You Call That News?
Added week-ending 3 December 2023:
- Both volumes of Mike Keneally's pre-hat. Tar Tapes compilation albums are now available on his Bandcamp page. He also has another album with Marcelo Radulovich out: Bask, "a massively varied collection of vocal tunes, featuring Marcelo’s amazing voice, playing and production skills, and a whole bunch of me on guitars, keyboards and bass (and some sangin’. I sing lead on the tune Quarry)."
- ZappaCast: Funky Nothingness - Deep Dish (Episode 2) here.
- On 4 December, Treacherous Cretins will be paying homage to FZ by sharing their show performed alongside Robert 'Bobby' Martin at the 100 Club in London earlier this year. Here's the link.
Added week-ending 26 November 2023:
- After Pink Napkins on bass clarinet (by Heather Roche), here's Republicans on cello by Louise McMonagle.
- Sadly, Zappanale lost €150k this year, meaning things have got to change. Among a number of ideas being mooted are an increase in camping costs and a crowdfund campaign. More info as and when, but meantime read this report.
- Dweezil now has another track available for free download from his forthcoming Hot Rats Live! concert album - it's The Gumbo Variations, recorded in the last city in the UK that his father ever played in (and currently DZ too).
- The GrandMothers Of Invention are playing a gig in LA next month. Details in the Diary.
- Ossi Duri, who formed in the mid-90s, will be releasing an album to mark the 30th anniversary of FZ's passing. Here's the first teaser track - their rendition of Little Umbrellas.
- New book by Marco Fraquelli, A Nessuno Frega Un Cazzo Se Siamo Grandi Musicisti. Tutti Gli Uomini, E Le Donne Di Frank Zappa (which translates to "Nobody gives a crap if we are great musicians. All the men, and women, of Frank Zappa"). Says Marco, "It is not really a book about Zappa, but it offers 109 short portraits of musicians who played with him [from Altschul to Zavod]. To make the selection, I took The Zappa Tour Atlas criteria: all the musicians who played at least three times live with FZ, with some exceptions." The book is obviously written in Italian.
Added week-ending 19 November 2023:
- Musicians from the Rhône clarinet collective and the Lyon conservatory's large percussion ensemble will perform a 'Zappa Concert' on 1 December at Espace Jean Couty in Lyon. Full details here.
- Julien's sold FZ's old Gibson ES-5 Switch Master guitar for $63,500.
- In this interview with Forbes, System Of A Down frontman Serj Tankian talks about his musical likes and influences - saying: "Artists that I like I listened to their whole catalogue of music. I might listen to something less than others but I'll check everything out. Zappa being an example. The orchestra stuff Zappa did versus Mothers of Invention versus a million other things. I like checking them all out because I want to understand that artist in that artist's full capacity, not just what he did on that one record that everyone loves." His version of Yellow Snow can be heard here.
- There was another live ZappaCast, this time commemorating the release of the 50th anniversary of Over-Nite Sensation set. Check it out here.
- Watch Cheech Marin talk about his audition for Ruben And The Jets here. (See also his liner notes for Greasy Love Songs.)
- Part 2 of the Travers/Mesker Over-Nite Sensation artwork chat is here. The liner notes in the new 50th anniversary set state there is no documentation that lists all of the musicians on Face Down (I'm The Slime - Demo) - speculating that the rhythm guitarist might be Tony Duran. Perhaps my interview with the late Nigey Lennon provides the answer?
- Check out Tink Walks A Log by Arthur Barrow on Bandcamp (or YouTube).
- Interesting old video interview with Lorraine Belcher Chamberlain about her time with FZ here. My three written interviews with Lorraine can be found here.
- Here's a recent interview with Bill Harkleroad (aka Zoot Horn Rollo) discussing his experience playing in Beefheart's Magic Band, the story behind Trout Mask Replica and more.
- It seems work is progressing well on Emile Chill's strange AI-generated sci-fi movie, Zappa Galaxy. Here's the latest trailer.
Added week-ending 12 November 2023:
- ZappaCast Episode #63: Funky Nothingness – Deep Dish (Episode 1) is here.
- As well as Zappa Union, Banned From Utopia will also play a couple of dates in Sweden next March. Details in the Diary.
- FiDOplaysZAPPA are putting together a live album from their summer tour with Robert Martin. You can pre-order your copies here. And here's a video-clip from said tour.
- Here Cal Schenkel discusses some of his FZ album covers.
- Zappawoman Valentina Ciardelli will be performing Peaches En Regalia at the University of West London on 15 November. More details here.
- Stuart Penney has written this great new blog about how he lost his girlfriend thanks to Captain Beefheart. It includes an exclusive interview with John “Drumbo” French.
Added week-ending 5 November 2023:
- Here's a third (and probably final?) teaser track from the soon-come Over-Nite Sensation set: Dirty Love (with Quad guitar).
- The NYU Percussion Ensemble (conducted by Jonathan Haas, who took part in Zappa's Universe in 1991) performed a 'Frank Zappa Halloween Spectacular'. Check it out on YouTube.
- Don Van Vliet: Standing On One Hand, an exhibition of Captain Beefheart's paintings, will take place from 23 November 2023 to 17 February 2024 at the Michael Werner Gallery in London's Mayfair. Here's the press release.
- Dweezil has a free download of Willie The Pimp on his website - a Halloween treat! He says "there's a whole Hot Rats Live! concert coming very soon."
- Recently found Mothers 1970 Piknik footage, here and here.
- This guy has the 50th anniversary Over-Nite Sensation box set already. And here's a video of last week's listening session. And as if that wasn't enough, here's a conversation 'twixt Zappa Team members Joe Travers and Michael Mesker about the artwork.
