Wednesday, September 30, 2015
"Welcome" performed by Santana
"September Song" performed by Jeff Lynne
"Blow Away" performed by George Harrison
"Lines On My Face" performed by Peter Frampton
"My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion" performed by The Flaming Lips
"Teacher, Teacher' performed by Rockpile
"Charlie Brown" performed by The Coasters
"Back To School Days performed by Graham Parker
"Education" performed by Pearl Jam
"Homework" performed by Otis Rush
"New Kid In School" performed by The Donnas
"School Days" performed by The Runaways
"The Teacher" performed by Big Country
"When I Kissed The Teacher" performed by ABBA
"We're Going To Be Friends" performed by The White Stripes
"The Kids Are Alright" performed by The Who
September 2, 2015
"Nangs" performed by Tame Impala-WSPC PREMIERE
"Tangram (Set 1)" performed by Tangerine Dream
"My Sweet Lord" (live from the 2002 Concert For George) performed by Billy Preston
"Funeral For A Friend/Tonight" (live in Russia 1979) performed by Elton John with Ray Cooper
"Brother" performed by The Kinks
"You Satellite" performed by Wilco-WSPC PREMIERE
"New Test Leper" performed by R.E.M.
September 3, 2015
"Double Vision" performed by Foreigner
"Need You Tonight/Mediate" performed by INXS
"Blue Sky Mine (Food On The Table Mix)" performed by Midnight Oil
"Heaven's Falling" performed by Cheap Trick
"Caravan" performed by Utopia
September 4, 2015
"Stranglehold" performed by Paul McCartney
"Reelin' In The Years" performed by Steely Dan
"Donna Summer" performed by Prefab Sprout
"Me And Bobby D" (acoustic version) performed by Everything But The Girl
"Quando, Quando, Quando" performed by Engelbert Humperdinck
"Stay In My Corner" performed by The Arcs-WSPC PREMIERE
"Fear" performed by Lenny Kravitz
"The Magnificent 7" performed by Kamasi Washington-WSPC PREMIERE
"Robes" (instrumental version) performed by Madlib
"Brutal" performed by New Order
September 5, 2015
"Saturday's Child" performed by The Monkees
"Damn, Sam (I Love A Woman That Rains)" performed by Ryan Adams
"Year Of The Cat" performed by Al Stewart
"You Take My Breath Away" performed by Queen
"All Roads Leads To Inca" performed by Dweezil Zappa
"Viscara Eyes" performed by The Mars Volta
"Tonight" performed by Nick Lowe
"Too Good To Be Strange" performed by Andrea Parker
"Touch And Go" performed by The Cars
"Do You Really Want Me" performed by Salt-N-Pepa
"Disappear" performed by INXS
September 6, 2015
"Jesus Was A Crossmaker" performed by The Hollies
"Show Me" performed by The Pretenders
"Suddenly Last Summer" performed by The Motels
"My Baby's Gone" performed by Los Lobos
"In Exile (For Rodrigo Rojas)" performed by The Dream Academy
"Jamie's Cryin'" performed by Van Halen
"Another Life" performed by Utopia
"Florentine Pogen" performed by Frank Zappa
"Two Daze Gone (live 11-20-81 Santa Monica Civic Auditorium) performed by Billy Squier
"Wind Thing" performed by Tone Loc
"Dross" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins
"Burning Bridges For Fuel" performed by Nina Persson
"When You're Gone" (live) performed by Dolores O'Riordian
"Why Didn't You Call Me" performed by Macy Gray
"What God Wants Part 1" performed by Roger Waters
September 7, 2015
"American Worker" performed by The Bus Boys
"Bright Future In Sales" performed by Fountains Of Wayne
"Career Opportunities" performed by The Clash
"16 Tons" performed by Tennessee Ernie Ford
"Working In A Coal Mine" performed by Lee Dorsey
"Work To Do" performed by The Isley Brothers
"Cleaning Windows" performed by Van Morrison
"The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)" performed by Harry Belafonte
"Workin' For A Livin'" performed by Huey Lewis and the News
"Momma Miss America" performed by Paul McCartney
"The Loner" performed by Neil Young
"September Song" performed by Lindsey Buckingham
"Mina Loy (M.O.H.)" performed by Billy Corgan
"I Want More" performed by Dave Wakeling
