4

Dweezil Zappa's Back on the Road, This Time Performing his Dad's Roxy & Elsewhere

Frank Zappa needs no introduction . . . or does he?

Though considered one the 20th century's greatest composers by critics, much of his music, wasn't accessible to mainstream audiences. Songs like "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" and "Valley Girl," a duet with daughter Moon Unit, broke through, but only enough to present Zappa as a novelty act. His passion for composition that pushed the boundaries of modern rock by incorporating elements of jazz, rhythm and blues, disco, and electronic and classical music was lost on most ears.

That, however, is changing though a series of Zappa Plays Zappa tours orchestrated by his son Dweezil, who is determined to preserve his dad's legacy while simultaneously introducing it to a new generation of listeners.

"People under the age of 30 didn't really know that much about my dad's music," Zappa says by phone from his Los Angeles studio. "They might have known his name, might have heard the kids' names, but the majority of what his music represented was lost on that generation.

"I'd like to see that change," Zappa says. "I always felt that his music and his contributions to music were underappreciated, so I thought it's worth embarking at least on some journey to present the music to new generations to see what this music is like performed live. It makes a really big difference seeing it performed live as opposed to just listening to it."

Zappa sees his role as an educator as well as entertainer. Frank Zappa's music was never popular in the traditional music sense: selling millions of copies and getting heavy radio airplay. What airplay he did receive for the aforementioned tracks only distorted Zappa's musical genius, leaving many to think his forte was comedic songs. Far from it, of course.

Since 2006, Zappa has been explaining and performing his father's music to audiences worldwide. However, before stepping on stage and showing everyone what they were missing, Zappa spent two years brushing up on the elder Zappa's catalog. This included learning not only the often-unusual arrangements that seem to dart about uncontrollably, but also the non-traditional guitar techniques required to get the right sounds.

"It really was the equivalent of getting a lobotomy and then training for the Olympics. A crazy, crazy process," he says. "I had to reprogram all my instincts for playing to learn a new technique."

Resale Concert Tickets

Powered By
powered by Seats For Everyone SEE MORE

  • Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019 / 7:00pm @ Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum 1326 W. Mcdowell Rd Phoenix AZ 85007
    1326 W. Mcdowell Rd, Phoenix AZ 85007

  • Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019 / 7:30pm @ The Pressroom 441 W. Madison Street Phoenix AZ 85003
    441 W. Madison Street, Phoenix AZ 85003

  • Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019 / 7:30pm @ Mesa Arts Center - Ikeda Theater 1 East Main Street Mesa AZ 85201
    1 East Main Street, Mesa AZ 85201

The current tour features a complete tribute of Roxy & Elsewhere, a live recording from 1974 by Frank Zappa and the Mothers. "This one happens to be 40 years old right now and feels like it's from the future," Zappa says. "It's also a particularly good record to introduce an audience to the music if they've never heard it before . . . It's really one of the most diverse records he made, but the core of it is funky and groovy, and that makes it fun to play for an audience."

The audience will hear the album practically verbatim. Unlike a band such as Dark Star Orchestra, which plays live Grateful Dead songs similarly to how the Dead might have played them, Zappa Plays Zappa adheres to the notion that Frank wrote his music to be performed a certain way.

"It doesn't do anything other than say, 'Look what I can do to this music,'" Dweezil says of altering someone's music. "And that's not what I'm trying to do with Frank's music. I'm not trying to change it."

Zappa plays Zappa, nothing else.

"Generally speaking," he adds, "when we pick an arrangement, we stick pretty close to it."

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send:

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >