Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Weblog Awards

I'm not a fan of award shows on TV. I don't watch the Grammys, The Oscars, The Tonys, The People's Choice, or whatever else is out there. While I may make a note of the winners, as a pop culture item, I don't necessarily consider the awards as valid indicators of quality.

When it comes to internet awards, I'm just as apathetic. That said, it is an honor to be nominated forThe Best Comic Strip by the likes of Jon Swift, The Culture Ghost, and Tas.Thanks fellas!

I didn't make the cut as a finalist, but from what I gather at the site, the slate of finalists is selected by a mysterious "team of volunteers" that helps out the Wizbang guy that runs the awards. "Explaining why many nominated blogs are not finalists is always the trickiest part of The Weblog Awards."

I haven't been to visit Wizbang for maybe a couple of years. I don't know what goes on over there now, but back in the days when Tas ran Loaded Mouth, the Wizbang crew were bunch of Kool-Aid drinkers. So pardon me if I don't get all excited about an internet award run by Wizbang.

Now, BlueGal's "Don't Sugarcoat It Award"... there's an award worth winning! Happy New Year!

Good to be home...

Like many other folks at this time of the year, I took off for a couple of weeks. During the Post Zappadan, End Of The Year, Dead Of Winter Doldrums, my blogging has been on vacation, and the readers of my blog have been on vacation, too. I still get a few stragglers though, the lonely Boob Googlers who click through looking for Paris Hilton's sex tape, Britney Spears Shaved Pussy, and Nude Sarah Palin Naked Topless.

The vacation was great, but the traveling was harsh. Flights were delayed and cancelled. To get home, we ended up taking a bus from Chicago to Cedar Rapids through dense fog at 4:00 a.m.

Nothing like sleeping in your own bed.

During my vacation,I detoxed from the daily grind of media consumption. So, what is going on, what did I miss?

Larry Craig's Restroom Stall is tanking as a tourist stop.One person had offered to buy the restroom stall for $5,000, Hogan said, but airport officials "don't sell fixtures for novelty purposes."

If only they'd added a gift shop when the gettin' was good.

Meanwhile, Sarah Palin's daughter, the one named after paper favored by cartoonists, gave birth to a 7 lb. 4 oz. baby boy.

Apparently because "Dweezil", "Moon", and "Trig" were already taken, Bristol named her son "Tripp" after Levi's Mom's favorite hobby. Good luck, kid, you're going to need it.

In an effort to get back in the swing of things, I cleaned up my studio. Things have a way of piling up around here, so I've been sorting through the piles. I came across some old sketches, so I thought I'd do an end of the year "file dump" for fun.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

JoJo the Dog Faced Boy


This is Jack Turduckhen at The Zappadan Parade where a tragic series of events is unfolding. Moments after Larry Craig passed The Central Scrotumizer Crown to Joe Lieberman, Sarah Palin, angry and bitter at losing the Scrotumizer Crown, hijacked the Action News Traffic Helicopter and shot the Bullwinkle balloon with a high powered rifle. We're not in Wasilla anymore Toto! Stay tuned for updates to this Zappadan Crisis!

Last Throes of The Insurgency

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Zappadan Parade

This is Jack Turduckhen on the Red Carpet reporting live from the Zappadan Parade. While we wait for the current Central Scrotumizer, Larry Craig, to crown this year's Scrotumizer and start the parade, I'm talking with dark horse candidate for Central Scrotumizer, Sarah Palin.

Sarah, you needed a scrotum to qualify, so you went out and got yourself one. John McCain's scrotum, to be exact. What do you say to those critics who claim that your actions make you look like a "castrating bitch"?

Oh, Jack, you know those anonymous bloggers in their mom's basement with their Cheetos and their rumors and innuendos. Blah,blah,blah...

The fact is, Senator McCain wasn't using his scrotum, and his Presidential campaign needed some cash to pay off debts, so he sold his scrotum on Ebay to yours truly. I know the economy isn't doing so well right now, but still, you'd be surprised at how cheaply you can get a Senator's scrotum for these days.

Zappadan Comix

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Flies All Green and Buzzin'

The Torture Never Stops

The Central Scrotumizer

Zappa, The Monkees, and Dr. John

Zappa's path crossed the paths of many others, just because of being located in the Los Angeles area. I couldn't find any accounts of a relationship between Zappa and Dr John other than they played some of the same festivals and The Mothers did a song called Wino Man (with Dr John Routine), but Dr. John was one of the musicians creating music for the Monkees TV show as part of The Wrecking Crew, so I'm pretty sure they met.