September 8, 2015
"Fever Dog" performed by Stillwater
"The Phone Call" performed by Pretenders
"Hawkmoon 269" performed by U2
"Cry Baby Cry" performed by The Beatles
"My Friend" performed by Jimi Hendrix
September 9, 2015
"Don't Answer Me" performed by The Alan Parsons Project
"Goodbye Stranger" performed by Supertramp
"Couldn't Get It Right" performed by Climax Blues Band
"So Into You" performed by Atlanta Rhythm Section
"Clockwork Creep" performed by 10cc
"I'm Mandy Fly Me" performed by 10cc
September 10, 2015
"Left Of Center" performed by Suzanne Vega with Joe Jackson
"Sara" performed by Fleetwood Mac
"Amity Gardens" performed by Fountains Of Wayne
"Grinder" performed by Gary Clark Jr.-WSPC PREMIERE
"I Get The Job Done" performed by Big Daddy Kane
September 11, 2015
"Too Much Information" performed by The Police
"Uniforms (Corps d'Espirit)" performed by Pete Townshend
"Every Little Thing" performed by Yes
"An Open Letter To N.Y.C." performed by Beastie Boys
September 12, 2015
"Is There A Ghost In My House" performed by Band Of Horses
"Meaningless" perforemd by Jon Brion
"Stop Your Sobbin'" performed by The Kinks
"It Is Time" performed by World Party
"Backfield In Motion" performed by Mel & Tim
HAPPY 35TH ANNIVERSARY TO XTC's "BLACK SEA"
"Generals And Majors"
"Sgt. Rock (Is Going To Help Me)"
"Towers Of London"
"Capable Of Anything" performed by Ben Folds-WSPC PREMIERE
"All Is Full Of Love" performed by Bjork
"How To Disappear Completely" performed by Radiohead
"Babooshka" performed by Kate Bush
"Lucky And Unhappy" performed by Air
"Star" performed by Gary Clark Jr.-WSPC PREMIERE
"Da Booty" performed by A Tribe Called Quest
"Don't Say Goodnight" performed by The Isley Brothers
"I Stand Accused" performed by Isaac Hayes
September 13, 2015
"Close To The Edge" performed by Yes
"Comeback Kid" performed by Sleigh Bells
"Women" performed by Def Leppard
"Sweet Merilee" performed by Donnie Iris
"Afraid Of Love" performed by Toto
"U Mass" performed by Pixies
September 14, 2015
"Put Out The Fire" performed by Queen
"Little Red Lights" performed by Todd Rundgren
"The Sign Of Fire" (live) performed by The Fixx
"Fascination" performed by David Bowie
"Waiting For The Worm To Turn" performed by Bourgeois Tagg
"Keep On Loving You" performed by R.E.O. Speedwagon
September 15, 2015
"Look Sharp!" performed by Joe Jackson
"Picture This" performed by Blondie
"Photobooth" performed by Death Cab For Cutie
"Photo Jenny" performed by Belle And Sebastian
"Picture Book" performed by The Kinks
"Pictures Of You" performed by The Cure
"Telephoto Lens" performed by The Bongos
"Photograph" performed by Weezer
"Shine On You Crazy Diamond" performed by Pink Floyd
September 16, 2015
"Hello Rain" performed by The Softies
"Man On The Corner" performed by Genesis
"Hounds Of Love" performed by Kate Bush
"Plastic" performed by New Order-WSPC PREMIERE
"Acrobat" performed by U2
September 18, 2015
"Lightnin' Strikes" performed by Lou Christie
"Bad Blood" performed by Ryan Adams-WSPC PREMIERE
"No Guilt" (live) performed by The Waitresses
"Treason (It's Just A Story)" performed by The Teardrop Explodes
"Lightning Strikes" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins
"He'll Have To Go" performed by Prefab Sprout
"Close But No Cigar" performed by Thomas Dolby
"Stem/Long Stem/Transmission 2" performed by DJ Shadow
"Beach Scene" performed by Tangerine Dream
"1983...A Merman I Should Turn To Be" (demo version) performed by Jimi Hendrix
September 19, 2015
"Midnight Blue" performed by Melissa Manchester
"Emotion" performed by Samantha Sang
"For Your Eyes Only" performed by Sheena Easton
"See You When I Get There" performed by Lou Rawls
"Today" performed by David Gilmour-WSPC PREMIERE
"I Believe In You" performed by Neil Young
"Nature's Child" performed by The Arcs-WSPC PREMIERE
"3 Legs" performed by Paul and Linda McCartney
"Leaving New York" performed by R.E.M.
"Essential Mix BBC Radio 1 4/2015" performed by Frankie Knuckles (full 2 hour set)
September 20, 2015
"Juan Pachanga" performed by Ruben Blades
"Bring On The Night" (live 1979) performed by The Police
"Digital Man" performed by Rush
"Love Over Gold" performed by Dire Straits
"English Roundabout" performed by XTC
September 21, 2015
"Outta My Mind" performed by The Arcs-WSPC PREMIERE
"All You Had to Do Was Stay" performed by Ryan Adams-WSPC PREMIERE
"Hitch A Ride" performed by Boston
"Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing" performed by Stevie Wonder
"Vega (Stripes On)" performed by Van Hunt-WSPC PREMIERE
"Even The Losers" performed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
"Loser" performed by Grateful Dead
"Let Down" performed by Radiohead
"Poor Poor Pitiful Me" performed by Warren Zevon
"Lonesome Loser" performed by Little River Band
September 22, 2015
"Summer's End" performed by Foo Fighters
"The Last Day Of Summer" performed by The Cure
"That Summer Feeling" performed by Jonathan Richman
"A Summer Song" performed by Chad & Jeremy
"Last Day Of Summer" performed by Kirsty MacColl
September 23, 2015
"Rosalita" (live at Hammersmith Odeon 1975) performed by Bruce Springsteen and the E. Street Band
"Back For More" performed by Ratt
"Night Flight" performed by Led Zeppelin
"Beautiful Loser" (live) performed by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
"The Other Way Of Stopping" performed by The Police
September 24, 2015
"When I Was A Boy" performed by Electric Light Orchestra-WSPC PREMIERE
"Excursions" performed by A Tribe Called Quest
"It's That Talk Again" performed by Broken Bells-WSPC PREMIERE
"Andy" performed by Frank Zappa
"Burning With Optimism's Flames" performed by XTC
"Can't Stop" performed b Red Hot Chili Peppers
September 25, 2015
"Jeff's Greensleeves" performed by Jeff Beck
"Stormy Monday Blues" (live BBC) performed by Jethro Tull
"Oh Well" performed by Fleetwood Mac
"The Memo" performed by Father John Misty-WSPC PREMIERE
FEATURED ARTIST: FRANK ZAPPA
"Can't Afford No Shoes"
"Son Of Suzy Creamcheese"
"The Grand Wazoo"
September 27, 2015
"Monk's Mood" performed by Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane
"Autumn Leaves" performed by Keith Jarrett
"Where Or Wayne" performed by Jack DeJohnette's New Directions
"Ishango Bone" performed by Andy Summers-WSPC PREMIERE
"I'm Old Fashioned" performed by Ron Carter, Hank Jones, Sadao Watanabe and Tony Williams
"Yellow Moon" performed by The Neville Brothers
"Orange Moon" performed by Erykah Badu
"The Killing Moon" performed by Echo and the Bunneymen
"Goodnight Moon" performed by Shivaree
"Girl On The Moon" performed by Foreigner
"Moonage Daydream" performed by David Bowie
"Moonlight Drive" performed by The Doors
September 28, 2015
"Church" (live) performed by Gary Clark Jr.-WSPC PREMIERE
"Love/Paranoia" performed by Tame Impala-WSPC PREMIERE
"The Outernationalist" performed by Thievery Corporation
"E=MC2" performed by Big Audio Dynamite
"What Are The Chances" performed by Duran Duran-WSPC PREMIERE
"Lily (My One And Only)" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins
September 29, 2015
"Do You Know, Do You Care?" performed by Phil Collins
"Sky Blue" performed by Peter Gabriel
"The Carpet Crawlers" performed by Genesis
"Number One Lowest Common Denominator" performed by Todd Rundgren
"Can You Hear Me?" performed by Elvis Costello and The Roots
"White Light" performed by Gorillaz
"Tutti Frutti" performed by New Order-WSPC PREMIERE
"Florentine Pogen" (live 2014) performed by Zappa Plays Zappa
September 30, 2015
"September" performed by Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
"Top Of The World" performed by Planet P. Project
"Shoot High, Aim Low" performed by Yes
"Black Crow" (live) performed by Joni Mitchell
"Pavlov's Bell" performed by Aimee Mann
"Looking For Atlantis" performed by Prefab Sprout
"Great Escape" performed by Washed Out
"Franks Kaktus" performed by Dungen-WSPC PREMIERE
"My Drawers" performed by The Time
"Rough Boys" performed by Pete Townshend
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Released August 25, 2015
NEW 2015 MUSIC: Achieved and fully realized through crowd funding (I contributed a taste), Dweezil Zappa has released his very first solo album in 10 years with the warm "Via Zammata'."
