For those who think Dweezil Zappa Plays Zappa is a cold, “note-by-note” band, incapable of improvisation, I’m obviously not going to alter your view with a few posts, and neither would I endeavour to try. For those willing to look past original preconceptions, though, might be pleasantly surprised, as I was, when I dug deeper into this band.
As evidence, I bring you two clips in which DZ invites Austin guitarist Eric Johnson (yes, of “G3: Live In Concert” fame) on stage at Stubbs Waller Creek Amphitheater to duel guitars – first to “Carolina Hardcore Ecstasy” (above) and then the first encore closer “Muffin Man” (below).
Their guitar duel reminded me of FZ’s show at The Ritz in New York City on November 17th, 1981, and what might have transpired if only FZ had had a spare amplifier to plug his guitar into that night when Al Di Meola came on stage to perform “Clownz On Velvet.” It’s just this sort of controlled spontaneity that FZ was known for throughout his career. Obviously, DZPZ had studied well.
The available videos do not offer complete performances, so listen to the following excerpts from DZPZ‘s November 19th, 2006, performance at Stubbs BBQ, Waller Creek Amphitheater, Austin, Texas, with special guest Eric Johnson, and why I consider these two tracks among the best FZ covers I’ve heard:
Carolina Hardcore Ecstasy – DZPZ with special guest Eric Johnson
[audio:20100612_21 Carolina Hardcore Ecstasy (with Eric Johnson on guitar).mp3]
Muffin Man – DZPZ with special guest Eric Johnson
[audio:20100612_25 Muffin Man (with Eric Johnson on guitar).mp3]
Dweezil Zappa – guitar, vocals
Scheila Gonzalez – saxes, flute, keyboards, percussion, vocals
Pete Griffin – bass, vocals
Billy Hulting – marimba, mallets, percussion
Jamie Kime – guitar, vocals
Joe Travers – drums, vocals
Ben Thomas – vocals, megaphone
Guest: Eric Johnson – guitar