ZFT Litigation Frenzy: School of Rock Edition

I kid you not.

Incredibly, having just lost the Zappanale lawsuit, the ZFT is now going after Paul Green’s School of Rock — more specifically Napoleon M. Brock’s envolvement therein. Here’s the Berger-Kahn letter (pdf). Quote:

It recently came to our attention that Napoleon Murphy Brock and the Paul Green School of Rock All-Stars are currently scheduled to perform the music of Frank Zappa [...] We understand that this tour is billed as “Napoleon Murphy Brock Performs ZAPPA with the Paul Green School of Rock All-stars”. Please be advised that none of you possess any license, permission or authority to publicly perform the songs of Frank Zappa.

Should you wonder where your precious Barfko Swill dollars are headed for, look no further: this is it.

Unbelievable.

56 Responses to “ZFT Litigation Frenzy: School of Rock Edition”

  1. Mike Lerch says:

    I’m just beside myself. What part of the ASCAP/BMI stuff am I not understanding. Isn’t this what Andre went through as well? Is the issue that she has trademarked the name “Zappa” so no one can use it in relation to music?

    Dear ZFT: I’ve ordered every product you’ve produced since Frank’s death and have a pre-order for Lumpy Money sitting with you right this second. I’ve seen ZPZ five times. I’m as loyal a customer as you could have. And this shit pisses me off.

  2. schlarb says:

    Wow. I have tried to be understanding to where the ZFT is coming from in the past. No doubt people are making money of the Zappa name.

    That having been said, isn’t music for the playing?

    Where are the misguided lawyers for the Stravinsky and Bartok Family Trusts when you need them?! And eye for an eye perhaps?

  3. Mike Lerch says:

    Quick follow up to my own note: it says in the text of the letter that the ASCAP blanket license that makes it permissible for cover bands to play live music does not cover “tribute” bands.

    Further, indeed the word “Zappa” is trademarked in reference to music so its usage in the marketing of music without ZFT’s permission is infringing.

    The linked PDF is mandatory reading. What I smell in this document is the kind of legal wrangling I always figured would cause FZ to choke on his coffee.

  4. Michael Pabst says:

    What a shame! That is all I can say.

    M.

  5. SOFA - Philostopher/Chef says:

    Ah…
    But this one is easy – so easy, a Geico customer could side-step it.
    SOR lost a spineless promoter; spineless promoters are a dime-a-dozen. No biggie.
    First off, Mr. Green (who’s probably aware and/or doing this right now) needs to change his advertising for this “tour”. It’s a School of Rock show, featuring Napi. That’s really all that needs to be said now, aint it? (In print, anyway.)
    Thanks to the SOR Movie, Mr. Green does not need to use any Zippo references to promote this tour. Youngsters (well, younger than me) will attend because it’s the SOR. Fans of the Z will attend because it’s Napi.
    Now, Napi has a CD or two (I believe) of his own. If you have him performing some of his own (or his licensed) tracks, backed by the SOR All Stars – with possibly a smattering of obscure R&B tunes, which Frank would have loved – then it’s no longer a “Review”, is it?
    It’s just a show where “some” Zappa tunes are played, and covered fully by the venues’ ASCAP license. I don’t know if there is a precedent for what percentage of a show constitutes a “Review”. The text of the law here is vague, with the general interpretation being a Review is 100% music by a specific composer(s).
    End of litigation. (Amend that to ‘End of current legal argument’. It would now be up to the ZFT Legal Cadre to prove that each individual event was a “Review” – by general definition, playing only the music of one composer – and, Frankly, they don’t have the cash.)
    As one who has successfully side-stepped copyright issues before (Stravinsky and Bartok were mentioned; let me tell ya, you don’t wanna fuck with the suits that collect for Rogers & Hammerstein), this one is a no-brainer.
    And Congrats to the Zappanale guys!

    [I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. My legal expertise stems almost exclusively from a very old Perry Mason affection, and watching "My Cousin Vinnie" (highly recommended - Fred Gwynne is brilliant) repeatedly.]
    [[Gotta admit, tho', I almost sound like I know something. Common Sense can do that.]]

  6. Kevin Hoover says:

    I don’t think I’m telling tales out of school by relating what Dweezil told fans after a ZPZ show on Aug. 20, 2007.

    As he was signing autographs at the front of the stage, someone asked Dweezil what he thought of the School of Rock. He said he had major problems with it, and didn’t like the way Paul Green was doing things. The only quote I remember was when he said “I actually feel sorry for the kids who enroll in that.” That may be a word or two off, but it’s substantially what he said.

    What passed through my mind at that moment was that Mike Keneally had just been named National Music Director of the School of Rock the previous November. I wondered whether Dweezil’s opinion had something to do with Mike’s involvement. Apparently there is still some weirdness going on between Dweezil and Mike. I only say that because, for example, if you look at the ZPZ bios, Joe Travers’ continuing work with Mike is glaringly absent.

    http://www.keneally.com/press/wichitacitypaper1.html

    “As BFD grew its reputation, a chasm between Keneally and his boss Dweezil developed. Keneally wanted to spend time recording and performing his own music, not waiting for tours and release dates that always seemed to get delayed. His eventual departure from the band and Beller’s subsequent defection led the Zappas to replace the bassist and guitarist’s photos on the inner sleeve of Music For Pets with those of family dogs Bing Jang and Arkansas.”

