Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Successor to Frankly Zappa?

I've been asked to host the Friday night Zappa show on KHUM, and have agreed to give it a shot.

Since age 15 or so (I'm 53 now), Frank's music has always been playing somewhere in the back of my mind (along with the Beatles). So much so that I hardly need to play it any more in order to enjoy it – the stuff is basically tattooed on my brainpan. But when I do flop an FZ disc on, it never fails to get me singing along and playing the drum parts on my desk.

I'm not the most fanatical Frank fan, nor am I a completist about collecting his stuff. The music itself is what warms my heart. But I do have some FZ effluvium, a few stories and maybe some insights on the Frank Zappa problem.

With Frank's music and history, there's so much to talk about, so I'm attempting to approach this project in something resembling a systematic fashion. This blog will be part of that, serving as a companion to the radio show - a forum and sort of concordance. There are lots of possibilities for theme shows and guests, so who knows where this will go?

I'm fortunate to live in an area which, though remote, sports a fairly high statistical density of Frank fans. And I'm immensely thankful to KHUM for asking me to do this. Immense thanks, KHUM! Best of luck to Digital Dan as well.

My hope is that I can connect with the Zappa-appreciating community locally and beyond, and, keeping Frank's music as the focal point, have a lot of fun.

I'll probably yield to the compulsion to discuss non-Frank related matters here as well, due to conceptual continuity and fractional divisions thereof.

Hey, for starters, who knows what "Zappa's Grubby Chamber" is, besides the tentative title to the radio show? It's a fairly obscure piece of Frank minutae, but I'm sure I'm not the only fan to know about it...

15 comments:

Derchoadus said...

It's mentioned in Miles' book "Zappa, A Visual Documentary" as a sign
in FZ's basement.

See, I can google alt.fan.frank-zappa also.

Hehe.

Kevin L. Hoover said...

Right you are, Derchoadus, and I ordered that book the other day. Should get it today.

But here's the real question: What are the origins of that sign?

I think I know, but I wonder if anyone else has heard the story.

chu said...

Are you going to play Cheepnis? hehe

chu said...

You're killing me! I'm fairly familiar with much Zappa lore, but this one stumps me. I've looked through all my Z-books. And the only one I don't have is Negative Poodle Dialects. Maybe it's in there?

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Kevin L. Hoover said...

Frank told the story one time, but I can't remember where. I'm sure that someone out in the Zappashere must know it, and maybe even some details I don't.

I'll be announcing a slightly cool prize - nothing too amazing, but worth the effort - for whoever comes up with the explanation.

Somebody knows.

Michael said...

Kevin,

So-called real life intervened in my intention to listen to your inaugural Zappa show on KHUM. Are you going to publish a playlist in this blog?

I, like you, have been listening to Frank since I was 15 (inversively, Absolutly Free, then Freak Out), and his music is with me always. I am so glad you are doing the show and this blog. You may also have observed, that you can’t share your love with very many people (in fact, in my experience, with hardly anyone), so it will be good to read what other locals think of zorching, fast and bulbous.

Here are some Zappa categories that I’ve been thinking of that could be the basis of some theme shows – some are kind of obvious, but…:
1. Instrumental vs w/ vocals;
2. Orchestral vs rock combo vs jazz/eclectic combo vs electronic;
3. Live vs studio vs hybrid;
4. Vocals by Frank vs other lead vocals vs ensemble vocals;
5. Cuts featuring Frank guitar solos vs sit-in soloists;
6. Straight-up comedy lyrics vs ironic/sarcastic send-up lyrics vs lyrics with various “serious” intent;
7. Covers of Zappa tunes vs Zappa covers of other’s work
8. Collaborations
There are lots of others and I suspect you’ve thought of them all, and of course there’s always breaking it down by eras: W/ the original Mothers, w/ Flo & Eddy, etc. I particularly love everything he did with Aynsley Dunbar.
Gotta go. More later, but I must ask the story behind where and how you got that great picture with Frank that was in the Eye.
Keep up the good work.

Michael Bickford, Arcata

Michael said...

KH,

An addendum: checking the dates, I guess I didn't miss your first show. I look forward to hearing it next Friday.

Bick

Kevin L. Hoover said...

Michael,

Those are grand ideas. Thanks for your input.

Well, this is the big week. Better get my own dang ideas together and psych up for the big show...

New blog post soon.

chu said...

Great! Thanks, Kevin. I live in the Midwest, so I caught the show from the website. I missed the first few minutes but came in during SUNPYG, was it "Beat It With Your Fists"? Then you played my favorite from Drowning Witch, I Come From Nowhere (Roy Estrada is freakin' hilarious). 200 Years Old…I forgot how great Frank’s guitar work is on that one, although just recently I made a recording that included Bongo’s Carolina H.C. The old days…I love Frank’s guitar work. Oh well. I could go on and on. My co-workers don’t understand how it is that I can talk for hours about Frank. Anyway, thanks again. I used to play some FZ on college radio some years ago, so I have my own personal mixes just for the sake of radio. Best wishes to you and your show. You have a great feel for it.

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M-Chu said...

Okay. Finally got my log-in page to come up in ENGLISH, which I'm more familiar with than Chinese. I haven't a clue as to what that was about. Kevin, I hope you have time to edit your Blog and delete the redundancy. I apologize.

Several years ago, on occasion I was asked to fill-in at a college radio station here. I LOVE Frank, so all I played was Frank and more Frank. I only sat-in 2 or 3 times a year, so I never had a chance to get real comfortable. But I did have some great moments.
I don't need to make any suggestions for your show. Your formula is a little different than what I did, and it sounds great.

As far as next week, there are too many great Zappa guitar solos to choose from. Aside from the Guitar series, there are many rippin’ solos from Frank. I get goose bumps and howl at the moon every time I hear the solo from Pick Me I’m Clean.

I have said this for years. You don’t need to be a guitar player to appreciate Frank’s playing, but it does help. If you’re an electric guitar fan and have studied playing for any amount of time, and then you see Frank up-close soloing, suddenly everything makes sense. Technique, attitude, ambition; it’s all there. Manglin’ strangling!! The pick keeps going in an upward motion. He even sweep picks in upward strokes. Frank to this day and everyday still blows my mind. But he was also much, much more than just a great guitar player.

Kevin, one time I played the same Lennon/Yoko bit you did, from Playground Psychotics. In the very end while Yoko is doing the Japanese visceral meditation whatever, you can hear people in the front row shouting something at her. I then mixed in Zappa from ‘The Little house I Used To Live In.’ Zappa says, “Stop. You’ll hurt your throat!” At that moment I had been vindicated. Good stuff. I have more good stories, but I’ll spare you.

Frank everyday for good mental health.

Best wishes.

M-Chu said...

Again, another cryptic posting authored by myself. What I was trying to convey was that I layered Frank over Yoko so it sounded like Frank was telling YOKO "Stop. You'll hurt your throat". The way I worded it seemed as though Frank was telling the audience to stop.

Thanks for the Vinnie link, Kevin. It's a great read. Many times I had heard and read Frank's mentioning that Vinnie was his favorite drummer. The Vinnie interview explains it all.