- Unfortunately GoldmanT's GoFundMe campaign stalled at the first hurdle, but he did get Heather Roche to perform Pink Napkins on bass clarinet. You can watch that here, but as to whether we will ever see Republicans performed on cello is in your hands.
Added week-ending 29 October 2023:
- Praying for Ike Willis, who is apparently in a bad way in hospital. Here's hoping he gets well soon.
- Last Tuesday there was an invitation-only Over-Nite Sensation Atmos listening party at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood.
- Bebo 'Best' Baldan, who leads The Super Lounge Orchestra, has written a 35 page guide to approaching FZ's music: ZAP! Frank Zappa Made Easy - with Brian Eno?! Earlier this year, he also put together this tribute to Frank on YouTube.
- You can enjoy An Enchanted Evening With Pamela Des Barres at the West Hampstead Arts Club on 25 & 26 November.
- Apparently The Dub Room Special is now available for streaming on Apple TV and YouTube movies.
- The Opinionated Hippie is rating Zappa cover albums on YouTube. He describes the Would You Like A Snack? 200 Motels 50th anniversary tribute album I compiled as, "A fantastic listen"! Watch the video here. And buy the album here or here!
- Julien's Auctions, in cahoots with The Zappa Trust, has now added a bunch more stuff for sale: more equipment, plus clothing, signed underpants (not Frank's), school notes, vehicle related documents and more! Look here.
- One Shot Deal (ie. ZPZ without Dweezil) now has its own website.
- We have some clarity on those two 'Frank Zappa' US shows in November, mysteriously listed at zappa.com last week: they seem to be a couple of orchestras playing The Dog Breath Variations.
Added week-ending 22 October 2023:
- Ike Willis and Ray White have upcoming US gigs with (respectively) Marcus Rezak and The Stinkfoot Orchestra. Details in the Diary.
- Wishing my friend Chato Segerer good luck on 24 October, when the Nuejazz Festival in Nuremberg will present the Nuecomer Jazz Award. The theme this year is FZ, and Chato tells me, "Just for this occasion, I founded the band ZAPPED. Same instrumentation as in my former band CHATO!, but mallets instead of keyboards." More here. And check out Chato's rendition of Marque-son's Chicken here.
Added week-ending 15 October 2023:
- Second preview track from the forthcoming Over-Nite Sensation 50th anniversary box set is Face Down (I'm The Slime demo).
- A few more Zappa related events in the Diary, including 'Music of the Time - Pinked Dreams' with the WDR Symphony Orchestra performing two FZ pieces in Cologne on 1 December. And the full programme for ‘Zappa. Yes. Yes. Yes.’ in Brussels can now be found here.
- Julien's Auctions has a few more FZ items up for grabs under the banner of 'Played, Worn, & Torn: Rock ‘N’ Roll Iconic Guitars And Memorabilia'. There's a studio-used Neumann microphone, Tommy Mars' stage-played Hammond organ and Frank's Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster guitar (which was the subject of a recent YouTube video mentioned below). Look here for more.
- Chad Wackerman will visit Europe next April - alongside Michael Lee Firkins (guitar) and Stu Hamm (bass) - on the Freeway Jam: A Salute to Jeff Beck tour. No UK dates, sadly.
- Change of date for Zappadan Zappajam #8 in West Acton. Organiser Mike Fox says, "A problem with the venue has forced us to change the date to Friday 1st December. Bands confirmed, other than London Zappa Collective, are: MindfooD who will be playing some Zappa material; and The Spanner Trio playing Zappa arrangements. In addition, there will be some guest players and also some open sessions where anyone who wants to will be encouraged to join in."
- Dale Bozzio: "I’m so excited to announce the release of my new LP Hollywood Lie! It’s one of my greatest accomplishments! The record features all original songs. It’s about my deep concern for all the people suffering with depression, living a double life or just getting caught up in the glitz and glamour and empty promises of Hollywood." Dale is also about to reissue an expanded version of her New Wave Sessions album featuring 5 exclusive recordings. And as if that weren't enough, Record Store Day Black Friday in the US sees the release of Missing Persons' Live In New York 1981 on clear blue vinyl.
- Another new French language book, out now: Frank Zappa by John Raby "is intended as a practical guide to (re)discover the colossal work of one of the greatest composers of the last century". And all being well, next year we'll see a book called Frank Zappa's America: Music, Satire, Politics & the Fight Against Christian Fascism by Bradley Morgan.
Added week-ending 8 October 2023:
- This Idiot is happy to report that since creating this new Zappa News website at the end of March, it has had over 40,000 visitors - with over 62k page views. Big thanks to all who take the time to check it out.
- Chanan Hanspal examines the Alien Orifice guitar interlude - with help from Steve Vai - here.
- The Banned From Utopia (line-up as per Zappanale, with Ray White, Robert Martin, Chad Wackerman and Scott Thunes et al) will play the Zappa Union in Oslo in March next year. Before then, there's the 'Zappa - Nordic Wind Festival' featuring The Norwegian Wind Ensemble in Oslo. Dates and more deets in the Diary.
- Alex Dahl has added a new page to his FZ Life On The Road site, covering the late 1976 band with (and without) Bianca. Here's the link.
- Guranfoe (formerly Gumbo Variation) have posted their Live At Brighton Electric performance from August on YouTube. You can also stream or download the gig via Bandcamp.
- Looks like the release of the Over-Nite Sensation 50th anniversary box set has been delayed a few weeks. Hopefully this doesn't make it less likely we'll see any special release marking the 30th anniversary of Frank's passing in December.