    And yet Mike offers highly laudatory remarks about Dweezil’s work on that album and others on his own website, with no hard feelings.

    What’s weird is that when he was launching ZPZ, Dweezil hired Mike at union scale to come over and teach him a lot of Frank songs. So you might think they buried the hatchet. Frankly I doubt that Mike had one to bury; he’s a pretty positive guy. And yet it’s as though Mike doesn’t exist on the Zappa website.

    I don’t wish to dwell on trivial personality matters, but it is a man-bites-dog situation and it does have some musical impacts. It may even have something to do with the School of Rock issue, who knows?

  7. mutard moggio witha candlestick says:

    *D*_*_*_*_*_*_*B*A*G*

  8. SOFA - Philostopher/Chef says:

    I’d like to by a vowel, Pat…

  9. Disciple of "Bob" says:

    From the shadows, Michael Lerch!

    For those who don’t know or care, Mike Lerch is a guy with a really great sense of humor, who once upon a time, way back a long time ago, recorded an utterly BEAUTIFUL song instructing the instructable listener on the correct etiquette one should employ when posting messages about (or NOT about) Mike Keneally. This particular song featured a really nice guitar solo, but Lerch scoffed at my compliment many years ago, because he said it was played on a Hondo guitar that was made in a Soviet gulag and cost $3 or something like that.

    HOWEVER, I DIGRESS.

    If I’m reading this correctly, I think it is astonishingly sad that the ZFT are behaving this way. Nobody is going to be fooled into thinking a Paul Green School of Rock Plays Zappa Blah Blah Blah show is a genuine FZ product. More likely, anyone who is even aware of its existence is already a Zappa fanatic of some measurable degree, and is likely only to view such an endeavor in a very positive light.

    Who (except, apparently, Gail and Dweezil) could fail to be filled with peace and love and good happiness stuff at the very idea that there exist clusters of barely-adolescent musicians who enjoy learning to [try to] play such things as Zombie Woof and The Black Page?

    I understand the desire to protect FZ’s legacy, I really do. But I think there’s a huge difference between keeping Inca Roads from being quoted in a Gap commercial, and keeping a bunch of adoring FZ fans from performing his music.

    As much I as would love to just put on some headphones and have the entire contents of THE VAULT played, ready or not, I am slowly and sadly coming to the conclusion that the only FZ material that matters is the stuff he released when he was alive. I don’t understand the concept of suing your own fans. I think I would be overjoyed just at the idea that someone still cares to keep the music alive (AND LET’S FACE IT, it’s not like FZ’s music is any significant portion of today’s musical landscape – I’d take my preservation where I could get it).

  10. Chuck says:

    Don’t forget Paul Green was very negative about ZPZ in some of his comments. I wouldn’t be surprised if this created a rift at least from the ZFT side.

    Also wasn’t there some bad blood with Nappy and ZPZ when he left… I have only hear it mentioned never any actual reasons though.

    So the two issues combined I think would be enough to make ZFT get their knickers in a knot. Really how damn lame!!

    Well I will continue to not by their stuff and not fund this idiocy.

  11. profusion says:

    This lawyer’s interpretation of the ASCAP license is complete nonsense. He makes quite a stretch from pointing out that the license covers only “nondramatic” works and performances (undoubtedly true) to claiming that a Zappa tribute performance is a “dramatic” work/performance. That, my friends, is the kind of lawyerly horseshit that you can only get at upwards of $600 per hour. If SOR was performing a musical based on the life of FZ, sure. But merely performing a bunch of his songs in the context of a band performance is not a “dramatic” performance. This lawyer ought to be horsewhipped by the ethics board in Calif. for making such a claim.

    Unfortunately, he’s on more solid ground regarding the trademark issue. Using the Zappa name to promote the performance does get into murky and dangerous waters.

  12. jane23 says:

    Oh, the drama.
    I am not a lawyer
    and i don’t play one on TV, BUT
    you could make the case that Frank Zappa WAS his music.
    And, any performance of Frank Zappa Music inwhich the spirit of the composer is evoked IS a dramatic work/performance.
    Even Dweezil in attempting to emulate his father’s guitar style is performing a dramatic interpretation in his recreation of the original composition/performance.
    Take it away Don Pardo…

  13. Bálint says:

    I remember Peter Bartók (Béla Bartók’s son) banned some performance of the Miraculous Mandarin (with a ballet), because he didi not think the concept was to reach the level of his father’s work…

    OTHERWISE: do we know ANY musicians/relatives/etc who are so much AGAINST tehir fan-base?… Because one thing is that we might not agree, we migth not like these C&D stuff, but must most of all I do not UNDERSTAND. Why attacking people, why creating enemies of people, who play/teach GZ’s husband’s music???? Why?

  14. Clark Gwent says:

    Picking on kids now is it? I saw SOR last summer supporting and accompanying the Butthole Surfers, scarily opening with “21st Century Schizoid Man” note-perfect. Then some of them went scuttling off the stage, came to stand next to me, and were only up to my elbow. They seemed to be having a whale of a time, as did audience and headliners. What is the Dweez’s point?

