In 2008, The Muffin Men – a British band, based in Liverpool, England which primarily plays the music of Frank Zappa – performed at Fairport’s Cropredy Convention, performing such Zappa classics as “Zoot Allures”, “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow” and “Black Napkins” (above) as well as “Road Ladies“, “San Ber’dino“, and “My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama“.
I first became familiar with The Muffin Men through the 2007 Jimmy Carl Black compilation, Where’s The $%&§#@’ Beer? (Crossfire Publications) via the following tracks:
The Indian of the Group (Whitehaven, UK, 16 May 2001)
[audio:20100211_The Indian Of The Group.mp3]
Captain Beefheart Medley (Whitehaven, UK, 16 May 2001)
[audio:20100211_Captain Beefheart Medley.mp3]
Plastic Factory (Whitehaven, UK, 16 May 2001)
and these other tracks:
JCB Interview excerpt with Co de Kloet / Road Ladies (with The Muffin Men, ‘Siesta Studios’, Almere, The Netherlands, 28 Apr 2001)
[audio:20100211_JCB Interview excerpt with Co de Kloet _ Road Ladies (with Muffin Men).mp3]
World’s Greatest Sinner Medley (The Muffin Men, The Torrington Finchley London Pub, 25 August 2002)
[audio:20100211_World’s Greatest Sinner Medley.mp3]
What I find so refreshing about The Muffin Men is that since their formation in 1990, they have not performed as a direct cover band in the respect of playing note for note. Rather much as Zappa, himself, they use Zappa’s compositions as guide line by which they craft the own styles of music. I mean, if you want to hear the original, go to the source – yet if you wish to hear what brand new variations are possible within the context of Zappa’s compositions, The Muffin Men are an excellent point of exploration.
In 20 years of operation they have featured no less than six original Zappa band members. Along with Jimmy Carl Black, they have performed with Don Preston, Bunk Gardner, Ike Willis, Napoleon Murphy Brock, and Mike Keneally.
Check out their site, listen to a podcast, or even buy a CD or a DVD.
The Muffin Men
roddie gilliard: guitar, bass (2001/02/08)
carl bowry: guitar (2001/02)
mike smith: keyboard, saxes, vocals (2008)
martin smith: trumpet (2001/02)
andy frizell: bass, sax (2001/02)
tilo pirnbaum: drums (2001)
jimmy carl black: vocals and percussion (2001)
ian jump: lead guitar, vocal (2008)
paul ryan: drums, vocals (2008)
andy jacobson: keyboards, vocals (2008)