Performed with the full and current incarnation of the Zappa Plays Zappa touring band, we certainly are able to hear the connective tissue between Dweezil and the iconic work of his Father, the late Frank Zappa, on tracks like the opening instrumental "Funky 15," "On Fire," "Malkovich" (which does indeed feature the spoken word vocals of a certain inscrutable actor) and of course, the heavy metal shriekfest "Dragon Master," apparently the only song Father and son composed together.
But even so, Dweezil Zappa is his own man and has recorded a collection of songs that mostly are surprisingly earnest musings and meditations on the unpredictable nature of life, (including "Nothing," "Hummin'," "What If," "Jaws Of Life") and all filtered through rich, clean production, Beach Boys harmony vocals as well as Dweezil's inviting lead vocals and his inimitable guitar work.
I am actually not certain if the album is currently available through digital means but the physical release will occur close to Thanksgiving--so, check it out when it officially arrives!!
THE BLACK KEYS
Released April 1, 2008
Released April 29, 2008
Released September 4, 2015
NEW 2015 MUSIC: At first, this debut album from The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach's new side project does not sound too terribly far removed from The Black Keys' most recent albums (especially the ones where they have collaborated with Danger Mouse) but that is not a bad thing whatsoever. Regardless, and after several spins, The Arcs have created one of the most intriguing and engaging albums that I have heard in 2015.
I do have to say that the album is a bit of an odd beast. That is true. Even so, "Yours, Dreamily" feels like one of those truly left of center releases that is highly accessible but keeps you off guard just enough to make you question what could possibly arrive next, after your bearings have been upended over and again.
The album's 14 tracks run the gamut from highly charged rockers like the opening "Outta My Mind," the deep bass psychedelic hip-hop groove of "Put A Flower In Your Pocket," the Jimi Hendrix meets The Delfonics stoned soul ballad of "Stay In My Corner," the clip-clop pseudo Western blues of "Everything You Do (You Do For You)," the grindhouse porn soundtrack of "Come And Go," the seductive lush dream of "Nature's Child" and even more, and all with Auerbach's terrific, soulful vocals and sizzling guitar work binding this musically diverse experience all together.
Released November 4, 1986
THE COLD AND LOVELY
Released January 20, 2015
NEW 2015 MUSIC: After the dark and brooding insular music of the debut album "The Cold And Lovely" (released June 5, 2012) and the expansive Gothic pop of "Ellis Bell" (released September 24, 2013), The Cold and Lovely, the configuration of Meghan Toohey (composer/singer/multi-instrumentlaist) and Nicole Fiorentino (bassist/vocalist), have returned with the 8 tracked "What Will I Become," easily their most propulsive and finest release yet.
Where the music of the first two releases felt to be more introverted, this third effort finds TC&L reaching outwards with songs, power chords, beats, rhythms and melodies meant for the stadiums. The brilliantly bombastic "Compass" sounds and swaggers as if Kate Bush fronted Led Zeppelin. The carnal romanticism and aggressiveness of "Dark Cloud," "Runaway" and "Lost All Control" all sound ready made for the dance club, at least the ones where slam dancing has made a comeback. And the soaring "Hold On To Me" is the best power ballad I've heard in a blue moon. Only the appropriately spooky "The Omen" and the closing euro-robotic dream pop of "Glow" suggest the music of the band's past, therefore expanding their musical vision, and making me anxious for whatever will arrive next time.
Released June 29, 1983
Released October 12, 1979
Released January 19, 1980
GARY CLARK JR.
Released September 11, 2015
NEW 2015 MUSIC: I won't say that Gary Clark Jr. is necessarily holding back on his unquestionable guitar heroics on his latest studio release but just as with his previous effort, the wildly diverse "Blak And Blue" (released October 22, 2012), he is downplaying his guitar fireworks in favor of showcasing his abilities as a songwriter, singer (his impressive falsetto shows up consistently throughout this album) and his serous chops as a multi-instrumentalist as he handles nearly all of the album's instruments himself. Additionally, where the blues remains the musical foundation, you are more likely to hear the influence of hip-hop, classic soul and gospel music in the album's thirteen tracks.