- Ahmet has another new business venture, named after his children. Halos & Arrows is "a new hyper-curated and exclusive pop culture destination," offering large-scale, museum-quality prints for sale. Among the "rad & rare limited-editions" are a late 60s snap of FZ and this Mothers 1971 concert ticket.
- Grab your copy of The Mother People Anthology Vol. 2 here.
- Coming to the US this Record Store Day Black Friday (24 November) is a 45th anniversary deluxe edition of Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band's Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller). This limited edition 2LP vinyl set features the original album, plus an additional LP with twelve previously unreleased demos, rough mixes and alternate versions from the Shiny Beast-era. Read all about it here.
- As y'all know (from The Real FZ Book and elsewhere), Dee Snider and John Denver both spoke out at the PMRC Senate hearings alongside FZ in 1985. The Twisted Sister front man recently saw Alex Winter's Zappa documentary and noted, "It repeatedly said Frank was the only one who stood up! I found myself sitting in my living room with my hand raised. ‘Excuse me…'" He added, "Frank was amazing to hang with on the day and, having subsequently spoken with some of his children, I was informed he thought highly of me. I’m not offended by the omission. Frank’s kids are incredibly proud of their dad and just wanted to shine a light on him."
Added week-ending 1 October 2023:
- Moon Unit is brother Ahmet's special guest on his latest Rocktails podcast. Listen here. (Or, if you live outside the UK, you may be able to watch it all here. There's a 30 second reel on Instagram for anyone interested.)
- The new The 500 with Josh Adam Meyers podcast features Ahmet Zappa - supposedly talking about Freak Out! - here. (He actually talks a lot more about other things, but an entertaining listen nonetheless.)
- Terry Kirkman, who played with FZ and The Boogie Men circa 1960-61 and went on to form The Association, recently passed away. Read more here. And over here also (on his assocation with FZ).
- Here's Sofa #2 from Valentina Ciardelli's new 'homage to irreverence' chamber music project, performed at Trinity Laban earlier this week. They also performed The Dangerous Kitchen and Your Mouth during the workshop. The trio are going into the studio to record a full album in the new year.
- The Idiot's Online Shop has knocked a couple of quid off the price of my Zappa's London pocket map. Read all about it here.
- Further to last week's news regarding tenor saxophonist Jeff Hollie: he is part of a new trio called HBH, which comprises himself, drummer Armin Beck and pianist Fred Händl. Look out for more on them soon!
- Not sure how I missed this - from over a year ago - but Lizzy Jagger had to have the old Zappa home on Woodrow Wilson fumigated. It wasn't even reported in one of her then step-father's rags!
- As some may have noticed, this Idiot now has a TikTok account. I also quite like the girl band HAIM (hey, ain't I hip and trendy?). Anyway, they recently lip-synched to Valley Girl - and here it is on the afore-mentioned online video sharing social networking service.
- Just in time for Christmas comes official FZ biographer Alan Clayson's career spanning compilation album, Ancient and Modern: Highlights of Half-a-Century. Pre-order here. (No update on the bio's publication, by the way.)
Added week-ending 24 September 2023:
- Joe's Garage saxist Jeff Hollie will be ZERO's special guest at the Zappa Nacht in October. Jeff will also be playing with Fred Händl at Mosae Zappa the following month.
- Zappawoman Valentina Ciardelli has been appointed double bass Professor by the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London. Read all about it here. Valentina will be taking part in Absolutely Free / Hommage to irreverence in Music - a new chamber music perspective in the Peacock Room at Trinity Laban, King Charles Court, Old Royal Naval College, London on Tuesday 26 September.
Added week-ending 17 September 2023:
- Here's part two of the Broadway The Hard Way album deep dive from the Poodle Bites on YouTube. (Part one is here.)
- Frank's Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster guitar (used on the first few Mothers' albums) will be up for grabs via Julien's Auctions in November. Check out this YouTube vid.
- Chanan Hanspal has spoken with Steve Vai again: this time they talk about Alien Orifice and Steve's transcription of the Roxy & Elsewhere album. Go here.
- There's a silver ring reputedly worn by FZ and a couple of handwritten scores up for grabs in The Rock & Roll Americana Auction at the Gotta Have Rock And Roll auction house.
- The original G3 (Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson and Steve Vai) are reuniting and will tour together early next year.
- Cleopatra Records are about to issue two new albums by supergroup The Fusion Syndicate. Firstly (this week) comes Speedway On Saturn's Rings, then Beautiful Horizon follows in November. These feature performances by the likes of John Etheridge, Chad Wackerman, Randy Brecker, Chester Thompson, Robby Krieger and many other similar luminaries.
- I have recently ensured all of my books, plus the CDs I curated for Cordelia Records, are in stock in my little webshop. I have also migrated all of the old info on the CDs from my old site here to Zappa News, and the page for the 21 Burnt Weeny Sandwiches album now includes links to the 21st track and a version of Valarie by my dear departed friend Gamma (with help from Buzzo); I have also created a visulaizer video for John Tabacco's track.
- The 8th Zappadan Zappa Jam will take place (as usual) at the Acton Garden Village Association in London on 8 December 2023. London Zappa Collective will host the event and the band's main man Mike Fox says, "We hope to have lots of guest players and possibly guest bands. If you would like to join in please get in touch. Of course, if you just want to come along and enjoy the party, you will be made very welcome." One guest band has already stepped forward: the Dan Spanner Trio will play a set of Zappa material.
