Grande Mothers Re:Invented Embark On EU Tour

Warning: You’re about to enter a zone heavy with nostalgia. Take with a very large grain of salt.

In the late 70s and early 80s (yes, when Dinosaurs roamed the city streets wearing Walkmans and eating veggieburgers) – when a Zappa tour was an almost regular (if not annual) occurrence, and a Zappa fan might expect sometimes multiple releases from the maestro, and my own rabid obsession with the Mothers of Invention (and all things Zappa) was at least at a somewhat manageable level – myself and my fellow freaks had devised a method of determining the level of freakdom of a given Zappa fan by what albums they had in their collection.

The newbie Zappa/Mothers fan usually only had ‘Overnite Sensation’ and ‘Apostrophe’ in their record collection, drawn to such novelty songs as “Dinah-Moe Humm” and “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow”. As one’s level of freakdom increased, so did the number of albums, and which albums in particular. While a Zappa/Mothers fan might possess ‘Freak Out’, ‘We’re Only In It For The Money’, ‘Absolutely Free’ – a Zappa/Mothers freak would also possess ‘Uncle Meat’, ‘Burnt Weeny Sandwich’, and ‘Weasels Ripped My Flesh’. To me, Zappa and the Mothers reached some of their absolute creative best in those latter albums. “Little House I Used To Live In” from ‘Burnt Weeny Sandwich’ still blows my mind. And some may argue with me, but ‘Uncle Meat’, it’s original vinyl mix, is still a masterpiece of the Mothers music. Certainly, by this point, the obsession and addiction are well-entrenched, and the rest of Zappa’s albums follow in short order, filling out any collection: ‘Hot Rats’, ‘Grand Wazoo’, ‘Waka/Jawaka’, etc. Usually the jazz freaks one knew only possessed a single copy of ‘Hot Rats’. The method didn’t always work, but it was a gauge, nonetheless; useful in social circles often quite hostile to Zappa‘s eclectic musical vision.

Now, let’s leap to the present. It’s been 17 years since FZ left on his final tour. There are plenty of Zappa cover bands to chose from for your optional entertainment, why pick the Grande Mothers Re:Invented?

Simple. Not only were three members of GMSRI alumni of FZ’s bands, they were a creative part of those early Mothers bands, too. They didn’t just reiterate FZ‘s notes. In many cases, given the improvisational nature of the early Mothers bands, it was a creative collusion that has gone unheralded to this very day. To hear them play is to bring the music back to a state many remember so very well (hear clip, above, of “Pound for a Brown (On The Bus)” on August 17th, 2009, from Zappanale 20, Main Stage).

Don’t take just my word, though:


“This outfit was road-tested (their 66th gig), as precise as any of Zappa’s bands and able to burn brightly on a wide range of Zappa selections on Friday (the set list was completely different Saturday). With Brock’s powerful vocals, physical shtick and ability to double expertly on flute and tenor sax coupled with Preston’s electronic salvos, the evening contained a lot of the contradictory eclectic, serious and circusy flavors of a Zappa show.

Indeed, in some cases, the Grande Mothers were able to go deeper into the material, rather than merely parroting Zappa’s notoriously tricky composed lines. “The Idiot Bastard Son,” for example, revealed some lovely harmonic ideas only hinted at on the original Mothers recording.”


“This isn’t just another comeback by some old rock fogies, this is the reincarnation of the “Mothers”! The Grande Mothers Re:Invented let it all hang out. It was clear to see that they were having great fun. Once again the Zappa jazz-rock big band sound of the 70s and 80s rang out. The amazing virtuoso caliber displayed by the Grand old men must have surprised everyone. Hats off!”


“They did an excellent job handling complex pieces somewhere between the Vienna School, avantgarde rock and improvised music. ….the program featured almost exclusively songs from Frank Zappa, including gems such as “Montana”, “Hungry Freaks, Daddy”, “The Black Page Part 1”, and “Village of the Sun”. The Grande Mothers did everything perfectly in their concert……The band answered the call for several encores”


“Rare are the musicians who can even play Zappa’s music, let alone make it live and breathe. So Thank the Lord for the Grande Mothers. The people who loved their music last year ranged in age from 16 to 60, and it’s safe to say that a fine time was had by all.” Dugg Simpson, Artistic Director for the Vancouver Folk Festival

“These days Roy Estrada, along with Don Preston, and Napoleon Murphy Brock from Zappa’s mid to late 70’s Mothers, are touring the world as the Grande Mothers and keeping Zappa’s music alive. They were here at the Folk Festival last year and due to public demand are returning. Believe me, if you ever dug Zappa you don’t want to miss these guys. They’re fun and fuuuuunnnny. They’re wicked musicians and they blew a few minds last summer there on Jericho Beach…”

Grande Mothers Re:Invented EU Tour Schedule:

Tuesday/July 13
Zurich, Switzerland

Thursday/July 15
Reichenbach (Germany) Bergkeller

Friday/July 16
July 16th Folkest Capodistria (Slovenia)

Saturday/July 17
Roma parco degli Acquedotti Rock City

Sunday/July 18
Afragola (Napoli)  Afraka festival villa Comunale

Thursday/22 BADALUCCO (IM)

Friday/July 23
July23 Firenze Fortezza da Basso Live On festival

Saturday/July 24

Thursday/July 29
Trento (venue tba)

Saturday/July 31
Trieste Piazza Marinai d’Italia
 Summer Rock festival

Programma 2010 | folkest
Folkest Festival 2010 – 5 Luglio / 3 Agosto 2010 Tutti gli spettacoli iniziano alle ore 21,15 salvo diverse indicazioni Anteprima Folkest – Sabato 3 Luglio







Grande Mothers Re:Invented are:

Napoleon Murphy Brock (with FZ  1974 – 1984) – vocals, tenor  saxophone, flute, suavenicity, dancing(!)

Roy Estrada (with FZ  1964 – 1984) – bass, pachuco falsettos, and operatic madness

Don Preston (with FZ  1966 – 1974) – piano, keyboard  synthesizers,  electronics, vocals


Robbie “SEAHAG” Mangano – electric guitar

Christopher Garcia – drumset, percussion, marimba, vocals

Author: urbangraffito

I am a writer, editor, publisher, philosopher, and foole (not necessarily in that order). Cultural activist and self-described anarchist.

4 thoughts on “Grande Mothers Re:Invented Embark On EU Tour”

  1. Thanks, LudzNL. Great to hear more GMSRI from Zappanale 20. It really perplexes me why some FZ fans don’t appreciate the GMSRI more. Each and every time I hear them – from Estrada’s bass and fantastic falsetto to Brock’s incredible tenor sax to Preston’s superb keyboard playing – I’m brought back to instances on some of those Mothers records (Burnt Weeny Sandwich, Weasels Ripped My Flesh, Uncle Meat) I never thought I’d be so fortunate as to hear or experience live.



    OCT. 31st Le Trabendo, PARIS FRANCE Tickets 20 euro

    NOV 2nd De.Bees Music Bar, Winsford, Cheshire. Tickets £13 advance/concessions £15 on the door

    NOV 3rd The Deaf Institute, Grosvenor Street, Manchester. Tickets £

    nov 6TH Karditsa – Greece

    Nov. 7th Athens – Greece

    Nov. 12 Teatro Nuovo Trescore Balneario (Bergamo) Italy

    more to come….

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