Frank had some fun with The Soul of The Monkees.

Monday, December 15, 2008

High Times and Frank Zappa

Although Zappa was rabidly anti drug, he did find time to do some interviews with High Times Magazine. Here are some excerpts:

Zappa comes clean

Zappa: Yes. We also had a request to go to South Africa and play at an outdoor festival. I said that if they would make it a mixed event with blacks and whites together, I'd consider it, but they wouldn't do it so we didn't go. We even had an offer to play for the pope.

High Times: The pope?

Zappa: You don't believe me. Pope Paul VI. This is an offer that came into our office. The pope wanted to attract the youth of the world to a speech he wanted to make, and they were going to get all these rock groups to play. Popestock.

High Times: He wouldn't have asked if he'd heard "Catholic Girls."

Zappa: Well, not necessarily. You heard about his sex manual, didn't you?


Zappa: Well, let's get down to some details. I recall a meeting in the dressing room of the Garrick Theater wherein you explained in minute detail certain experiences that took place in the ladies' rest room after hearing a performance by Ritchie Havens –

Cynthia: That was me and Rosslyn. It was so insane. You see, we were really horny over the Mothers. At that time I was fourteen and the big thing was getting horny over the Mothers. Like, when I used to sit, me and Rosslyn, when you were playing an instrumental song, imagining you all were nude playing there, and you really went wild because you were coming and everything into the drum.

Zappa: Coming into the drum?

Cynthia: Right. So then, we wanted to see you so much, and you went off and we were having such a great time, sitting there, watching you nude and thinking of all sorts of fantasy situations and getting so horny over it. Then Ritchie Havens went on and we were getting very bored. We wanted to see the Mothers for more sexual arousement. So we went into the bathroom while Ritchie Havens was singing "San Francisco Baby Blues" and against the sink we started rubbing away.

Zappa: Rubbing away?

Somebody up there doesn't like me

HT: Why do you think they're not playing your records?

FZ: Somebody up there doesn't like me.

HT: Which somebody?

FZ: Well, I don't think it matters as long as there is such a thing as a somebody. We know that there is a somebody, and if he were elected, maybe we could do something about this somebody. But the problem is that the government of the United States is not exactly what really governs the United States. And this is true in other countries, too.

I think that the life of the people is in the hands of those who own raw materials and those who own manufacturing. They make deals with elected representatives to carry out merchandising programs on their behalf. It's almost like the politicians are a form of entertainment that allows people to get into pseudo-debates over pseudo-issues, while behind the scenes you have guys with billions and trillions of dollars moving weapons around, moving sugar around, moving cotton, soy beans, machinery, electronics, all this stuff. The world is a business. And the sooner we start looking at the world as a business, the easier it's going to be for us to live in the world.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Zappadan Photo-Op

The Philm Freax story about taking the photo that ended up on the cover of Chunga's Revenge

When it got to "coffee 'n' lick-yours" time, I spotted out of the corner of my eye, Frank wandering off through a side door followed by another photog, I left my cognac (don't worry, I went back for it later!) and slipped out another door, so as not to tip-off all the others too.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Zappadan: Franktasia

"And just like a drunk who won't touch, say, rye except as a last resort, I rarely stray toward the poetry shelves; so it's peculiar that I ever stumbled onto The Wild Party.It was the twenties typography on the spine that made me pick up the book..." Art Spiegelman, intro to The Wild Party,1994

Like Little Big Man going through his different phases, Zappa progressed through many different phases of his musical life. The different phases have their fans and critics. Because I'm a big fan of blues music, alot of my posts this year have featured blues artists. Zappa's Blues Phase, for lack of a better term.

There's the Rock Phase, The Dada Phase, The Porno Phase, The Jazz-Fusion Phase,The Classical Phase, which is different from The Orchestral Phase. Like the drunk who avoids rye, there are Zappa fans who shy away from some of the different phases.Sample them all, folks, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Another favorite phase is what I call The Cartoon Phase. Zappa is the Red Headed Bastard Stepchild of Carl Stalling and Sun Ra. Paul posted the link to this video of Ruth Underwood, but I'm posting the actual video for those folks that missed it. At about the 3 minute mark, Ruth plays the bit from St Alphonso, and it is pure cartoon magic.