Added week-ending 10 September 2023:
- In response to uDiscoverMusic.com announcing the 50th anniversary Over-Nite Sensation set, one 'Dweezil Zappa' wrote about FZ's original intent for the material on Over-Nite and Apostrophe (plus tracks that later ended up on Läther and The Lost Episodes). This double-album project was apparently to have been named The World’s Greatest Sensation. UPDATE: Dweezil says the comment (now deleted) was NOT written by him: "I don’t have anything to do with the releases or promotion. It’s some jackass pretending to be me or a bot or a promotional ploy by the label, or all of the above. Either way it wasn’t me." How annoying. Apologies to the Dweez for any upset inadvertently caused by all this old bollocks.
- Warren Cuccurullo makes a guest appearance on two tracks from Duran Duran's Halloween-themed Danse Macabre album, to be released on 27 October.
- Former Magic Band guitarist Gary Lucas has been added to the line-up for Mosae Zappa in November.
- The 30-piece Zappa Orchestra are playing the H4 Festival at Santa-Monica-Platz in Hamm, Germany this Friday (8 September). Free admission! Details here.
- Robert Martin will be the special guest of Sinister Sister at the Zappa event at Bozar in December. More deets here.
- GoldmanT (who is hoping to get perfect renditions of Republicans and Pink Napkins on cello and bass clarinet - see w/e 20.08.23 below, or go here to help him), has used NotePerformer technology and several hours to become the Wallander Chamber Orchestra and performed this version of Naval Aviation In Art?
- Chester Thompson has a new album out, on Bandcamp, on 1 October. Wake-up Call features Scheila Gonzalez on one track.
- Following the Zappa Cruise survey, the ZappaCast team has now asked for thoughts on it having a Patreon.
- Ensemble Modern is currently touring Europe (including London's Wigmore Hall) with Sir George Benjamin: the concerts feature Edgard Varèse's Octandre. Details here.
Added week-ending 3 September 2023:
- The Vegetarians have covered the Village People classic YMCA, with Napoleon Murphy Brock handling the vocals. Hang out with all the boys here.
- The Wrong Object will be playing at Mosae Zappa festival in November.
- Frank talks unions and plays guitar in this new vid from the always excellent Poodle Bites.
- Available on Bandcamp is a collaboration between Mike Keneally and multi-instrumentalist Marcelo Radulovich. The pair last worked together over twenty years ago on Mike's excellent 'acoustic album' Wooden Smoke. It's a 24-minute instrumental collection called MONDAY - "the opening salvo of an ongoing collaboration, as we also have an album of songs with vocals in the works," explains Mike.
- The Whole Man Bird Fireball Thing (a medley comprising I Wanna Be Your Man, What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body?, Free as a Bird and Fireball XL5) recorded by The Thurston Lava Tube in 2007, has finally been remixed and uploaded for your listening/streaming/downloading pleasure on that there Bandcamp.
Added week-ending 27 August 2023:
- Peter over at United Mutations happened upon this great clip of Z playing at the Dynamo Open Air festival in Holland 30 years ago. Watch the band (Ahmet, Dweezil, Scott Thunes, Mike Keneally and Joe Travers) rip through The Medley.
- A five disc (4CD/1 Blu-ray audio) Over-Nite Sensation: 50th Anniversary Edition will be released by Universal on 3 November. It includes studio outtakes plus live material from the Hollywood Palladium (where Ricky Lancelotti made a guest appearance) and Cobo Hall concerts, both featuring the Mothers with Jean-Luc Ponty and Sal Marquez. The first preview track is (aptly) Fifty-Fifty (basic tracks, take 7).
- The fabulous Z3 have a new album, Filibuster For Frank, up on Bandcamp.
Added week-ending 20 August 2023:
- Here's a video update from Dweezil on what he's been up to since 2020. He says he hopes to hit the road again in 2024, if it's financially viable.
- ZappaaCast Episode #62: The History And Collected Improvisations Of The Mothers Of Invention: Epilogue.
- Zappateer GoldmanT has a dream: to get perfect renditions of two of FZ's air sculptures (Republicans and Pink Napkins) on cello and bass clarinet, respectively. He has set up a GoFundMe page so that the musicians can be paid for their efforts. If you'd like to help him realise his dream, go here.
- Great little article on the late Jim Gordon which focusses on his contribution to the Imaginary Diseases album.
- Alex Dahl has been tweaking his Life On The Road website: "I've got a new page on the 1976 Pacific/European Tour, and I've updated and corrected a bunch of things, like I've included info on Funky Nothingness, a review (with YouTube link) of the newly discovered Boston '69 show and I've added a lot of extra detail to the late '71 show reviews."
Added week-ending 13 August 2023:
- The Mother People Anthology, Volume 2 is available to pre-order from Scott Parker's website. It covers issues 14-26 of the 80s fanzine, created and edited by Rob Cerreta. Publishes on 1 October.
- I am constantly updating and expanding my self-published Zappa FUQs eBook, which currently stands at just over 30,000 words. Topics covered include Beverly D’Angelo, Hot Rats, London Hot Spots, The Sloatmans, The Real Rubén, Dweezil, Zappa's Women, Vincent Beldon, 200 Motels, Joni Mitchell, Shirley-Ann, Drafted, Pee-wee Herman and Nervous Norvus. If you have previously purchased a copy, the download link should be unchanged (let me know if you need a reminder). Otherwise, why not grab yourself a copy now? Look here.
- The Poodle Bites (formerly The Aaron Channel on YouTube) has posted this bonus episode of its now four part trilogy of videos taking a deep dive into the Broadway The Hard Way album. Chapter One is here.
- The Furious Bongos (who were great a Zappanale BTW) are playing a bunch of US dates in October with Chad Wackerman on drums - details in the Diary. The band also plan to come back to Europe April/May 2024.
- Enrico Iorio wrote this article about Moon Unit for his local online newspaper. (In Italian, but easily translated in this day and ago, right?)
Added week-ending 6 August 2023:
- Don Preston on Facebook: "Well folks, a few days ago my heart stoped for 6 seconds. One more second and I would be dead! I had a pacemaker installed and WOW! I can now live another 90 years. Yeeeeaaaah." Here's hoping he does! Be well, Don.
- Alice Stuart - singer, songwriter and guitarist in a very early incarnation of the Mothers Of Invention (circa 64/5) - has sadly passed away. In a recent interview, she said of her brief tenure with Frank, "I was really trying to go in a different direction at that point. He wanted me to continue playing acoustic guitar, and he wanted to play things around the Delta stuff that I was playing. The Mothers were a blues band then, and I wanted to start playing electric guitar, so we just basically had different ideas. He was obviously a go-getter, and it just made me think maybe I could do whatever I wanted to do." She went on to work with the likes of Albert King and Van Morrison.
- The Drum Channel recently interviewed Aynsley Dunbar about his illustrious career - including, of course, his tenure with FZ.
- New book, Drums & Demons: The Tragic Journey of Jim Gordon by Joel Selvin, will be published in March 2024.
Added week-ending 30 July 2023:
- Samuel R. Howard finds the beat in Echidna's Arf.
- The fifth Funky Nothingness video is up on YouTube and again features Ian Underwood.
- Robert Martin (on Facebook): "One week ago, my Zappa alumni buddies and I were getting ready to take the stage as the headliner, the final performance on the main stage at Zappanale 2023. We were in good spirits, raring to go, feeling well prepared and excited to crank some Frank for the always appreciative Zappanale fans. And we played a show that had to be one of the best we've ever done as individuals and as a group endeavour as well. I have to say, it was freaking magic, and I am grateful to have participated in it and contributed to it." See what he means here.
- 200 Motels - The Suites will once again be performed in France by the Nice Philharmonic Orchestra, The Headshakers and the Percussions de Strasbourg - but this time in Nice rather than Paris, where it was performed in 2018. Details here.
- Brazilian FZ tribute band Let's Zappalin' have a new album on Spotify, One Size To Save A Drowning Witch.
Added week-ending 23 July 2023:
- Two new albums featuring Napoleon Murphy Brock are about to be readily available: Dimention(i)s Mat(t)er by Inventionis Mater; and Bad Doberan & Elsewhere by NMB & Ensemble Musikfabrik.
- Those of us signed up to the official UMe/Zappa mailing list just got an email: "The Zappa team has been thinking about creating a new Frank Zappa immersive experience to bring this community together, and we're thinking that a cruise vacation might be the best way to do that. In order to do this right, we want to build this together. So please sound off on the below survey what would make this event the vacation of a lifetime. Take The Survey."
- Zappanale #32 was a total blast - as I knew it would be. My personal highlights were Orange Claw Hammer, Billy Cobham (who'll be 80 next year?!?), Jon Anderson and Paul Green Rock Academy, the Furious Bongos and, of course, Banned From Utopia: despite Scott Thunes protestations to the contrary, they were that good!
- Check out Samuel R. Howard's St Alfonzo score analysis here.
- The All New Frankly Don't-Wop Duo's rendition of Let's Make The Water Turn Black (which they performed at Zappanale) is available from Bandcamp here.
- Shedloads of new dates in the Diary - including Mosae Zappa, Treacherous Cretins featuring Robert Martin and next year's Zappanale!
- Funky Nothingness Episode 4 was recorded during the album's release party.
Added week-ending 16 July 2023:
- Steve Vai talks Zappa - with Chanan Hanspal.
- A few moments with Roxy & Elsehwere's Brenda Starr Light.
- Peter Occhiogrosso has penned this blog about The Real Frank Zappa Audiobook.
- Italian progressive jazz rock band Spirale have released their version of Blessed Relief on streaming platforms: it's a teaser from their forthcoming FZ tribute album.
Added week-ending 9 July 2023:
- Chanan Hanspal's latest video looks at Steve Vai's Talking Guitar and Insane Tuplets!
- The new Zappa Early Renaissance Orchestra album is out. Grab it from Bandcamp or the Cordelia Record Shop. And here's a chat with ZERO's head honcho, Kevin Crosby.
- The Stinkfoot Orchestra recently bumped into Brenda, the 'professional harlot' from Roxy & Elsewhere.
- Quite a few 2024 dates in the Diary already, plus a bunch coming up shortly.
- For those who missed the Funky Nothingness ZappaCast livestream, here it is on YouTube. Mention is made of 'Moldred'; Frank suggested this as the name for the unborn child of a San Franciscan couple during a phone-in on KCBS radio in 1984!
Added week-ending 25 June 2023:
- Jan Akkerman has removed Zappanale from his list of 'Upcoming Dates' and Napoleon Murphy Brock & Hamburg Jazz Trio will now headline the main stage on Friday (14 July).
- Frank's 'buxom red-haired companion', Lorraine Belcher, could use some help. Please do so if you're able.
- Pasadena’s Los Angeles College of Music (LACM) will create a posthumous drumming scholarship in honour of Ralph Humphrey. LACM will be holding a memorial at its Pasadena campus in late August where details will be announced.
- Check out Chad Wackerman preparing for his upcoming gigs with Banned From Utopia on Instagram.
- A few months back, Denny Sanders posted his tape of The Mothers with Roland Kirk at The Boston Globe Jazz Festival on SoundCloud. Here it is. (Thanks to Tim!)