  15. moggio's moldy Oreos says:

    The Family seems bent on killing any vestige of interest in FZ’s music apart from us hardcore fans who are getting more and more disenfranchised as time goes on (with exceptions, of course).

    But, this business plan is surely one of the dumbest in all of entertainment/music if not THE dumbest.

  16. profusion says:

    A quote from jane23:

    you could make the case that Frank Zappa WAS his music.

    Not in court, you couldn’t. And I *am* a lawyer (not in Calif., however), though I don’t have a sufficiently pouting rictus to play one on TV.

    The legal structure surrounding the ASCAP/BMI license is quite clear and permits musicians to perform other people’s music and have the composer get paid. Period. A concert is not a “dramatic” work. Period. Why do you think all those zillions of tribute bands play around the USA every day without getting sued? Why do you think that Gail has a winning percentage of .000 in court so far?

    Regardless of the legalities, I agree with Mr. Moldy Oreos that the Zappas are essentially scaring off the very people they should be cultivating. If FZ’s music is going to live on, *someone* other than his progeny is going to have to play it eventually.

  17. Kevin Hoover says:

    Just imagine an alternate universe where the family is warm and cooperative with the dedicated fans.

    Were that the case, consider how much merch the ZFT would be selling.

  18. mikelerch says:

    Disciple of “Bob,” I don’t know what rock of the SubGenius you crawled out from under (or who you are!), but thank you! If I scoffed at a compliment I must have had a sinus headache that day (they make me cranky). My guitar is a beast in bad need of a setup that I don’t know how to do, but I’m proud of that song and that solo and working with Dr. Dahl and am pleased as hell that people enjoyed it, and pleaseder still that someone is still enjoying it. :)

  19. peter says:

    More of the same tired shit. Gail is all about setting a legal precedent; thus the dramatic work nonsense. Can’t wait until this one sees it’s day in court. I expect her to lose.

    iyiyiy, going after the kids. Can one possibly make a worse move? This news will (has?) spread coast-to-coast…and do you think a single one of these youngens will ever fork over cash to see ZPZ…or feel any guilt about illegally downloading a FZ release? Allegiance is everything in this day and age.

  20. jane23 says:

    A quote from jane23:

    you could make the case that Frank Zappa WAS his music.
    Not in court, you couldn’t. And I *am* a lawyer (not in Calif., however),

    What I am saying is that you could argue the case in court, (not necessarily win) that a performance of Zappa’s music is a dramatization of his music in which the performers try to recreate what attending a concert given by Frank Zappa would have been like which could include theatrical elements to enhance that experience, much like Beatlemania. I don’t think anyone would argue that a performance of Joe’s Garage in it’s entirety would be a dramatic performance. So, if we use Zappa’s own theory of conceptual continuity and accept that each of his compositions is a part of a continuous whole single entity then we could perhaps make the leap that this single entity of musical works which might contain a dramatic work within it could collectively be considered a dramatic work.
    The whole being equal to the sum of its parts.
    Take it away again, Don Pardo…

  21. Eric Svalgard says:

    That is all fine and dandy. Then don’t take any money from ASCAP/BMI and make any arguement you want. As long as she accepts money from license agencies for the perfromance of his songs she is trying to eat her cake and have it too

  22. profusion says:

    A quote from jane23:

    What I am saying is that you could argue the case in court, (not necessarily win) that a performance of Zappa’s music is a dramatization of his music in which the performers try to recreate what attending a concert given by Frank Zappa would have been like which could include theatrical elements to enhance that experience, much like Beatlemania.

    In that event, I suppose there would be a case to be made, although the legal question might be what the “work” in question is. The song itself or the extraneous performance elements used to recreate the ’70s concert experience.

    All supposition, most likely. And nothing like what the SOR does, from little I know of it. They’re simply a bunch of kids playing rock music with a few of the original performers helping out. I think it’s despicable that the ZFT is suing over this. Given how much FZ bemoaned the lack of musical and cultural education in the USA, I can’t imagine that he’d be thrilled over this lawsuit. If any of these little kids get Zappa’s music down, then my hat’s off to them!

  23. Eric Svalgard says:

    to: profusion
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xc9Dt-_BLo0

  24. Eric Svalgard says:

    To Profusion: go on youtube and search Downingtown School of Rock-Dog Breath Variations.

  25. Paul Sempschi says:

    A quote from Disciple of “Bob”:

    I think I would be overjoyed just at the idea that someone still cares to keep the music alive (AND LET’S FACE IT, it’s not like FZ’s music is any significant portion of today’s musical landscape – I’d take my preservation where I could get it).

    Eerie, who would have thought that Captain Beefheart would have more longevity than Zappa? I speak of course of the role Beefheart plays in the bass/drums heavy [as opposed to the old melody-based 45's] poptunes of today, especially in the realm of hip-hop.

    Is there a future for Zappa’s music aside from the inbred swill of the ZFT?