From the emotional, pleading acoustic introspection of "Church," the rousing mission statement of "The Healing," the hip swaying bass guitar driven "Star," the arrival and influence of the ghost of Curtis Mayfield on "Hold On" and "Cold Blooded" and most certainly, the nearly eight minute closing slow jam of "Down To Ride" (which, to my ears, sounds like a sonic sequel to "You Saved Me" from "Blak And Blue"), Gary Clark Jr.'s "The Story Of Sonny Boy Slim" is a slow burn of an album that does not leap out of the speakers. Like some of the finest blues, Clark Jr. takes his sweet time before laying out the sting. And while I do have to give it to Clark Jr. for being somewhat quietly defiant by not giving listeners what we just may be wanting from him, I also feel that there's still a GREAT album in him just waiting to be released and when it happens, we will all be laid out flat.
Released June 25, 1975
Monday, September 28, 2015
SEPTEMBER 25, 2015
DWEEZIL ZAPPA: Guitar, Vocals
RYAN BROWN: Drums, Vocals
SCHEILA GONZALEZ: Vocals, Saxophone, Flute, Keyboards, Percussion
KURT MORGAN: Bass Guitar, Vocals
CHRIS NORTON: Keyboards, Synthesizers, Vocals
BEN THOMAS: Vocals, Guitar, Trombone, Trumpet, Percussion, Harmonica
On February 17, 2014, I experienced the live performance of Guitarist Dweezil Zappa and his exemplary touring ensemble Zappa Plays Zappa for the very first time, as they arrived in my city for their then latest stop on their tour, which celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the album "Roxy And Elsewhere" (released September 10, 1974) as originally composed, arranged, produced and performed by Dweezil's Father, the iconic and individualistic Frank Zappa.
Over the course of two sets and three hours, the band delivered a phenomenal performance (easily one of the finest that I have ever seen), expertly re-creating the inimitable musical wonderland of Frank Zappa with a jaw dropping ability and dexterity, that often left me laughing out loud to myself as I simply could not believe that these six people on stage were even able to play music so complicated, so demanding, so gleefully unfiltered and defiantly rebellious to the boundaries that exist between all musical genres with sheer flawlessness and seemingly with effortless ease.
What made this performance especially impressive is that on this day of the show, the Midwest received what had been yet another ferocious blast of winter weather, filled with all manner of ice, snow and slush, a blast that found the band's tour bus broken down and in need of repair. Assured by the Barrymore theater that the performance would still be presented as planned, it was an arduous day and night for all, including the fans (like myself) who stood in the frigid cold waiting for the band to arrive, which we witnessed first hand as the bus drove directly past us. And after all of the hardships of the day, it astounded me that Dweezil Zappa and the band provided everything that was promised and then some. From his Master Class for guitar players (for an extra fee), to the lobby "Meet And Greet" after the concert (for free) and the aforementioned two set/three hour performance itself, the Zappa Plays Zappa band completely ingratiated themselves with their fans in ways I felt they seriously would have well been within their rights to truncate, considering the extremity of the circumstances.
But that was then.
After that first concert, I knew without question should Zappa Plays Zappa return to Madison, I would have to attend. Knowing that the band's latest arrival would occur during their current tour celebrating the 40th Anniversary of "One Size Fits All" (released June 25, 1975), and incidentally my number 1 favorite Frank Zappa album, it was a veritable no-brainer that this would be a performance not to be missed. Considering that the weather was not a factor whatsoever, especially as this was a beautiful early autumn evening, I had a feeling that the stars would find themselves in alignment. I just had no idea of how strongly they would be, and for me, they were unprecedented.
Just as I have been wont to do over the last few years, I knew immediately that I wanted to stake out a spot directly at the foot of the stage. Yet, unlike the show I attended last year, this year's event was to be a seated show, so very quickly, I grabbed a seat stage left in the second row, which was a pebble's throw from a mammoth set of speakers.
As I waited for the show to begin, I found myself engaging in a few brief conversations with other audience members about Frank Zappa in general and the album "One Size Fits All" in particular, an album that everyone I spoke with claimed happened to also be their personal favorite release in Zappa's deep and extensive discography. "It just has everything!" said a Dad who sat next to me with his wife and 14 year old son. And to that statement, I would have to agree.