- Just added to SoundCloud (but recorded several years ago), Short Wave; Long Haul by Tom Walsh and N.O.M.A. -featuring Don Preston.
- Alex Dahl has just published a new page on his on Life On The Road website covering FZ's Fall 1975 North American and Yugoslavian tours. Here's the link.
Added week-ending 18 June 2023:
- It appears that former Focus guitarist Jan Akkerman has been drafted in to replace Gong at Zappanale next month. Wow!
- The second 'making of' Funky Nothingness video features Ian Underwood.
- Dweezil is featured on the track Is My Dick Enough? from Steel Panther's latest album, On The Prowl.
- Nugs.net now has 96 FZ titles available to stream or download. These are all Official Releases, of which only the soundtrack to The Torture Never Stops (the Halloween 1981 MTV show) is an apparent oddity, in that it has never previously been available in this audio-only format before. The Zappa In New York 40th anniversary edition appears to have most of the tracks on Disc 5 missing, but this is likely down to shoddy admin. All a bit odd, really.
- Mark Volman has revealed he was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia in 2020. In spite of this, it's business as usual for Flo, who is quoted as saying, “I got hit by the knowledge that this was going to create a whole new part of my life. And I said, ‘OK, whatever’s going to happen will happen, but I’ll go as far as I can.’”
- The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University has acquired a collection of artwork, memorabilia and personal effects from Cynthia Plaster Caster including, of course, many of her casts. More here. As was reported after her passing, Pamela Des Barres is now working on completing Cynthia's autobiography. But first, Miss Pamela needs to finish writing her own third memoir.
- Composer Steve McAllister"s first album under his own name, I Hope You Are Okay, features six-string contributions from Mike Keneally and XTC's Dave Gregory. More detail over at United Mutations.
Added week-ending 11 June 2023:
- Read my review of Mark Volman's new autobiography here.
- Here Chanan Hanspal talks about incidences where Frank's music sounds like someone else's.
- In December, to mark the 30th anniversary of FZ's passing, Bozar (Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels) will present a two-day programme of talks, concerts and films. Details to follow.
- Part 3 of the History and Collected Improvs ZappaCast now available here.
- Latest video from The Aaron Channel is about FZ & Ted Nugent.
- In an interview with Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler in the Sunday Times Magazine, coinciding with his new memoir Into The Void, the article says one of the only nights in the band’s 49-year career he will concede got seriously 'weird' was when they celebrated FZ’s birthday watching him administer champagne enemas to naked women doing handstands in a restaurant! Funny that neither Ozzy Osbourne nor Tony Iommi mention this is their respective tomes.
- Loads more stuff added to the Bastard's Diary.
- One-time Mother Del Casher has an album, just out on Bandcamp.
Added week-ending 4 June 2023:
- Another preview track now available from Funky Nothingness: listen to Khaki Sack on YouTube.
- Impromptu Improvisations - Vol. #1 by ZAPPATiKA is now available to stream/purchase on Bandcamp and view on YouTube.
- In August, Devin Townsend will release Devolution #3 – Empath Live In America, featuring Mike Keneally and Morgan Ågren.
- The Banned From Utopia will play four warm-up shows at the Baked Potato in July ahead of their headline appearance at Zappanale. See Diary for dates. Regarding use of the BFU band name, Scott Thunes wrote on Reddit: "The Zappa Band is not and probably won’t be again. Since we couldn’t get Joe to travel to Europe for a one-off and Mike K had to leave to play with Devin Townsend, we lost our name. I don’t care what we’re called as long as I get to play this music."
- Listen to The Vegetarians performing Eff-Zee's The Torture Never Stops here.
- A whole bunch of official Zappa releases are now appearing at nugs.net for download/streaming.
- In a few days, my old website at www.idiotbastard.com will cease to be. This means all of the interviews and reviews (including those for numerous Zappanales) will disappear. Obviously everything has been archived in The IBS Vault, and some of the interviews have already been posted here at Zappa News. But if you want to see anything in particular, drop me a line. The Festival Moo-ah website is also now under the wing of Webador, and has even kept the same URL (unlike this news site).
Added week-ending 28 May 2023:
- Sadly, Gong will not now be playing Zappanale in July, so the Arf Society is looking for a replacement. Favourites are Magma and Hawkwind. But Wishbone Ash will be in Germany around then. Vote for who you'd like to see in my Twitter Poll.
- Watch Dweezil play Van Halen's Eruption on the Kramer Star guitar here. Edward Van Halen gave him the guitar in 1982 and DZ used the guitar, "to record My Mother Is A Space Cadet, and it was also the guitar I used when I first played onstage with my dad at the London Hammersmith Odeon."
- New video from Chanan Hanspal, dissecting possibly the funkiest solo George Duke ever played.
- Alex Dahl tells me he's, "uploaded 7 or 8 more pages on Life On The Road covering all of 1974 and into 1975, including new pages on the Bongo Fury Tour and Frank's 60s and 70s classical concerts." Go check it out!
- Pete List was tasked with shooting some stop motion animation for the Bizarre World Of Frank Zappa 'hologram' tour. Check out his work for the Dinah-Moe Humm sequence on his webpage here.
- Congrats to Josh Freese, who now formally sits atop the Foo Fighters' vacant drum stool. Josh was of course the drummer on Dweezil's Confessions album and his first tour (with Ahmet, Thunes and Keneally) in 1991. Other Zappa/Foo Fighters connections: Steve Vai's hands appear in their Studio 666 film, and the band's producer, Greg Kurstin, went to school with Dweezil and plays on his My Mother Is A Space Cadet single (he also co-wrote the b-side).
- Short Q&A with Mike Keneally here, covering his Zappa years and more.