  26. Mike Hole Pee Hairy says:

    A quote from mikelerch:

    Disciple of “Bob,” I don’t know what rock of the SubGenius you crawled out from under (or who you are!), but thank you! If I scoffed at a compliment I must have had a sinus headache that day (they make me cranky). My guitar is a beast in bad need of a setup that I don’t know how to do, but I’m proud of that song and that solo and working with Dr. Dahl and am pleased as hell that people enjoyed it, and pleaseder still that someone is still enjoying it. :)

    I’d still be enjoying it too if I hadn’t lost my copy of TYVMG! :(

  27. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from moggio’s moldy Oreos:

    The Family seems bent on killing any vestige of interest in FZ’s music apart from us hardcore fans who are getting more and more disenfranchised as time goes on (with exceptions, of course).

    But, this business plan is surely one of the dumbest in all of entertainment/music if not THE dumbest.

    A quote from peter:

    More of the same tired shit. Gail is all about setting a legal precedent; thus the dramatic work nonsense. Can’t wait until this one sees it’s day in court. I expect her to lose.

    iyiyiy, going after the kids. Can one possibly make a worse move? This news will (has?) spread coast-to-coast…and do you think a single one of these youngens will ever fork over cash to see ZPZ…or feel any guilt about illegally downloading a FZ release? Allegiance is everything in this day and age.

    A quote from Paul Sempschi:

    A quote from Disciple of “Bob”:

    I think I would be overjoyed just at the idea that someone still cares to keep the music alive (AND LET’S FACE IT, it’s not like FZ’s music is any significant portion of today’s musical landscape – I’d take my preservation where I could get it).

    Eerie, who would have thought that Captain Beefheart would have more longevity than Zappa? I speak of course of the role Beefheart plays in the bass/drums heavy [as opposed to the old melody-based 45's] poptunes of today, especially in the realm of hip-hop.

    Is there a future for Zappa’s music aside from the inbred swill of the ZFT?

    I am reminded of the movie, Oliver, when the young protagonist walks up with an empty bowl and says: “More, please…” Is this what the Frank Zappa legacy will be reduced to by Gail Zappa and the Zappa Family Trust? Wherein only the rich, well funded orchestras and individuals will be able to pay to perform the music of FZ?

    “…Can I play ‘The Black Page’, please…?” says little Terry Ted.

    “…Can I please play ‘Sofa #2′…?” begs little Napi.

    “No MONEY, No MUSIC…Understand that the Zappa motto now is MUSIC IS THE BEST…at a price!

  28. profusion says:

    A quote from Eric Svalgard:

    to: profusion
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xc9Dt-_BLo0

    That was fantastic. Thanks for the link.

  29. greetings from norway says:

    looks like some folks got more food you go guys LOL ………..

  30. Empire Hancock says:

    A quote from profusion:

    Given how much FZ bemoaned the lack of musical and cultural education in the USA, I can’t imagine that he’d be thrilled over this lawsuit.

    I’ll give this an Amen. Jeezis.

  31. the school of spock says:

    i think its great she suing them — the school of rock and frank zappa that dont mix they should be playing the bay city rollers or sweet or spice girl music…………… they should not be educated to the point of connecting with the musical thought of frank zappa…….. plus that is an american school isnt it ………………it just doesnt cut it me seeing a bunch under age boys and girls performing stick it out oh my lord ……

    tipper gore :)

  32. PGSORM Austin says:

    A quote from PGSORM Austin:

    think its great she suing them — the school of rock and frank zappa that dont mix they should be playing the bay city rollers or sweet or spice girl music…………… they should not be educated to the point of connecting with the musical thought of frank zappa…….. plus that is an american school isnt it ………………it just doesnt cut it me seeing a bunch under age boys and girls performing stick it out oh my lord ……
    tipper gore :)

    I really hope you were being sarcastic, its hard to tell sometimes on the interwebs. If it’s not, boy are you misguided.

  33. Andrew says:

    I’m confused: http://www.zappa.com/whatsnew/performances/index.html

  34. Music X 3 says:

    If anyone can come to the show in Philly tonight or in NYC tomorrow night you should.
    Its freaking amazing.
    Apparently isnt being filmed or going to be on the net.
    Its a huge loss.
    You would never believe how amazing the show is.
    I wish you were able to see it, or we could send a vid.
    Awesome.
    These are musicians who just happen to be kids.
    If you were to hear them and not see them you would never believe they are kids though.
    NMB is off the hook.
    Hes awesome to watch.
    Inspirational.

  35. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Music X 3:

    If anyone can come to the show in Philly tonight or in NYC tomorrow night you should.
    Its freaking amazing.
    Apparently isnt being filmed or going to be on the net.
    Its a huge loss.
    You would never believe how amazing the show is.
    I wish you were able to see it, or we could send a vid.
    Awesome.
    These are musicians who just happen to be kids.
    If you were to hear them and not see them you would never believe they are kids though.
    NMB is off the hook.
    Hes awesome to watch.
    Inspirational.

    I would certainly like to hear someone’s review of their performance. I think it’s fantastic that NMB is giving these new musicians an education, not just into the music of FZ, but the part he played in some of its creation. If I were a teenager again, believe me, I’d sign up in an instant, if only to hear some of those inside stories…

  36. Music X 3 says:

    Come see the show.

