Monday, October 23, 2006

The Music Of FZ Lives On!

When I started this site, I promised myself I wouldn't waste the reader's valuable time talking about my dog, what I ate for lunch, my thoughts on {insert current controversial social subject here}, etc. (If you want me to talk about that stuff, PLEASE, let me's a lot easier than coming up with good technical ideas! ;-) However, please indulge me for a minute and let me break my promise to say a few words about an experience that I had last night that utterly blew my mind.

Most of my friends, family and co-workers know I am a HUGE music fan. Among all else, it's really my one true passion. I could easily spend every penny I earn buying music and attending concerts. I tend to gravitate to music that can challenge me intellectually, hence my leaning toward progressive metal, all forms of jazz, etc. And, sometimes, eclipsing everything else, the music of Mr. Frank Zappa.

Now many people only know of Frank from the smattering of hits he had...mostly his funny songs. He did have an awesome sense of humor and was a compelling satirist, but for me, it's his complex works that define him as a musician. Frank was a composer in the true sense of the word, and developed some mind boggling works. He was known for working with some of the best musicians in the world and was a taskmaster when it came to them performing his music flawlessly.

Anyway...last night I finally got to see Zappa's work played live. Sadly, not by Frank himself, as he died of prostate cancer in 1993, but by his incredibly talented son, Dweezil. The tour, dubbed 'Zappa Plays Zappa' features a band of young, but unbelievable musicians, along with special guests Steve Vai, Napoleon Murphy Brock and Terry Bozzio (all of whom played with Frank at various points in his career).

(I've probably lost many of you already...thanks for listening. If you're a FZ fan, then please continue reading...)

I have attended many, many shows in the past and none of them come close to the level of energy that I experienced coming from the stage. I got chills from the way Dweezil seemed to effortless channel his dad's playing and it was quite an experience to hear Vai and Bozzio recapture past Zappa magic. Napolean Murphy Brock was the perfect frontman and sang with such a passion that it truly affected everyone in the venue. Occasionally I glanced around, looking at other members of the audience and the expressions of sheer joy on all the faces was something really special. I lost track of the number of standing ovations the band received...let's just say it was "a lot".

Highlights for me were:

"Call Any Vegetable"
"St. Alphonso's Pancake Breakfast" (for the insane xylophone parts)
"The Black Page"
"The Torture Never Stops" (extended groove made it that much better)
Dweezil soloing
Terry soloing
Steve soloing

The band played for 3 hours straight and never missed a beat. Dweezil had a bunch of new hand signals and watching him conduct the band was out of this world. I have never experienced a band as tight as they were. Obviously, Dweezil has taken this endeavor seriously and aspires to do it as Frank did. It would have been very easy to "sell out" and make this a show of mostly funny songs that might appeal to more people who have heard those on the radio, but I think the appeal of this show was that it highlighted Frank's musical genius.

In order to get the best possible tickets, I participated in the online auction, which included the chance to get in to the venue early and watch the band soundcheck. was pricy, but so very worth it. This was just the extra icing on top. Plus the chance to hear some of the setlist songs twice in one night...awesome! :-) Dweezil did mention during the show that he hopes to make this an annual event. I'm crossing my fingers for that.

In any event, it's past midnight now, and it's been a long day and I've probably bored everyone to tears. If, however, you are a fan of Frank's music, I hope I've inspired you to try and get to one of these shows. Musically, it was the best night of my life and a memory I hope never to forget!

Want to know more about Frank...then go here!


Joanne said...

Wish I coulda seen this one!! Thanks for the awesome write-up!!

Ben Poole said...

Great write-up Chris, thank you. It sounds like Dweezil is doing an amazing job in keeping his father's awesome legacy alive.

A show to tell your grand children about for sure ;o)