Added week-ending 21 May 2023:
- And now on TheAaronChannel: a Funky Nothingness deep dive, with guest Idiot!
- FZ's catalogue of decades of live performances are coming to nugs.net to stream or download. The Zappa launch has just commenced with all 21 of the Beat The Boots series. The Torture Never Stops video soundtrack is also there - with a lot more to be added soon, apparently. Be here now!
- Here's a blast from the past: Gerry Fialka produced this 1997 concert with Tommy Mars & Suzy Williams at Canter's (where FZ hung out years ago) doing musical magic, including Yo Cats.
- To celebrate the return of Steve Vai to the UK this week, here's my interview with him from 1997!
- Irish fiddler Seán Keane, long time core member of The Chieftains, sadly passed away recently. Seán can be seen in the 'Salad Party' home video and also plays on the tracks recorded by the band at UMRK that gave FZ so much pleasure towards the end of his life.
Added week-ending 14 May 2023:
- The Percussive Arts Society posted this nice blog about the late Ralph Humphrey, with some quotes from Ruth Underwood.
- Zappacast Episode #60: The History And Collected Improvisations Of The Mothers Of Invention, Vol. 2.
- New 'making of' Funky Nothingness video, Part One.
- First gig for 2024 in the Diary - the CBSO to spank some Frank in Brum.
- Don't expect the Banned From Utopia to perform The Illinois Enema Bandit at Zappanale this year. Scott Thunes (on Reddit) says, "Ray White doesn’t wanna do it anymore because he feels that the song takes actual sexual assault far too lightly and he believes the original survivors probably don’t take too kindly to the fact that this song exists at all."
- During lockdown, Orchestra Of The Swan started issuing mixtape albums featuring it's renditions of music ranging from Bowie and Bach to Rameau and Radiohead. It's latest album, Echoes, mixes compositions by Lou Reed, Portishead, Philip Glass, FZ and more. Artistic Director David Le Page says, "Although you can listen to each track in isolation, Echoes is - first and foremost - a complete journey; the way a work ends and another begins is designed to create a frisson, a jolt of recognition or a feeling of surprise and satisfaction." The Zappa piece is Ali N. Askin's arrangement of Peaches En Regalia. Look here for more. David told me, "Next season I’m planning a concert with the title 'Revolutionaries, Renegades and Visionaries' in which I’d like to include a version of The Black Page #1."
- Coming in June: Impromptu Improvisations Volume #1 by ZAPPATiKA, a collection of live solos from over a decade of live shows. Features Ike Willis, Denny Walley, Craig 'Twister' Steward, Jeff Hollie and many more.
Added week-ending 7 May 2023:
- In possibly Ralph Humphrey's last interview, he revealed that UMe will release a 1973 Australian gig to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Over-Nite Sensation. [UPDATE from the Vaultmeister: "Not gonna happen."]
- Some highlights from the Stinkfoot Orchestra's show with Ike Willis last week here.
- Not exactly 'news' (it's been on-the-line for a couple of years and had over 2k views), but it is unlisted and may be new to some of you: it's a vid of the 2016 Prague Proms Orchestra En Regalia concert featuring Ian Underwood, Scott Thunes and sternly accomplished others playing musics by FZ with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. Hit it!
- Steve Vai led a rendition of Hey Joe with 7,967 other guitarists in Wroclaw, Poland on 1 May as part of the town’s annual 'Thanks Jimi' festival. Video here.
- Funky Nothingness is now available to pre-order from Amazon UK here. The Vaultmeister says we'll get two more 'singles' before release, but these need to meet UMe's requirements as regards length - so don't expect any monster jams! I have just created a Spotify playlist of the originals covered on the album here.
- Eddie Jobson has announced the first worldwide release of the U.K. live album Curtain Call later this month.
- Peter Lewis of Moby Grape has issued the track Frank Zappa's Ghost from his upcoming album Imagination. He says it "was one of those songs that came to me in a dream. What I woke up hearing was the hook - the part where I sing 'Franks Zappa's ghost' with the underlying chords. The rest was pretty much crafted. The idea of adding The Rite Of Spring section as a bridge was to bring in an ethereal/contrasting mood to the arrangement, like something Zappa might do."
Added week-ending 30 April 2023:
- Sadly Ralph Humphrey lost his battle with cancer last Sunday. May he rest in peace.
- The AMM All-Stars version of Lumpy Gravy is suddenly available to buy on CD from the Idiot's Web Shop here. To celebrate this, the Idiot has reduced the prices of several other items - check out these Special Offers.
- My interview with FZ's road manager Dick Barber, which we started last summer, is finally ready for your mince pies. Get down on it here.
- Hopefully y'all tuned in to the FZ Great Lives episode on BBC Radio 4 (it's now up on BBC Sounds if not). Well, here's Deb Grant's Big Issue article mentioned therein.
- Here Chanan Hanspal shows us how to play Steve Vai's impossible guitar parts in Moggio. Piece of piss!
- I was saddened to learn of the passing of Roland St. Germain, who was the musical director for the Austin Grandmothers and producer of Dreams On Long Play, the only album by that incarnation of the group. He was with the Grannies "until a couple of sudden involuntary personnel changes before the tour for that album turned what was a magical group into a supreme miscarriage of music. The only choice I could make was to walk away from that intergalactic slop." I hope he now rests in peace.
Added week-ending 23 April 2023:
- The next FZ release from UMe will be Funky Nothingness, which features a cover of Hank Ballard's Work With Me Annie/Annie Had A Baby sung by Sugarcane Harris. Release date 30 June 2023. Full details here. An Idiot notes: the "bluesy, stripped-down" title track is believed to be an alternate name for Motorhead's Boogie, which was originally slated to appear on Chunga's Revenge; Vincent and Tommy are of course Frank and Dunbar's middle names.