While the album itself runs a hair over 42 minutes, what it ultimately contains is a universe of music that runs the gamut from rock, jazz, fusion, blues, soul, pop, orchestral, comical, interstellar, ribald, vulgar, streetwise, cosmic and everything in between with a joyous dive into the wellspring of inspiration that I like to think depicted Frank Zappa at his most gleeful. As with the entirety of his musical oeuvre, "One Size Fits All" is a fiercely demanding collection of songs, but somehow, they feel so accessible, so open, so bright and shiny, and therefore, so much like the album's title itself, this was possibly Zappa at his most inclusive while also remaining as uncompromising as ever. And now, on this night, we were all about to witness how Dweezil Zappa and his musical co-horts would translate this particular work 40 years after its release into the world, but still so ahead of the curve, that the music again served as what Dweezil Zappa reflected as "music from the future."
The house lights went down, the band entered the stage and the show began--just as the album--with the epic flying saucer odyssey, the iconic "Inca Roads." Within this very first song of the night, it already felt as if something extra special was in the air. To begin, was Dweezil Zappa's first guitar solo of the evening, occurring within the song's mid point and running over three minutes in length, a slow burn that seeks, searches and eventually finds its way into the skies. It is a solo that always feels as if it is about the journey contained in the song as well as a journey within the musician holding the guitar: first Frank and now, Dweezil, who performed with the same Zen-like calmness that I had witnessed a year ago. By the time the solo concluded, signalling to the band to return in full force, complete with heavenly group vocals all reaching skyward, the audience burst into applause. It was happening. Really happening!
And even then, I was wondering to myself, "Can they really do it?" You see, the next section of "Inca Roads" has arguably been considered to be one of Frank Zappa's most complicated compositions with hairpin changes of time signatures and accelerated paces that verge on the Olympian. The moment of truth arrived at the keyboard solo, originated by the late George Duke, and performed on this night by keyboardist Chris Norton. Norton was in my line of sight for the whole evening, as was the monstrous drummer Ryan Brown, and when the solo made its official appearance, I stopped cold. Not only did the band and these two men specifically just nail this unbelievably difficult section of the song, I stared in amazement at Brown, whose face was rock solid stone yet his wrists and drumsticks flew at the speed of light. It was just a level of performance that I had never witnessed in my life. I was seeing it first hand and I still could not believe it.
The remainder of the "One Size Fits All" section of the show only continued at this remarkably high level with every song performed with brilliance and unconscionable dexterity. In a sequence that was essentially a nearly 60 minute highlight, Dweezil Zappa's guitar solos (especially during the monumental extended ending to "Florentine Pogen" which stretched from the album's 5 minute length to nearly 10 minutes) just defied all expectations that I had possibly housed. While it had only been a year since I had seen him perform last, I had this odd sensation that I was witnessing the birth or full arrival of a new level of playing and inspiration, and in turn, the full band followed suit. For a team that already operates at an extremely high level, they had somehow raised their own game. Essentially, the band that I was watching in 2015 had just blown the band from 2014 out of the water and that band was sensational.
By the time the humorously yet majestically symphonic and German inflected "Sofa #2" concluded and the band exited the stage for a brief 15 minute intermission, the audience was entirely and justifiably gobsmacked. It hadn't been just me who felt whatever was in the room that night. People were lifted off of the ground due to the performance we had all just witnessed and shared and I just wished that the band members could have been privy to the conversations occurring within the audience as they took their well deserved break. If there is one word that I could use to describe the feeling that permeated the room at that point it would be "astonished."
And there was even still more...much more to come.
Before I go any further, I feel the need to provide some sense of set-up in order to convey the remainder of the experience I had at this year's Zappa Plays Zappa concert. I turn to the motion picture "The Soloist" (2010) from Director Joe Wright and the brief yet stunning abstract sequence that not only perfectly describes what I experience when I listen to music but also gave this blogsite its name.
It is a scene in which Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez (played by Robert Downey Jr.) takes the homeless Nathaniel Ayers (played by Jamie Foxx), a cello prodigy/Beethoven enthusiast now suffering from schizophrenia, to the Walt Disney Concert Hall to hear a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 3. What occurs for Ayers once the music begins is his blissful, all encompassing experience with synesthesia, which builds and rises to a crescendo along with the music itself and concluding at its most orgiastic height with a transfixed and transformed Ayers exclaiming to himself, "Beethoven is here!"
