The Frank Zappa Memorial Pancake Breakfast, also known as Finnish Zappa Tribute band (featuring Napoleon Murphy Brock and Denny Walley) perform “Montana” at Zappanale 19 in Bad Doberan, Germany, on August 17th, 2008 before an enthusiastic and appreciative audience.
This little Finnish band that could has an amazing winding story, from their initial formation to how they were eventually booked for the 2008 Zappanale.
Antti Kivimäki, bassist for Finnish Zappa Tribute:
The Finnish Zappa Tribute band was founded by drummer Joni Leino. Joni, Antti Kivimäki on the bass, Mikko Enqvist on the guitar, Mikael Kakko on keyboards were school mates at the Sibelius High School and we were playing fusion jazz type music during that time (1999-2001). In 2002 Joni was asked by a bar keeper in Nurmijärvi to assemble a project that would play something different from the mainstream, so he had the idea of putting together a big Frank Zappa tribute band with marimba and horns. He asked us and we all loved the music of Zappa, so we joined with him and started recruiting musicians for the band. Singer Antti Koivula, sax player Petteri Hietamäki, trumpetist Janne Toivonen, trombone player Heikki Tuhkanen were all studying at the same music school. I knew the marimba player Olli Kari from the band Uzva. They were all to be asked first and they were enthusiastic about the idea, so we started working in the fall of 2002. Me, Mikko and Joni selected, transcribed and arranged most of the songs and started rehearsing them and soon we had two sets of material.
We have had only with two gigs, both in the spring of 2003. First one was at Nurmijärvi in a bar called Duetto, the second one was Arabia Hall at Helsinki. Both concerts were recorded under the name of Finnish Zappa Tribute.
In the summer of 2006 I was playing bass in the band Uzva and we were coming to play in Germany, so I decided to take some DVDs of our Zappa performance and hand them out to promoters etc. I handed out one for Charly, a promoter for Burg-Herzberg festival, who liked our material and recommended us to Wolfhard Kutz (Arf president at the time). Mr. Kutz contacted me later and expressed his interest of wanting to see the DVD. I sent him one and I guess he liked what he saw and booked us for Zappanale 2008.
The three clips below are a few from that DVD that Antti Kivimäki brought along to Germany. They show Finnish Zappa Tribute band performing “Zoot Allures”, “Lumpy Gravy & Oh No”, and “Inca Roads” at Arabia Hall at Helsinki on March 25th, 2004.
While researching this post, I learned that Stanley Jason Zappa also performed with Finnish Zappa Tribute band, towards the end of their performance at Zappanale 19 on the Finnish Tango, “Sa-Tur-Mah” (if anyone has audio or video footage of this, I’d love to hear/see it).