- The Zappa Early Renaissance Orchestra - comprising John Parkinson, Sam Ward, Fred Händl, Niclas Lychou, and (of course) Kevin Crosby - will be playing the Zappanacht in Heubach, Germany on 14 October.
- Through correspondence with Art Tripp I learned that Ralph Humphrey was unwell last year (Art had tried to arrange an interview with Ralph for me). But when he appeared with his ToNight Only...Band at the Baked Potato last October, I assumed he was on the mend. Sadly, that has proven not to be the case as he has just announced that he is entering hospice care. He posted on Facebook, "What I can say about impending death is that it can be done with grace, gratitude, joy, and acceptance. Giving up teaching and playing has been one of the hardest, however. Thank you to all for giving me the pleasure of experiencing music with you. Music is a gift and I have had so many of those gifts." My thoughts go out to him and his loved ones. So glad I got to see him in action at Zappanale in 2013: tremendous drummer.
- The Aaron Channel on YouTube takes a deep dive into the Broadway The Hard Way album - Chapter One. Honestly, someone should write a book about that tour!
- AMM All-Star Ben Watson has splashed out and gotten the band's rendition of Lumpy Gravy professionally pressed up on compact disc. Get yerselves moist by checking out their performance at Zappanale here. Then watch Ben's unboxing video here.
Added week-ending 16 April 2023:
- The subject of the next few ZappaCasts is the unreleased (and likely to remain that way) History And Collected Improvisations Of The Mothers Of Invention - which, in Gail Zappa's words, Frank "thoroughly dissected and resectioned...resequenced and recollected into other existing releases." Here’s the first one, in which the unreleased track Shirley-Ann is mentioned; here's a short article I put together about the lady in question.
- A revised paperback, plus first edition hardback, of Jimmy Carl Black's memoir, For Mother's Sake, are now available from Amazon. There is also an e-Book version up for grabs at Smashwords.
- Arthur Barrow has posted new music to Bandcamp: "This track is inspired by music that Frank Zappa started writing in early 1979. He called it Saddle Bags but never finished it, so it is not in his catalogue. A couple of bits of it ended up in other songs, but that's it. I had always thought the ideas he came up with were very cool, and that it would be a shame to see them go to waste. So I borrowed some of his ideas about texture, and inverted or otherwise changed the melodic parts to create Subtle Bugs. Hope you like it!" Composed, performed, produced, and mixed by Arthur. Mastered by Bob Rice.
- Universal Music has just issued its first monthly Zappa newsletter: a “one-stop shop for all the latest happenings in the Zappaverse,” it says. Check it out here. Go to Zappa.com to subscribe to future email updates.
Added week-ending 9 April 2023:
- Kudos to those who got more than the contestant's 8 correct answers on Monday's Mastermind. For the record, I got 11 out of 12, having tripped up on the first question. Watch it here. Not sure what's happening at the Beeb, but FZ will next be the subject of Radio 4's Great Lives on 25 April (presented by Zappa fan/comedian, John Robins). And I understand he will be Radio 3's Composer Of The Week before too much longer.
- Henry Kaiser has once again paid tribute to FZ and Captain Beefheart (the latter with help from Drumbo) - check this out.
- Mike Keneally & Beer For Dolphins' Live at Mama Kin is suddenly available on Bandcamp. Previously only physically obtainable as part of the super deluxe edition of Sluggo!, the album features covers of Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song and FZ's Inca Roads, as well as a bunch of great originals.
Added week-ending 2 April 2023:
- FZ is one of the specialist subjects on this coming Monday’s Mastermind semi-final on BBC2.
- The ‘iconic photographic images of Robert Davidson’ are now on display at the Kommüne coffee shop in Totnes – including, of course, his Zappa on the crapper snaps (three in lenticular form). Robert’s I Shot Frank Zappa book is now available in soft and hardback.
- More Mudd Club footage – this time it's, er, Mudd Club.
- Watch Eric Clapton talk about FZ here (about 35 minutes in).
- Lorra new dates in the new Diary.
Added week-ending 26 March 2023:
- J Warner: “Here’s the first of two promo videos I recently cut for the new Frank Zappa Mudd Club/Munich release!”
- SPB Publishing has just published The Mother People Anthology, Volume 1 – which is the first 13 issues of Rob Cerreta's ‘Mother People’ fanzine (which ran from 1981 to 1989) in book form. “It's a time capsule, custom-made for anyone who wonders what it was like to be a Frank Zappa fan in the 1980s.”
- Interesting interview here with Timothy Carey’s son, Romeo, on how his father discovered FZ. Towards the end, he talks about the recordings he has of Frank scoring The World's Greatest Sinner; hope he can get together with Ahmet to discuss this some more
- Al 'Butzis' Malkin will perform a stand-up routine this coming Sunday before a 40th anniversary screening of Rodney Dangerfield’s 1983 film Easy Money at the St George Theatre, Staten Island, NY. Details.
- Mark Volman is following in his partner Howard Kaylan’s footsteps with a biography of his own – Happy Forever: My Musical Adventures With The Turtles, Frank Zappa, T. Rex, Flo & Eddie, And More. Co-authored by John Cody, who “interviewed over a hundred of Mark’s friends, lovers, family and more, and covered a whole lot of ground. This is not a typical biography at all. The story is told via those voices, with Mark offering comments along the way.” The book will be published by Jawbone Press in June. Read about it here. And in the meantime, why not re-read my interview with Flo here.