty Griffin (from his former backing group Band Of Joy) during her solo acoustic performance. The two have been rumored to be romantically involved.

Jessica Farnham, at the festival’s “Rooster Stage” to see Griffin, told CBS Local that when Plant first walked on stage, “The crowd went nuts. Patty’s opening song was ruined due to a mic malfunction. Plant encouraged the crowd to ask her for a ‘do-over,’ and then headed to the side of the stage to watch, as if he was her biggest fan. It was very sweet.”  Jeanne Kearsley, also at the festival, told CBS Local that later on, “She said she would like to invite a very sweet man to come up and accompany her on the next song; Robert Plant took the stage and the meadow went berserk!”  The two sang a duet, which Griffin said they “came up with together” called “Ohio.”

Plant’s appearance onstage with Griffin wasn’t a huge surprise to festival attendees: earlier in the day, both of them, along with Emmylou Harris, joined Buddy Miller onstage during his set. Miller was also a member of the Band Of Joy, and was part of Plant’s band when he toured with Alison Krauss.  Miller also produced Griffin’s last album, 2010’s Downtown Church.

Meanwhile, John Paul Jones, who has spent more time supporting other artists than making his own records in recent years, made a few guest appearances as well: on Saturday, he joined Robyn Hitchcock onstage.  Jones played on Hitchcock’s 2010 album Propellor Time. Later in the day, he joined bluesman Seasick Steve for his set (Jones played on his 2011 record, You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks). The following day, Jones jammed with the band Giant Giant Sand.

The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival is a annual free event, which attracts A-list talent; this year’s lineup included Elvis Costello playing a solo acoustic set, Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes, Nick Lowe and Patti Smith among others.

Plant and Jones played on separate stages, so they may not have crossed paths.  However, they will be together once again Tuesday (October 9) as they, along with Jimmy Page, attend at press conference promoting the upcoming Celebration Day live album and film.

Brian Ives, CBS Local


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