I mention this film, and that sequence in particular, because once the band returned to the stage and began what was essentially a two hour time warp marathon through Frank Zappa's discography, from the likes of "Son Of Suzy Creamcheese," "Outside Now," "Zomby Woof," "Dancin' Fool" and others, the quality and intensity of the performances made an impression upon me, the likes of which I have never experienced at a concert before and at such a fever pitch. This is very difficult to describe, but while I had felt certain twinges during the "One Size Fits All" section of the show, it was during portions of "The Grand Wazoo," and especially the unbelievable instrumental "Sinister Footwear" and an extraordinary "Montana" where I felt that Dweezil Zappa as a guitarist, as well as the entire band itself, had somehow tapped into something purely ephemeral, again raising their own game and therefore, creating a musical experience that was feeling transformative.
I am not able to stress enough (although I sincerely hope that the weight of my words will make it clear) what an achievement Dweezil Zappa has accomplished for himself with the Zappa Plays Zappa band. This is no mere "cover band," so to speak. Zappa Plays Zappa is a travelling orchestra, albeit one with six people, who are somehow able to take the works of this most fearlessly idiosyncratic composer and translate the works as written, and therefore, originated by a host of seasoned musicians, and have somehow claimed the works for themselves in the process. On this night, these six individuals stood on the shoulders of giants and became giants themselves.
While she was not presented as much of a focal point as she was in 2014, Zappa Plays Zappa co-founder/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Scheila Gonzalez remained an essential force throughout the entire show, from her pristine vocals to her dynamic saxophone solo during "The Grand Wazoo" which led to rapturous applause.
Keyboardist Chris Norton and Drummer Ryan Brown, after their tour de force during "Inca Roads," only gained in power throughout the evening. Brown, in particular, delivered a performance of staggering complexity and the physical agility of a champion athlete, thus throwing him directly to the head of the drumming class. The Smashing Pumpkins' mighty Jimmy Chamberlin needs to begin looking over his shoulders and if Rush's Neil Peart feels like laying down his sticks and passing the baton, then look no further than Ryan Brown.
Ben Thomas, without question, was the night's MVP!! He was flat out astounding to behold as a singer as he somehow replicated the classic vocals as sung by the likes of George Duke, Napoleon Murphy Brock, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Ike Willis and Frank Zappa himself while simultaneously making every line his own. And then, he somehow found the ability to play trombone, trumpet, rhythm guitar, percussion, harmonica and he even beatboxed as well! Emerging as almost a completely different performer than he was just one year ago, Thomas owned the evening through his triumphant, multi-faceted display of his vocal and instrumental prowess, taking songs he performed just last year (like "Cosmik Debris") and making them even stronger showcases.
All of these performers and performances contributed to a certain alchemy that was inexplicable to me. At some point (most likely during the spectacular "Sinister Footwear"), I found myself ceasing to bob my head and body along with the music and I just sat, feeling my heart rate somehow slow and quicken and my mouth was permanently agape. I was in a state of awe. As with some people who find themselves in tears during operas or orchestral performances, I was shocked to find my eyes watering during one of Dweezil Zappa's solos--a sensation that has NEVER happened with me during a concert.
When the band launched into the volcanic instrumental "Apostrophe'" I spontaneously leapt to my feet, something else that I have NEVER done at concert. Coming back to myself, I sat back down and was enraptured by the musical molten lava flowing from the stage, my own synesthesia in wondrous overdrive. Bassist Kurt Morgan was so fluid and thunderous, Dweezil Zappa, so lyrical and rampaging that the original recorded track featuring Frank Zappa and the late, great bassist Jack Bruce felt to be nearly eclipsed. I don't mean to sound overly hyperbolic or even metaphysical, but it was indeed at this point where it truly felt to me that there was just...something else in the room. Something the band had tapped into. Something extremely powerful.
To me, Frank Zappa was here!
All of these emotions now bring me to Dweezil Zappa himself, who held the stage, directed the band and performed one astonishing solo after another and another with nothing more than a small smile and a bemused serenity that seemed to illustrate how intrinsically connected he was to the music and therefore, to his Father's legacy. The breadth, depth and scope of his playing was just this close to being indescribable but I can say that I have NEVER, EVER seen this man play guitar like how I saw him play on this night. Whatever journey he may have been on personally when he decided to begin this project years ago felt as if he had exceeded any goals he had set for himself due to the heights he scaled.
