Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Dweezil and Band

We Red Sea Pedestrians have an expression: “L’dor va-dor” - from generation to generation - that encapsulates the concept of transmitting knowledge and values from parent to child, a concept that is nestled at the core of Jewish tradition.

The concert I attended last night, Dweezil Zappa Plays Zappa, was a perfect illustration... for Dweezil and his band have taken the musical tradition of an earlier generation and have transmitted it unto a new audience, helping to ensure that it continues to live on.

I have written here several times of Project/Object, Andre Cholmondeley’s Zappaphilic band. But this was the first time I had seen Dweezil’s group, which has been touring since 2006. And I was impressed.

It’s no stripped-down operation, for one. Not just one, but two percussionists: Joe Travers, manning a monster drum kit; and Billy Hulting, who has an assortment of other Bangy Stuff, including a marimba and full set of congas. Scheila Gonzalez handles the keyboard and sax, Jamie Kime is on guitar, Pete Griffin on bass, and Ben Thomas provides remarkably Zappaesque vocals. Of course, there’s Dweezil himself, who does a more than creditable job of channeling his old man’s unique guitar talents.

What did they play? This:
  • Black Napkins
  • T’Mershi Duween
  • Keep It Greasey
  • Broken Hearts Are For Assholes
  • Jones Crusher
  • Peaches En Regalia
  • Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow/Saint Alfonzo’s Pancake Breakfast
  • You Didn’t Try To Call Me
  • Road Ladies
  • Miss Pinky
  • Wino Man
  • Catholic Girls
  • Crew Slut
  • Outside Now
  • Eat That Question
  • Cosmik Debris
  • Willie the Pimp
  • Muffin Man
The last four pieces comprised the encore. At the end, Dweezil offered the audience a choice between “San Ber’dino,” “Willie the Pimp,” and “Muffin Man”; the overwhelming preference (by voice acclamation) was split equally between the latter two. The band wisely decided to play both. Joy!

Dweezil Zappa. You can tell he’s a chip off the old block just by looking at him.

If you are unfamiliar with these tunes, it’s hard to explain how technically complex most of them are - how many different musical styles, genres, and time signatures get crammed in to a single song - and how much fun it is to hear them live, with spleen-homogenizing bass notes rattling the fillings in your back teeth.

I love this stuff... and the audience at last night’s show - a mixed bag of greying Baby Boomers, twenty- and thirty-somethings, and even some barely postpubescent teens - did too. It’s nice to know that a new generation is not only performing Frank’s music, but enjoying it as well. L’dor va-dor, indeed!

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