    Call Any Vegetable
    Dog Breath/Uncle Meat
    Idiot Bastard/Florentine Pogen
    20 Small Cigars
    Andy
    Snack/Mystery Roach
    Trouble Every Day
    Montana
    Orange Co/More Trouble
    Cheepnis

    I’m the Slime
    San Ber’dino
    Pound for a Brown
    Advance Romance
    Honey Honey hey
    Sharleena
    Uncle Remus
    Village/Echidna/Wash
    Sofa

    Pygmy

    If you live in NYC you need to see the show.
    Try to make it.
    It’s amazing.
    I cant even single songs out since they are all so kickass.

  37. Mr.X says:

    I’m not the first person to say this on the web, and it has been confirmed to me personally by individuals who’s names many of you would recognize, but the suspicions that Gail Zappa is trying to destroy the legacy of Frank are true. He had a voracious appetite for groupies that he would be with both on the road and in his home. She is exacting her “revenge” by doing whatever she can to keep his music from being performed. Unless of course she can hose the faithful fans by overcharging them to watch her middle-aged son make a living for a few years after being a failure in both the music and television industries. And just a short bit on D’weezil and his show. I’ve seen the show 6 times (mainly because I like to go to concerts and there’s not much out there these days) and as much as he says he wants to remain faithful to his father’s music, I’ve seen Frank in concert and one thing he did not have in his shows were masturbatory guitar solos in just about every song. But back to the original point, the truth of the matter is Zappa music is not looming large in today’s music scene and depends on mostly middle aged and old guys who remember it from their younger days. The only way a composer can live beyond their own lifetimes is to have other people play their compositions. Unless this happens and new people come to appreciate the music, it will die with those afore mentioned old guys. This is precisely what Gail is trying to do. They have already mined the current fans with the ZPZ shows that have gotten smaller (the third U.S. tour had them playing 300 seat venues) and for 2009 they are playing on a package tour under Dream Theater as one of 3 warm up bands. So for all the sentimental BS about protecting the integrity of Frank’s music, it’s really about the ultimate revenge by a wife who’s husband never bothered to conceal his sexual activities. Her intent is to have his life’s work lost to the passage of time. Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

  38. Alex says:

    A quote from Mr.X:

    I’m not the first person to say this on the web, and it has been confirmed to me personally by individuals who’s names many of you would recognize, but the suspicions that Gail Zappa is trying to destroy the legacy of Frank are true. He had a voracious appetite for groupies that he would be with both on the road and in his home. She is exacting her “revenge” by doing whatever she can to keep his music from being performed. Unless of course she can hose the faithful fans by overcharging them to watch her middle-aged son make a living for a few years after being a failure in both the music and television industries. And just a short bit on D’weezil and his show. I’ve seen the show 6 times (mainly because I like to go to concerts and there’s not much out there these days) and as much as he says he wants to remain faithful to his father’s music, I’ve seen Frank in concert and one thing he did not have in his shows were masturbatory guitar solos in just about every song. But back to the original point, the truth of the matter is Zappa music is not looming large in today’s music scene and depends on mostly middle aged and old guys who remember it from their younger days. The only way a composer can live beyond their own lifetimes is to have other people play their compositions. Unless this happens and new people come to appreciate the music, it will die with those afore mentioned old guys. This is precisely what Gail is trying to do. They have already mined the current fans with the ZPZ shows that have gotten smaller (the third U.S. tour had them playing 300 seat venues) and for 2009 they are playing on a package tour under Dream Theater as one of 3 warm up bands. So for all the sentimental BS about protecting the integrity of Frank’s music, it’s really about the ultimate revenge by a wife who’s husband never bothered to conceal his sexual activities. Her intent is to have his life’s work lost to the passage of time. Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

    Interesting. Not saying I’m taking what you say at face value. But it’s an interesting theory.

  39. urbangraffito says:

    I agree, a very interesting theory. Still, I don’t think any one person has the power or control to really determine Frank Zappa’s ultimate legacy (though in doing so, to protect their precious toes they have shot their own foot). In my lifetime I have witnessed Zappa’s appeal go from the margins to almost the mainstream (at least among the youth of today). And for a composer to live beyond their lifetimes, yes, their compositions need to be performed, but that isn’t the only means by which they do so: they also live beyond their lifetimes by those musicians they inspire. Take the works and recordings of Mike Keneally, for instance. If anyone is singlehandedly carrying on the Zappa torch, it is Mike (and Steve Vai, too). Don’t believe me, take a listen to Nonkertompf (a virtual guitar masterpiece) or Guitar Therapy.

  40. Gucci poncho says:

    If Mike Keneally and Steve Vai are the one’s “carrying on the Zappa torch” then in a way, “mission accomplished.” Beyond a certain (though impressive) guitar aptitude and perhaps an equipment fetish, there is so very little ‘Zappa’ in either of them–to say otherwise is to diminish the real thing (see ‘mission’ above) and to bestow an entirely unmerited amount praise and depth to their respective outputs. Not that they don’t look and sound great when getting their ‘shred’ on, but Keneally and Vai are simply of a different phylum than Zappa.

