The Yardbirds will be headlining the first annual ZepFest, playing all three nights May 27, 28, and 29-Memorial Day Weekend, at the National Harbor, on the Potomac River, at Waterfront Street and St. George Blvd., in Prince George's County, MD.
The ZepFest features over 50 bands on five stages. There'll be speakers, authors, secret shows. It's also a completely Green festival. ZepFest CEO and Festival Director Mark Boudreau says the Fest will include, “Descendants, disciples and influences.” There'll be blues artists the Night Hawks and Willie Big Eyes Smith, contemporaries Vanilla Fudge, and fans Dread Zeppelin, tribute bands, and guest speakers most notably Atlantic Records' Jerry Greenberg.
The late Pinetop Perkins was scheduled to perform, and the entire ZepFest will be dedicated to him.
The Yardbirds' band members will be on hand throughout the day to connect with fans. Guitarist Ben King will be part of the Ultimate Dream Band in which a lucky fan gets a shot at playing before the Yardbirds. The band's tour manager, Henry “The Horse” Smith, an original Led Zeppelin roadie, will be on hand to tell stories. Jim McCarty will be giving a Q&A Session. Rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja, who became a professional photographer after the Yardbirds broke up in 1968, will be showing (and selling) photographs, including the iconic back lit shot of Jimmy Page, which will be signed by both Jimmy and Chris. A sampling of Chris' work can be seen on his website.
The Yardbirds is original members: rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja and drummer Jim McCarty, and a new generation of musicians: singer/acoustic guitarist/harpist Andy Mitchell (since 2009), bassist David Smale (since 2009), and lead guitarist Ben King (since 2005).
The Yardbirds innovated 1960s guitar, with fuzz tone, feedback, distortion, backwards echo, improved amplification….and using a bow to play guitar. The group paved the way for the careers of Eric Clapton (1963-'65) Jeff Beck ('65-'66), and Jimmy Page (66-'68, first as bassist, then guitarist when Beck left). The group drew some repertoire from the blues acts of the day, including Elmore James, Howlin' Wolf, and Bo Diddley, and the Yardbirds hits were some of the best songs of the British Invasion: “For Your Love,” “Heart Full of Soul,” "Shapes of Things," “I'm A Man,” and “Over Under Sideways Down,” “Train Kept A- Rolling,” “Dazed and Confused.” “I'm A Man,” and “Over Under Sideways Down,” and “Better Man Than I.”
The Yardbirds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. Soon after the induction, Jim and Chris reformed the Yardbirds, first playing at London's Marquee club with the newly reformed Animals.
In 2003, Steve Vai's Favored Nations label released their album BIRDLAND, an album of new songs that featured guest appearances from Vai, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Slash, Brian May, Steve Lukather, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, and John Rzeznik. In 2005 guitarist Ben King joined the group, who recorded LIVE AT B.B. KING BLUES CLUB on July 19, 2006. That came out in 2007, included a version of “I'm a Man” that played on the Simpsons that year.
The Yardbirds has continued to tour. An institution in popular music, blues, rock and roll, the group made an indelible mark on the music and culture of both the 1960s and future generations.