Zappanale (Then & Now) — PGSOR All Stars feat. Denny Walley

Denny Walley, slide guitar player and childhood friend of Bobby and Frank Zappa, Don Van Vliet, and Jim Sherwood (Motorhead) was asked to tour with The Paul Green School of Rock (PGSOR) All Stars. As he says in the clip above, “I jumped at it [the chance].” Walley also talks about his musical origins, influences and jamming with the PGSOR All Stars. Of particular interest is a statement he makes at the 4:27 point in the video:

If it hadn’t of been for other people, bands, and people that loved his [Zappa’s] music, playing it, nobody would know who he is anymore.

The PGSOR All Stars is a group of the best students from the entirety of the program:

The program consists of year-round, weekly individual lessons as well as full band rehearsals for seasonal shows. Instructors are encouraged to stress the fundamentals of both popular music and music theory in their teaching. Instruction is available in electric guitar, bass guitar, drums, keyboards, and vocals. Students are encouraged to play other instruments as well with instruction from other sources. Students learn songs from popular bands/artists like Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd, 80’s hair metal, punk, and grunge. Those songs are eventually played at themed live shows held throughout the year. There are occasional workshops featuring accomplished musicians, and include discussions about past experiences, songwriting, live performance and fame in general. To be admitted, students generally must be between the ages of 7 and 18. No musical training or experience is necessary to attend the school.

They go on tour to play such venues as BB Kings in Times Square, The Knitting Factory in LA and NYC, The Roxy and Crash Mansion in LA, Stubbs in Austin, Hard Rock Cafes, House of Blues, and many of the biggest festivals in the country such as Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits. They tour and play with famous musicians from rock’s past and present, including Jon Anderson, Peter Frampton, Alice Cooper, Adrian Belew, Napoleon Murphy Brock, Stewart Copeland, Ike Willis, and Ann Wilson. The All-Stars consist of five nationally touring groups.

Denny Walley appeared as a special guest with the PGSOR All Stars at Zappanale 19 on August 15th, 2008 in Bad Doberan, Germany presenting a special Zappa/Beefheart program. In the following clips they perform “Dog Breath/Uncle Meat”, “One Shot Deal” and “Nowadays A Woman’s Gotta Hit A Man”:



The Paul Green School of Rock All Stars will return to the Zappanale 20 Main Stage on Saturday, August 15th, 2009. Denny Walley will appear with the Mats & Morgan Band on Sunday, August 16th.

Read an interview of Denny Walley conducted by Idiot Bastard at Zappanale 19. Click here.

5 Responses to “Zappanale (Then & Now) — PGSOR All Stars feat. Denny Walley”

  1. Harry Barris says:

    The future looks bleak for the drumset!

  2. Bálint says:

    “If it hadn’t of been for other people, bands, and people that loved his [Zappa’s] music, playing it, nobody would know who he is anymore.”

    Strangely I’ve most of the times felt the opposite way – having and listenning to FZ’s recording is a constant joy, but (telling the truth) going to an FZ-tribute show is always risky. I remember being really sad whan I saw the Grandmothers in (maybe) ’94 here in Hungary. I’ve also left the very first show of the Hungarian FZ-tribute band – its really sad when you see a not-enough professional show with musicians who “try to be funny” the zappa-way… Okay – this band became REALLY good through the years.

    Sometimes I thought about tribute bands like the way I was thinking about wrong bootleg albums available here and there: “I hope people will NOT think that Frank Zappa is like THAT….” (The first series of Beat The Boots was available here for really cheap, and I think that did not good to FZ’s heritage.)

    So to me these experiences meant that FZ’s music and spirit is almost impossible to experience live anymore – but then suddenly came Ed Palermo, LeBocal Ensemble, Ensemble Ambrosius, the ZPZ, Cosmik Debris Band, the enernal favorite Zomby Wood Midi Sessions… Righ now fortunately there are tons of REALLY GOOD bands playing FZ tunes.

    But ist not an easy thing, and this might have been a reason for me not going to the Zappanale festivals, never, till this day – maybe this year? I dont know. We’ll see. 🙂

  3. urbangraffito says:

    Exactly which version of The Grandmothers are you speaking of, Balint? There were a number of different line-ups in the early years. I do agree, though, going to a FZ-tribute show is always a shot in the dark (usually a very positive one). From my perspective, all I really ever expect is decent musicianship and some interesting interpretations of Zappa’s compositions, no more and no less. For the most part, I have been quite satisfied with most FZ tribute bands I’ve heard.

    Researching the past and present bands performing at Zappanale have certainly given me a much deeper insight into the depth and breadth of many of these tribute bands, their inspiration, and the amazing worldwide influence Frank Zappa has had, not just upon fans of his music who have gathered there for 20 years, but the profound effect he has had on 20th Century musical forms.

    I think it’s also pretty obvious that Zappanale isn’t your ordinary, everyday Festival, not by a long shot. Bullets couldn’t stop it.
    Rockets couldn’t stop it. Litigation couldn’t stop it. The music has a life of it’s own.

    How it will next manifest itself, who can tell?

  4. Bálint says:

    Well it was in ’94, the GM was consisted of Don Preston, Bunk Gardner (I think), JCB, and so on – pictures here..
    I knew very few about them, prior to the show even the lineup was not clear for me (we were before the internet-era).
    Nowadays I think they are much much better, but that time I saw some old men on stage who try to be funny (I might be wrong, but I vaguely remember as if Don Preston would imitate to play the organ with his khm.. “organ”), they did not play very accurately, and the whole thing was quite sad to me. I did not want people to think that this has anything close Frank Zappa. Like “yes, he’s the funny guy sitting on the toilet”.
    One of the reasons we started the Hungarian FZ-page is to let the people know that he’s not only “the funny guy sitting on the toilet”, but a musician. 🙂
    So, this is my story, but that’s just one side of the whole thing, of course. 🙂

  5. urbangraffito says:

    Oh, what a treat it would have been (at least to me) to see that early incarnation of the Grandmothers (especially to hear Bunk Gardner play). It does sound, though, that you brought high expectations to their performance, Balint. Indeed, sometimes people forget that the Mothers of Invention were a group, and their humour, their onstage theatrics, hi-jinx, were the product of the group’s individual talent’s (not just the creation of just one man: Zappa). All one has to do is listen to any of The Grandmothers albums (in particular, those first releases), as well as Don Preston’s, Bunk Gardner’s, and Jimmy Carl Black’s releases (the spirit and energy and humour of the early Mothers is definitely to be heard on those albums).

    I think most fans of Zappa’s music wouldn’t mistake his irreverence for that “the funny guy sitting on the toilet” and those who do, are likely the kind not to bother to get too far beyond the scatalogical references in his lyrics.

    For whatever reason you started the Hungarian FZ-page, Balint, I’m glad you did. It certainly does add to Zappa’s overall cyberscape.

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