    “The way I see it,” Zappa-as-guitar-slinger-rock-dude was only one facet of the total, uh, “project/object” When Steve Vai or Mike Keneally or DZ or Napi or any of the alumni/torch carriers start to crank out the compositions (both “classical” and computer) or start to play the guitar with the same rhythmic and/or tonal idiosyncrasy as Zappa, or start to assemble the cojones necessary to take the piss out of proto-fascist cranks on national television, then the coronation ceremony can (and should) start to commence.

  41. Mike P says:

    A quote from Gucci poncho:

    If Mike Keneally and Steve Vai are the one’s “carrying on the Zappa torch” then in a way, “mission accomplished.” Beyond a certain (though impressive) guitar aptitude and perhaps an equipment fetish, there is so very little ‘Zappa’ in either of them–to say otherwise is to diminish the real thing (see ‘mission’ above) and to bestow an entirely unmerited amount praise and depth to their respective outputs. Not that they don’t look and sound great when getting their ‘shred’ on, but Keneally and Vai are simply of a different phylum than Zappa.

    “The way I see it,” Zappa-as-guitar-slinger-rock-dude was only one facet of the total, uh, “project/object” When Steve Vai or Mike Keneally or DZ or Napi or any of the alumni/torch carriers start to crank out the compositions (both “classical” and computer) or start to play the guitar with the same rhythmic and/or tonal idiosyncrasy as Zappa, or start to assemble the cojones necessary to take the piss out of proto-fascist cranks on national television, then the coronation ceremony can (and should) start to commence.

    I’m not sure you’re giving Keneally or Vai enough credit. They may not be the same thing as Frank Zappa, but they have written some very complex, rich, and fascinating compositions that often betray a debt to Zappa. It’s just that they aren’t limiting themselves to merely copying Zappa – they have their own ideas and lots of other influences.

    It seems like you’re offended by the notion of Keneally or Vai being labeled as successors to Zappa’s throne. Well, I think you’re correct in that there is no one doing what Frank Zappa did. There was only one of him. People are unique – you can copy certain superficial things about another person but you can’t really take the place of them.

    If you have certain prescribed things that you need a person to do, you’re always going to be disappointed. Even if Keneally/Vai/etc. did the things you mentioned, even if they did everything Zappa did, they would still be missing the most Zappa-like thing, which was being absolutely true to his own nature. That’s why I kind of think the best way to pay tribute to Frank is to do something great yourself, in your own way. Mere imitation is too superficial, in my opinion.

  42. Mike P says:

    A quote from Mr.X:

    I’m not the first person to say this on the web, and it has been confirmed to me personally by individuals who’s names many of you would recognize, but the suspicions that Gail Zappa is trying to destroy the legacy of Frank are true.

    Shock horror!

    A quote from Mike P:

    He had a voracious appetite for groupies that he would be with both on the road and in his home. She is exacting her “revenge” by doing whatever she can to keep his music from being performed.

    That bitch, how dare she! But what’s with the scare quotes? Is her revenge somehow not real revenge? Or are you just kidding?

    A quote from Mike P:

    Unless of course she can hose the faithful fans by overcharging them to watch her middle-aged son make a living for a few years after being a failure in both the music and television industries.

    Hah! True that, holmes! At least you’re too smart for that shit.

    A quote from Mike P:

    I’ve seen the show 6 times (mainly because I like to go to concerts and there’s not much out there these days)

    D’oh! Well, at least you have a really great rationalization for going.

    A quote from Mike P:

    and as much as he says he wants to remain faithful to his father’s music, I’ve seen Frank in concert and one thing he did not have in his shows were masturbatory guitar solos in just about every song.

    You’re correct, DZ is just NOT FAITHFUL ENOUGH. Too many guitar solos, too few guitar solos, either one is a recipe for disaster. When will he learn to study Frank’s setlists and play the exact prescribed amount of guitar according to the average amount that Frank played at his concerts?? Jeez!

    A quote from Mike P:

    But back to the original point, the truth of the matter is Zappa music is not looming large in today’s music scene and depends on mostly middle aged and old guys who remember it from their younger days. The only way a composer can live beyond their own lifetimes is to have other people play their compositions. Unless this happens and new people come to appreciate the music, it will die with those afore mentioned old guys.

    The truth of the matter is that composers rise and fall in popularity all the time. There have been long stretches of time, even centuries, when composers as famous as J.S. Bach were forgotten. Renaissance music is arguably more popular now than any time since it was first written. It might not sell millions of albums, but people have an inflated sense of what constitutes “popular” from the effects of mass media. In any case, music doesn’t “die” – people do (despite that stupid Don McLean song).

    A quote from Mike P:

    So for all the sentimental BS about protecting the integrity of Frank’s music, it’s really about the ultimate revenge by a wife who’s husband never bothered to conceal his sexual activities. Her intent is to have his life’s work lost to the passage of time.

    By releasing dozens of CDs and doing interviews to promote them? Nice evil plot, Gail. Keep it up, please!

    Personally, I think she’s a weird lady who has her own agenda (which may or may not be evil), but I don’t think her intention is to make FZ be forgotten. She couldn’t accomplish that even if she tried – and I’m sure she knows that.

