Music News & Reviews

August 6, 2014

Zappa Plays Zappa introduces Frank's music to a new generation

Don't think of Zappa Plays Zappa as another classic-rock tribute show, or the gathered musicians as just another cover band.

"This is a repertory ensemble," says Dweezil Zappa, son of the late Frank Zappa and leader of the six-piece group playing Saturday night at the Tower Theatre.

Think of the band — which authentically recreates the music of Frank Zappa — as a rock orchestra. Zappa was a self-taught composer and performer and a fiercely independent outsider artist throughout the late '70s and into the '80s. His music was often inspired and complex, more than even his son knew.

"I was always a fan, but the more I learn about it, the more I'm impressed with what he was able to accomplish," Dweezil says.

In fact, Dweezil had to unlearn 30 years of guitar training and create new picking techniques in order to accurately re-create what his father did naturally.

"Most people would find it a challenge not worth doing," he says.

The preparation for the show was intensive for all the musicians involved. Every song they play is taken from the original hand-written transcriptions and checked against the master tapes. Each note is played exactly as it was written by Zappa.

In that way, the concert is a tribute. It will no doubt draw longtime Zappa fans who are eager to see this music performed on stage again.

The show is also meant to introduce Zappa's music to a new audience, Dweezil says. There is an entire generation — maybe two— who missed the chance to experience Zappa before he died of prostate cancer in 1993.

"It's never a greatest hits review," Dweezil says. Such a thing doesn't exist with his father's music. But there are favorites and the band does play "Valley Girl" and "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow," he says.

The irony is, those songs often get Zappa categorized as novelty music, inviting people to disregard the complexity of the music underneath, Dweezil says.

"We're re-educating the audience by letting the music speak for itself."


9:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8 / The Cellar Door, 101 W. Main St., Visalia / $10 / (559) 636-9463,

Foxygen is the perfect example of the kind of soon-to-be-huge talent coming to Visalia thanks to the Sound N Vision Foundation. The indie-rock duo won the "Best New Music" award from Pitchfork and were Paste Magazine's artist of the year. They have played nearly every major festival during the past two years and are currently selling out 1,000-plus seat theaters in markets across the U.S.

The band's third album "… And Star Power," comes out Oct. 14 on the Jagjaguwar label. They play 9:30 p.m. tonight with Dub Thompson.

Skribble and NOvel

9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9 / Club Imperio, 3950 N. Cedar Ave. / $10, free before 10:30 p.m. with guestlist / (559) 228-1900,

Club Imperio opened in May with the promise of high-end Vegas-style entertainment and top-name touring DJs, such as DJ Skribble, who plays the club on Saturday.

Skribble has been at the turn tables for 30 years and has made a name by collaborating with everyone from Wyclef Jean and Britney Spears to Dave Navarro and Tommy Lee. He has been the resident DJ at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and is on tour with the singer-songwriter NOvel.

Jazz fest for scholarships

6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9 / Engelmann Cellars, 3275 N Rolinda Ave. / 559.285.0837, / $25

Richard Levy Band will headline The United Negro College Fund's second annual Jazz Festival for Scholarships.

More than 300,000 young people have been able to complete their college education over the past 60-plus years thanks to financial help from UNCF. The UNCF Fresno Committee seeks to make these same opportunities available to the African-American youth and other underserved students in Fresno. Proceeds from the concert will help support students.

The event will also include catered food, wine tasting, a cigar area and prizes. SHOW INFO


Zappa Plays Zappa, 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9, at the Tower Theatre. There will be a guitar master class taught by Dweezil Zappa prior to the show. Tickets are $42.50-$74 and $75 for the master class. Details: (559) 485-9050,


Related content



Entertainment Videos