Once the band made their final curtain call and announced that they would be in the lobby for another "Meet And Greet" in a short while, I just knew that this time I would stay at the Barrymore and try to express all that I had felt. After purchasing a CD from the merchandise table, I ventured into the biding line of fans and very soon, I found myself standing directly in front of Dweezil Zappa, who was seated at a small table alongside the rest of the band minus Ben Thomas, who was off taking a well deserved shower.
While Dweezil did not say terribly much, he was extremely approachable, smiled often and easily and offered a very firm handshake. I mentioned to him that I had seen his show the previous winter when their bus broke down (to which he rolled his eyes and laughed at the memory), how deeply impressed and moved I was by this night's show and how I felt that he had reached a new plateau as a guitarist for never had I seen him play so freely before. He seemed to be touched by my statement, he asked my name, signed my CD and shook my hand firmly once more before I moved down the table to speak with the rest of the band, all of whom were open, gracious, conversational and also each signed my CD as well.
My conversation with Ryan Brown was especially enjoyable as I mentioned how Jimmy Chamberlin ain't got nuthin' on him, to which he nearly gushed and expressed how much of a Smashing Pumpkins fan he is himself. Regarding his incredible drumming on "Inca Roads," he expressed to me, "Do you know what I am thinking during that part of the song? I'm telling myself to BREATHE! To keep breathing! Because this is the fastest piece of music in the entire night and it's the very first song!!"
Before leaving for the night, I mentioned to both Brown and Chris Norton that I felt unsure if I should have said it to Dweezil or not because I wasn't sure if it would've been seen as weird or inappropriate but I felt that his Father would have been so proud if he were able to have seen what they all accomplished on this night. They expressed the same thoughts in return, hoping that they were always doing right by Frank Zappa's legacy. As far as I am concerned, they are and exceedingly well.
The music of Frank Zappa, I concede is not designed for all listeners. In fact, not all of it is even designed for me! But the Zappa Plays Zappa concerts are ones where I feel that everyone should see at least once, just so people had the exposure of knowing who Frank Zappa was and how unique his specialized brand of music remains. And besides, what you will receive is musicianship at its most superior and completely without any of the superfluous flash or gaudiness that would only distract from the actual music and these six people who just maybe six of the best musicians on the planet. Should they arrive in your city, do make time to experience this band and this music, for there is nothing else in the world that even comes close to existing within the same realm.
It is a musical universe unto itself and it is inconceivable to think of any better hands worthy of holding it, than Dweezil Zappa and the ZPZ band!
Friday, September 18, 2015
I will forever remain fascinated not only with how much music exists inside of a band but also how much music exists inside of each and every music listener, or in this case, inside of each individual band member. During my interview with Post Social’s Mitch Deitz, Shannon Connor and Brendan Manley, I asked each of them what they most favorite albums, their “Desert Island Albums” happened to be. I hope you not only enjoy this list for the music they enjoy themselves but also to see precisely which works inspired them and perhaps if you listen to Post Social’s music, you just may hear some traces of the music they love the most.
"Evil Empire" by Rage Against The Machine
"Alligator," "Boxer" and "High Violet" The National
"Houses Of The Holy" Led Zeppelin
"One Day as a Lion EP" One Day As A Lion
"good kid, M.A.A.D City" Kendrick Lamar
guitars, keyboards, vocals
guitars, keyboards, vocals
"Richard D. James Album" Aphex Twin
“Kid A,” ”Amnesiac” and “In Rainbows” Radiohead
“Gloss Drop” Battles
“The Monitor” Titus Andronicus
“Gloss Drop” Battles
“The Monitor” Titus Andronicus
“So It Goes” Ratking
“Rumours” Fleetwood Mac
“Teen Dream” Beach House
“good kid, M.A.A.D. CITY” Kendrick Lamar
"Wowee Zowee" Pavement
"Tim" The Replacements
"Bon Iver, Bon Iver" Bon Iver
"Sky Blue Sky" Wilco
“Rumours” Fleetwood Mac
“Teen Dream” Beach House
“good kid, M.A.A.D. CITY” Kendrick Lamar
"Wowee Zowee" Pavement
"Tim" The Replacements
"Bon Iver, Bon Iver" Bon Iver
"Sky Blue Sky" Wilco
"Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" Wilco"This album has so much timeless value!"