  43. Mike P says:

    A quote from Mike P:

    Mike P says:
    March 10th, 2009 at 10:36 pm » Quote

    A quote from Mr.X:

    I’m not the first person to say this on the web, and it has been confirmed to me personally by individuals who’s names many of you would recognize, but the suspicions that Gail Zappa is trying to destroy the legacy of Frank are true.

    Shock horror!

    A quote from Mike P:

    He had a voracious appetite for groupies that he would be with both on the road and in his home. She is exacting her “revenge” by doing whatever she can to keep his music from being performed.

    That bitch, how dare she! But what’s with the scare quotes? Is her revenge somehow not real revenge? Or are you just kidding?

    Boy oh boy did I fuck this post up. I thought I was so cool and snarky and wiseass. Turns out I’m a moron. Fuck me!

  44. SOFA - Philostopher/Chef says:

    Don’t feel too bad, Mike. I’ve been here before there was a here and I just learned the “trick” of the quote a month or so ago… The key is knowing how and when to use the

    A quote from Mike P:

    A quote from SOFA – Philostopher/Chef:

    Mike P says:
    March 10th, 2009 at 10:36 pm » Quote

    feature. If there’s a post to which I wish to respond in a point by point manner, such as the one you attempted, I would copy the ‘quote’ language, so that I could then insert the selected text within the properly accredited quote.
    Now, say I high-lighted the text I wanted to quote, and then clicked “Quote selected text” above this response box, creating

    A quote from SOFA – Philostopher/Chef:

    Boy oh boy did I fuck this post up. I thought I was so cool and snarky and wiseass. Turns out I’m a moron. Fuck me!

    It will attribute the quote to me – I think… Maybe not. I’ll find out soon enough.
    The point is, the quote feature takes a little getting used to.

    PS I don’t buy the “revenge” argument in the least either!

  45. SOFA - Philostopher/Chef says:

    See? That’s not quite how I envisioned it…

  46. C-H says:

    A quote from Mr.X:

    … the suspicions that Gail Zappa is trying to destroy the legacy of Frank are true. He had a voracious appetite for groupies that he would be with both on the road and in his home. She is exacting her “revenge” by doing whatever she can to keep his music from being performed.

    Yeah, “interesting” is the word – this theory is certainly contrary to her quasi-mystical simperings in the recent CBC radio documentary. What was clear from that documentary though was that she understands nothing about music. She had nothing at all intelligent to say about it on either a technical or emotional level, which implies that it’s really just a kind of ‘asset’ from which she continues to derive an income, the same way that most widows would depend on a pension fund or life insurance, and she has nothing better to do with her time than to attempt to actively manage that asset.

    As for F’s sexual infidelity, surely she must have known what the deal was relatively early in the relationship, and could have left him at any time if she’d been that upset by it. Either she was so genuinely “in love” that she wouldn’t leave him (oblivious to the lyrics of I Ain’t Got No Heart, etc.); or she tolerated it in order to maintain her status, income and lifestyle.

    While her late husband’s musical works are legally her (or at least the ZFT’s) property, she fails to understand the idea that music is there to be played, and that there are reasonably good mechanisms for remunerating the rights-holders of such works when they’re publicly performed. She resents anyone other than herself and her offspring making any money from or even just revelling in the joy of performing F’s music, and like a spoilt child wants to keep it all to herself.

    Have the legacies of The Beatles or Pink Floyd (such as they are) been diminished by the legions of tribute and cover bands playing their music? Of course not. G should get off her high horse and thank the deity of her choice that anyone still gives a damn about her late husband’s work and that it continues to keep her in the manner to which she’s accustomed. Of course D has every right to learn and perform F’s music, but so, frankly, should everyone else.

  47. Gucci poncho says:

    A quote from Mike P:

    I’m not sure you’re giving Keneally or Vai enough credit. They may not be the same thing as Frank Zappa, but they have written some very complex, rich, and fascinating compositions that often betray a debt to Zappa. It’s just that they aren’t limiting themselves to merely copying Zappa – they have their own ideas and lots of other influences.

    It seems like you’re offended by the notion of Keneally or Vai being labeled as successors to Zappa’s throne. Well, I think you’re correct in that there is no one doing what Frank Zappa did. There was only one of him. People are unique – you can copy certain superficial things about another person but you can’t really take the place of them.

    Hopefully I got the quote function right…

    I think we are mostly in agreement, but to be clear:

    There is nothing wrong, and plenty right, with Vai and Keneally. Super heavyweights to be sure, essential gears in the Zappa machine and deep musicians and artists in their own right–and that is said in truth without irony (sometimes on the internet it’s hard to tell…) But when the totality of their output, their “project/object”, their whole schizzle (i.e., their life) is compared with that of FZ’s, it/they come up short.

    I’m inclined to say that is objective fact, but I don’t have the stamina to argue the point, so for now, that’s just an opinion. Furthermore, there is every hope that Vai and Keneally will continue to make music for decades to come. It could very well be their ‘late’ work will be so strong we’ll forget all about FZ. You never know…

    And another thing, somewhere in this thread someone mentioned Bach going out of favor for a hundred years or so. Unfortunately no recordings of Bach playing Bach exist. If there was no “oral tradition” or ear-to-ear continuity in the performance of Bach, how do we know what Bach is really supposed to sound like?

