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A time without craziness

Sunset Beach Community Assn. hopes annual party will ease tensions from incorporation issues. A Led Zeppelin tribute band is set to perform.

July 28, 2010|By Michael Miller, michael.miller@latimes.com
  • Led Zepland's Danny McBride (drums), John Baxter (bass and keyboard), Shawn Kelly (vocals) and Gary Lohre (guitar).
Led Zepland's Danny McBride (drums), John Baxter… (HB Independent )

Shawn Kelly was born to be Robert Plant.

As far as his tribute band goes, anyway. The Seal Beach resident still works during the week as a bar manager, and he hasn't toured the world or trashed an expensive hotel room. But Kelly bears a striking physical and vocal resemblance to the Led Zeppelin frontman, to the point where he doesn't need to wear a wig or alter his voice for effect.

"I've been doing session work in the past where they've asked, 'Can you sing that a little differently? You sound a little too much like Robert Plant,'" said Kelly, who pursued a career as an original musician before founding Led Zepland in 1999.

If resembling the British rock icon is Kelly's lot in life, he's made good use of it. Over the last decade, his tribute band has played at the Coach House, Galaxy Concert Theatre, Viper Room and other Southern California venues, attracting audiences of 200 or more. This weekend, the quartet will make its annual stop in Kelly's former hometown, raising funds for the Sunset Beach Community Assn. in the neighborhood's fifth annual Classic Rock Beachfest.

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The Saturday afternoon festival, which will pair Led Zepland with the local band Phunkel, comes at a vexing time for the 1,200-resident unincorporated community. Last summer, the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission put Sunset under Huntington Beach's sphere of influence, and the Huntington City Council is expected to vote Monday on whether to annex the neighborhood. The community association has pursued plans to incorporate as a city, but those plans would be negated if Huntington opts for annexation.

Organizers of the Beachfest hope that the festivities will take residents' minds off politics — for three hours, at least.

"We've been embroiled in all this other craziness, so this is a nice time for us to come together as a community and do something without stress," said Dawn McCormack, the president of the Sunset Beach Women's Club and publicity chairwoman for the event.

Barbara D'Angelo, a Sunset Beach resident for nearly three decades until she moved to Seal Beach last fall, founded the Beachfest in 2006 to raise funds for the community association. Led Zepland was an easy choice for the headlining band — Kelly, who works at Harpoon Harry's in Sunset Beach, is D'Angelo's fiance.

Led Zeppelin's enduring popularity, she said, made the tribute band an ideal group to bring in all ages.

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