Posts Tagged ‘Alumni’

Who IS The REAL Frank Zappa, Anyway?

Sometimes I am quite delighted to discover a fan-made Frank Zappa video like the one posted above. It reinforces my belief that the future of FZ’s public image is in the right hands: creative, open-minded, technology embracing hands. This is how I always envisioned Zappa’s legacy being spread.
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KUR’s 2nd Annual Virtual Zappanale Mix

Welcome to KUR’s 2nd Annual Virtual Zappanale Mix for August 2010. For those of us who cannot make it to this year’s festival in Bad Doberan, I have compiled an eclectic mix of some of my favorite FZ covers by well known alumni – and some other not so well known. On this virtual stage, time and space does not matter as acts appear fresh from 1969, while others are temporarily brought back from the hereafter for just one more kick at the can, so to speak, all together in one mix. Of course, I’d love to be there in Bad Doberan, and perhaps I will go there one day, myself. Until then, enjoy the music of the maestro. And the spirit of the Mothers…

Click here to listen to the mixtape.

Note: my sincerest appreciation and thanks to Andrew Greenaway and MagicFingers for their assistance in the compiling of this mixtape.

The Freak-Out List

Coming soon from Prism Films: Frank Zappa – The Freak-Out List, a documentary that explores FZ’s favorite musicians and performers as they appeared on the liner notes of Freak Out!.
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Gary Lucas on Captain Beefheart

Filmed at the Swiss Cottage Hotel, London, September 2005, from the 2006 DVD documentary “Captain Beefheart: Under Review” (Prism Productions), Gary Lucas discusses working with Captain Beefheart in the early 80s, and the making of the track “Cardboard Cutout Sundown” from the 1982 Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band album “Ice Cream for Crow”, and explains Don Van Vliet‘s “Exploding Note Theory”.
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Jimmy’s Last Tour — Jimmy Carl Black & The Muffin Men

After stumbling across this 1993 promo video of Frank Zappa’s “Willie the Pimp” featuring Jimmy Carl Black and The Muffin Men (live with studio footage), I found the following Podcast on The Muffin Men homepage. The band reminisces about Jimmy’s last tour (gigs he had to cancel due to increasing ill health), his friends attempts to help (including old friend Arthur Brown), and the benefit gigs. The podcast also includes an extended live version of Jimmy Carl Black‘s “Great White Buffalo”.

Click here to listen to horn and guitar solos from “Great White Buffalo” recorded in Aschaffenburg entitled, “Aschbuff”.

Arthur Barrow Interview

Recorded on April 18th, 1996, Juha Rompannen interviews Arthur Barrow in Los Angeles, California.
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Don “Sugarcane” Harris & Dewey Terry

Beginning his career as the guitar playing half of the 1950s rock duo, Don & Dewey, Don “Sugarcane” Harris, put down the guitar and picked up the violin after the lack of success for Don & Dewey. Recorded in 1962, and produced by Sonny Bono (yes, folks, that Bono), Frank Zappa has said that Don and Dewey‘s single “Soul Motion” (see clip above) on Rush Records was one of the all-time great R&B records.

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Humor in Music — Z


Does humor belong in music? During this particular Z gig (NAMM, Hilton, Anaheim, CA) in late January, 1995, it did.

Bryan Beller:

The Z show was a private party for Peavey, with a special guest appearance by Dick Clark. We all got dressed up in fake costume stage tuxes and wore ZZ Top beards for a planned skit, before playing our only song of the evening: an even newer medley, one that spanned the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. It was fun, it was silly, it was Z in a nutshell.

Here are Parts III, IV, and V.

Z is:

Dweezil Zappa – guitar, vocals
Ahmet Zappa – vocals
Mike Keneally – guitar, vocals
Bryan Beller – bass
Joe Travers – drums

Strange News From Mars — Jon Larsen

strangenewsfrommars

Written, arranged and produced by Jon Larsen in its entirety, and recorded in Los Angeles in March 2007 with former Frank Zappa band alumni — Tommy Mars, Bruce Fowler, Jimmy Carl Black and Arthur Barrow (also engineered the recording) — Strange News From Mars tells the story of the spacecraft Big Ear III’s voyage to the red planet:

You are now onboard spaceship Big Ear III on the first surrealistic expedition to Mars. We have left the Earth behind, and passed the point of no return.

Three decades ago Big Ear I received an inexplicable signal from space, the mysterious WOW-signal. Whatever it was, our quest on this expedition is no less than to explore this phenomenon and try to answer two other questions that have confused our civilization for millennia.

The crew members are carefully chosen among the finest surrealists of our time, and we aim to please. However, we are in terra incognita, so be prepared for the unexpected.

Capt. Zurcon

Larsen is a guitarist, composer and painter. Painting was his first vocation, and from studying Dali and surrealism in the late 70s he eventually started infusing much of that spirit into music, especially when he took up composing in the nineties. What luck then when individual members of Zappa’s old crew, who Larsen so admired, should approach him with a desire to play on his Mars concept (when they heard of the project) when Larsen went over to LA to start the sessions.

Even though the compositions are all Larsen’s, there is no doubt that the spirit of Zappa infuses the entire album (listen to “Mutant Fromage” and “The Eons Are Closing” on Larsen’s Myspace page). This is made most evident by the key roles that these former Zappa alumni have on the record (Strange time changes, unexpected changes, extended vamps, jumpy bursts of marimba, comedic interjections and Zappa-inspired textures). Needless to say, it is Larsen’s core band of Norwegian musicians that so effectively mimic Zappa’s more jazzy excursions, whom along with and from the gathered alumni are able to build upon the Zappa oeuvre.

One of my favorite tracks on the album, “Dachs Reduction” exemplifies this:

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Musicians on Strange News From Mars:

Jon Larsen – guitar, martian
Tommy Mars – keyboards, telephone
Bruce Fowler – trombone
Arthur Barrow – general magic & bass
Rob Waring – marimba
Jimmy Carl Black – vocal, percussion
Knut Reiersrud – guitar, harmonica
Ole Morten Vågan – bass
Håkon Mjåset Johansen – drums

Strange News From Mars was the first release of Larsen’s new label Zonic Entertainment.

Note: This was a difficult album to track down. Even my usual CD ordering service had to order this one in. To save you time, I suggest you order Larsen/Zonic titles from here.

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.