    Frank Zappa does not have this problem as his music has been, in grand style, recorded on all kinds of media and now, thanks to the excellent KUR mux tapes, the music of Frank Zappa lives happily in internet world–which I hear can withstand nuclear war. (And a good thing,that, as the first thing I’m going to do after the nuclear war is log on to killuglyradio and listen to that Frank Zappa in the 80′s mix. it really is quite excellent!)

    :)

  48. Alex says:

    A quote from Alex:

    Personally, I think she’s a weird lady who has her own agenda (which may or may not be evil), but I don’t think her intention is to make FZ be forgotten. She couldn’t accomplish that even if she tried – and I’m sure she knows that.

    This is a rational explanation, too.

    And where the fuck is Mr. X to respond to these queries?

  49. Mike P says:

    A quote from Mike P:

    But when the totality of their output, their “project/object”, their whole schizzle (i.e., their life) is compared with that of FZ’s, it/they come up short.

    I’m inclined to say that is objective fact, but I don’t have the stamina to argue the point, so for now, that’s just an opinion. Furthermore, there is every hope that Vai and Keneally will continue to make music for decades to come. It could very well be their ‘late’ work will be so strong we’ll forget all about FZ. You never know…

    They fall short of the mark because they’re not trying to hit the mark. They’ve got their own goals, which are not FZ’s and not yours. (They’re mine, because I control their minds via telepathic energy waves, but that’s beside the point.)

  50. Mike P says:

    Fuck! I quit!

  51. SOFA - Philostopher/Chef says:

    A quote from SOFA – Philostopher/Chef:

    See? That’s not quite how I envisioned it…

    Okay, let’s see now…

    A quote from Alex:

    A quote from SOFA – Philostopher/Chef:

    Personally, I think she’s a weird lady who has her own agenda (which may or may not be evil), but I don’t think her intention is to make FZ be forgotten. She couldn’t accomplish that even if she tried – and I’m sure she knows that.

    This is a rational explanation, too.

    A quote from Mike P:

    Alex didn’t quote correctly here…

    A quote from Mr.X:

    A quote from SOFA – Philostopher/Chef:

    So for all the sentimental BS about protecting the integrity of Frank’s music, it’s really about the ultimate revenge by a wife who’s husband never bothered to conceal his sexual activities. Her intent is to have his life’s work lost to the passage of time.

    By releasing dozens of CDs and doing interviews to promote them? Nice evil plot, Gail. Keep it up, please!
    Personally, I think she’s a weird lady who has her own agenda (which may or may not be evil), but I don’t think her intention is to make FZ be forgotten. She couldn’t accomplish that even if she tried – and I’m sure she knows that.

    Now let’s see if I did this right – if not

    A quote from Mike P:

    Fuck! I quit!

  52. SOFA - Philostopher/Chef says:

    Still fucked up… But closer!
    (This is like “better to go to the Library and educate yourself”.)
    Lemme study it a little more…

  53. Kevin Hoover says:

    I get lost in the weeds of these fairly abstruse discussions. I don’t believe that Gail is trying to wreck Frank’s legacy though.

    I do know that Mr. Keneally is his own person and does his own thing. He doesn’t try to be Frank, but his music is shot through with what sounds to me like richness equivalent to Frank’s. There are lots of levels to what he does and I anticipate his new releases as much as I used to Frank’s. Just my taste, my opinion.

  54. Alex says:

    *Slams head to table*

    Thanks for pointing out my epic fail, Sofa!

  55. Mr.X says:

    It was asked where I was. I was traveling back from vacation. But it is not my intention to debate with anyone. I simply received information from people who have been involved with FZ and ZFT and thought it might be of interest to some people here. I had read this theory elsewhere and when given the opportunity I asked for confirmation from said persons and was told it was true. They have business to conduct and do not wish for any additional legal problems so I am not identifying them or myself as my associations are not completely unknown.
    As for the quotation marks, simply poor writing style. Someone also said GZ didn’t have the ability to achieve this goal even if she wanted to. This may very well be true, but I believe it to be her intent none the less, and it would make it more difficult for her if this was known.
    I don’t ask that you base your opinions about GZ’s legal actions on one blog entry on the internet, but rather to remember that you’ve read this set of circumstances before in case you read it elsewhere, and if you have the chance to ask someone you believe to have first hand knowledge, ask them and find if they confirm or dismiss this.
    That’s about all I have to say on this, as I find the longer these discussions go on the farther they get from the original point. (i.e. a thread about legal actions against the School of Rock turning into speculation about the quality of the future works of Steve Vai or Mike Keneally)

  56. SOFA - Philostopher/Chef says:

    A quote from Alex:

    *Slams head to table*

    Thanks for pointing out my epic fail, Sofa!

    Thanks for figuring out my failed quote, Alex!

    *not slamming head on table – sucking on a cold brew, and a cig, wondering when the love I’m going to actually figure out this stupid quote function*

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