Monday, January 28, 2008

Then and Now – January 31, 2008

Residing in my happy rut of '70s/'80s Zappa music for so long before I started doing the show, I hadn't realized the intensity with which a substantial portion of the FZ community beholds Early Frank. So many of the requests are for '60s-era tunes, or what I think of as Frank's first drafts.

You know I love the versioning... You seem not to mind, either. Hey, as long as it's Frank music, what could go wrong?

So, for the Feb. 1, 2008 Zappa's Grubby Chamber, let's try playing the early versions of various songs, and then the later iterations. So many to choose from... "Ain't Got No Heart," "Brown Shoes," "Cruising for Burgers," "King Kong..."

And whatever you think up!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Essential Frank – January 25, 2008

Running late this week, so without any real time to prepare, this week's show concept is... Essential Frank.

What's the single most definitive Zappa song? "Peaches?" "Valley Girl?" "Orrin Hatch On Skis?"

Well, that's just it – there isn't any one tune that really defines the Zappa experience. Even in two hours, I doubt that we could get Frank's core repertoire covered.

But we can try! I have my "ideas," but what are yours? Call 'em in, or e-mail the studio during the show as we set the controls for the crux of the biscuit!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Definitely A Case Of Moo-Aah (Updated) – January 18, 2008

Fucked up.

There's no other way to describe the state of the relationship 'twixt the Zappa Family Trust and the peeps right now. It's really depressing.

I say we need an immediate transfusion of Frank energy – and fast!

That's why this week's Zappa's Grubby Chamber will continue the blasphemous tirade undertaken last week, wherein we deploy yet more budget homage to Frank in the form of tunes off Where's My Waitress?, a brilliant disc created by our South Dakota correspondent and new best friend, Russ Stedman. (He was on the show last week. The subject of Suzy Quatro came up briefly.)

I doubt that I'll be able to resist playing the only non-cover tune on WMW?, a cayenne-flavored confection called "Frank," by the Rudy Schwartz Project. That thing rivals Godley & Creme's "Sandwiches of You" or Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "Bullfrog" as an in-your-face paean (where'd you get that word?) to FZ's genius.

The Jan. 11 show was based on the concept that there's nothing better on the face of God's Great Earth than that Prince of Musics, bedroom tapes by the sequestered geniuses of our land. Well, them and Frank. And so will this show be too. Fact of the matter – it's made for you.

So strap in for another bout of merciless versioning, with the WMW? tracks interspersed (where'd you get that word?) with the official FZ versions. I may even be able to wrangle another phone interview with one of the participating musicians.

Update: The amazing Kevyn Dymond will be a telephone guest around 10:30 p.m. Pacific. he contributed some songs to WMW?, and we'll talk about them and play them and like them. and him.

As rough as things are in Zappaland at the moment, there's still the fact that a lot of people are spending their own teenage money and time not just to purchase, enjoy and write about Zappa music, but they're even making it on their own. And some nitwit in way Northern California is playing it on the radio.

So how bad is it, really? Moo-aah!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Where's My Waitress? – January 11, 2008

So, I got on the elevator at Jacoby's Storehouse yesterday only to encounter former Barking Dogma guitarist Kevyn Dymond. I drummed once for BD when they opened for BFD – that's Mike Keneally's Beer For Dolphins – at the old Jambalaya Club.

Kevyn handed me a CD titled Where's My Waitress?, above. It's a disc jam-packed with versions of FZ songs prepared by home tapers. These appear to be rugged-individualist/misfit-types who like to do solo musical projects in their smelly little secret black light bedrooms on Long Island.

And elsewhere. These songs look like they've been done by guys all over the country. Kevyn has a few on there, as does an interesting guy named Russ Stedman. Russ appears to have manufactured the compilation, so I e-mailed him and asked if I could play WMW? on the show, and he said "Go for it."

Note that this whole thing is quasi-legal at best... actually it's just done for the love of Frank music, which may or may not go unpunished. Says the liner notes, "All of the music in this collection was written by Frank Zappa [with one exception] and is no doubt controlled for all the world and space by the Zappa Family Trust..."

The exception is "Frank," by Joe Newman, which is quite charming. I'll start out the Jan. 11, 2008 show with that, then we'll proceed to a heavy-duty session of versioning, wherein I play the Frank version of the song and then the equivalent WMW? rendition.

I had actually planned to drill through a bunch of new (to me) material donated to the show by another listener, our friend and Brother In Frank, Matt Walden (Matt Chu to you). But there's so dang much of it, I think I need another week to assimilate.

So, it's Where's My Waitress? and beyond, for the Jan. 11, 2008 Zappa's Grubby Chamber. Phone in your comments to (707) 786-5486, or

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Bluster & Bombast – January 3, 2008

The above portrait is by my friend Rick Dula, who I haven't spoken with in 20 years at least. I don't know that the drawing captures Frank's essence, but Rick really was a good artist. Probably still is.

The eyes are a little too pretty, and kind of remind me of a Keane painting. (I guess that's the ultimate insult for a serious artist. Sorry, Rick.) My first grade teacher used to drum it into us, "Don't bear down on the pencil." Ahem, Mr. Dula? In fairness, I think the drawing has become smeared over the ages as well, as Rick was anything but heavy-handed.

But Frank could be! Oh yes, when it comes to raging rock, Zappa music holds up with the most bombastic blustering brobdingnagian blasts ever recorded.

There's "Them Or Us," "Rat Tomago," "Easy Meat" and lots of stuff off of the various Guitar albums that we at Zappa's Grubby Chamber would be pleased as punch to club you over the head with, for your listening pleasure.

There's another reason why playing bombastic Frank tunes is The Right Thing To Do. As I write this Friday morning, there's a big storm a-comin' in – three, actually – and we're supposed to give weather updates throughout our shows. So, commensurate with the bluster inside, it'll take some smashing Zappa music to be heard above the din.

Bombast and bluster, on this week's ZGC.