Baltimore Plans Zappa Dedication & Tribute Concert

Barfies in my mailbox:

Since last month’s confirmation of the September 19th date for Baltimore City’s dedication of a bust of Frank Zappa, community support has been growing for a concert and festival in tribute to the legendary musician, composer and social icon, whose birthplace is Baltimore. The bust, donated by a Lithuanian fan club, will be placed at the Enoch Pratt Free Library Southeastern Anchor Branch in Highlandtown, and plans now include an outdoor concert featuring Zappa Plays Zappa (fronted by Frank’s son Dweezil), and various events at the library and nearby Patterson Theatre in support of the dedication ceremony.

The date itself is especially significant as September 19th is the anniversary of Zappa’s 1985 testimony on Capitol Hill in favor of free expression by Recording Artists at the Senate hearing instigated by certain congressional wives (members of the PMRC) concerning record labeling. Frank Zappa’s widow Gail commented on the remarkable coincidence, stating, “Frank’s legacy rests in his uncompromising defense of the First Amendment and his uncompromising pursuit of excellence clearly demonstrated in the standards he set in all areas of Music and the arts and sciences associated with it. He was self-taught and self-realized. It is hard to imagine how that is possible except for the 4 cornerstones he had going for him: a talent for music, a hard-core curiosity, a keen sense of humor and access to a library. He was a cheap date for History.”

More info here and here.

12 thoughts on “Baltimore Plans Zappa Dedication & Tribute Concert”

  1. Originally from Baltimore too (along with FZ): Mort Lebov (r.i.p.) and Chester Thompson. Since Mort is mort (dead) he won’t be attending, but maybe Chester could fly in for a guest appearance in his hometown(?)
    Either way, it will still be ZPZzzzzzz as the main act.

  2. i am looking forward to this event. i was turned on to this great man and the mothers of invention by a friend in 1968.
    i,ve been a fan ever since.
    wish frank hadn’t fired the mothers, but thats showbizz.
    we are going to have a freak out!!!!!!

  3. What’s new in Baltimore?
    Finally, a little love on display for Uncle Frankie. Very nice. 🙂
    I hope I can make it.

  4. IMHO…best composer period. ever.

    If only because he dealt with a whole other realm of
    creativity because of technology. Maybe Ravel or Webern
    would have done it with the same advancements
    available to them. But they didn’t.

    We were lucky to have Frank.
    Google him at least once a day.
    Really! Do it.

  5. Sheesh – I just realized TOMORROW is the DAY! I’m stuck here in Fairfax, but I hope its a great event – Frank gave us such amazing music and theatre – he is assuredly missed!

  6. I attended “Frank Zappa Day” celebrations up in Baltimore yesterday. A fantastic event. Held a the intersection of Conklin and Eastern Ave (now renamed Frank Zappa Way). There were vendors hawking T-Shirts, and Yellow Snow (lemon juice and white wine). Large replicas of Dental Floss containers were hung from the trees, and the crowd was eclectic to say the least (I forgot to wear my one Zappa T shirt, I wonder if I still fit into it). We arrived fashionably late, and the politicians were in the middle of their speeches. They were on a separate stage built in front of the library to the left of the bust, ZPZ would play from a stage built on the street (Conklin) to the right of the bust. The bust was covered in a sheet. The sound systems was quite poor (one wonders why they could use the same loudspeakers as the band), and the speakers were barely intelligible from where I was which was not that far away. Of course the usual VIP seating/photog stand blocked the best lines of sight. The mayors of Baltimore and Vilnius both spoke, as well as Gail, and I believe Saulius of the Lithuanian fan club. Interestingly enough the only people that could be heard were the eastern european speakers. I always heard as a youth that communication with them was a loud and in your face proposition, perhaps that prejudice had a kernal of truth. Of course I could hear them, but translate…

    After the speeches, the bust was unveiled. A huge roar from the crowd (of at least 1000 I estimate). It stands on a stainless steel pylon about 15′ in the air, with a small plaque half the way up. They had low crowd control railings up, and I was not able to get that close.

    ZPZ was great, It was nice to see the addition of some latin percussion, something I always thought Frank could have used more of. If anyone has any concerns about the new younger frontman/singer/trumpet player, allay those fears. I for one am a bit tired of Nappy and Ray’s schtick. This new singer has a great range (with a nice baritone and falsetto), and good energy. His also carried the muted trumpet parts on “Blessed Relief” nicely. The band sounded good, better frankly (no pun) than when I saw them in Baltimore 2 years ago at Max’s. They played Peaches, ‘, Tiny Lights, Big Swifty, Relief, and many more tunes, really stretching it out, lots of solo space. That played for about 2.5 hours straight with at least 3 encores. Crown was knowledgeable and receptive.

    I really do wish the ZFT would loosen up on cover bands however, as I’d love to see this become an annual event to rival Zappanale.

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