Here's a mid Fifties Looney Tunes, "The High and The Flighty" with only the musical score. They recorded the music separately so foreign langauage editions could be dubbed easily.

Like Carl Stalling weaving pop tunes, broadway show tunes, big band ,be-bop, and classical bits into one tapestry, Zappa would at times drop bits and pieces of different styles into the mix. For example, 5 seconds of the theme song to The Tonight Show followed quickly by a piece from the score to "Creature From The Black Lagoon" might show up in a live version of Billy The Mountain, or some rumbling blues line is abrubtly followed by a snippet of opera.

"Through careful attention to rhythm, dynamics, pacing, and technology, he was able to bring sound elements together in a way that was almost without precedent. The closest parallels would be cartoon music soundtrack recordings of the 1930s-1950's, such as the work of Carl Stalling, and the music of Zappa's favorite classical composer, Edgard Varèse."

As we've seen and heard during this year's Zappadan, Zappa was into scoring for film, and indeed making films. A visual and theatrical quality is, at times, an integral part of The Zappa Experience. I have this idea for a Fantasia like project I call Franktasia. Animation to Zappa music has already been done, like with The Amazing Mr. Bickford, but I think another feature length production is in order. Different animators could do different pieces. I'm sure Matt Groening would be interested, and he could probably finance the venture with some of that Simpsons cash.I'll send out an email to Munchkin Music at Zappa.com and make some inquiries...

I volunteer to do the Night on Billy The Mountain sequences. Let the Fireworks begin!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Zappadan continues: Zappa and Henry Vestine

"Then we got Henry Vestine who is one of the most outstanding blues guitarists on any coast. He's really a monster. He was part of the group for quite some time. But our music kept getting progressively stranger and he couldn't identify with what we were doing and he wanted his freedom, so we said, 'Goodbye, Henry' and he split. He's in Canned Heat now."

Canned Heat.

Canned Heat gained international attention and secured their niche in the pages of rock ‘n roll history with their performances at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival (along with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and The Who) and the headlining slot at the original Woodstock Festival in 1969. Alan Wilson was already renowned for his distinctive harmonica work when he accompanied veteran bluesman, Son House, on his rediscovery album, “Father of the Delta Blues.” Hite took the name Canned Heat from a 1928 recording by Tommy Johnson.

They were joined by Henry “The Sunflower” Vestine, another ardent record collector and former member of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, capable of fretboard fireworks at a moment’s notice. Rounding out the band in 1967 were Larry “The Mole” Taylor on bass, an experienced session musician who had played with Jerry Lee Lewis and The Monkees and Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra on drums who had played in two of the biggest Latin American bands, Los Sinners and Los Hooligans and then with The Platters, The Shirelles, T-Bone Walker and Etta James

Vestine missed playing at the Woodstock Festival in 1969, having quit the band the previous week. In 1995, he explained to an Australian reporter that "[a]t the time, it was just another gig. It was too bad I wasn’t there, but I just couldn’t continue with the band at the time." There had been some tension between him and bassist Larry Taylor. When Taylor quit Canned Heat, Vestine returned; their alternating membership in the band was to be repeated a few more times over the years.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dog Breath Variations

"Like Pound, Moore and Lowell, Frank Zappa's renown exists independent of any widespread familiarity with his work.The public Zappa is remembered for the eccentric names he gave his children (Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva), his refusal to use drugs and his fearsome advocacy of the First Amendment.

There are also widespread myths, like the story that Frank Zappa once shit on stage or that he had a gross-out contest with Alice Cooper. In truth, all of the available facts suggest that little in Zappa's behavior resembled the rock and roll lifestyle that he documented in his work.

Interviews with former bandmates reveal a workaholic and homebody whose final triumph was a home studio that, when he was not on one of his many tours, allowed him to combine his passions for work and family. Zappa's life was devoted to creating an environment for his compositions. In The Real Frank Zappa Book, his autobiography, Zappa recalls that when Dweezil was born, he responded "musician" to the request for a religion on the hospital admission form. Close enough."

Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart

I think it was in The Real Frank Zappa Book where Frank described The Captain as Howlin' Wolf on Thorazine. Here's part 2 , part 3, part 4 , part 5 , and part 6 of the BBC documentary.

Bonus Track: The White Stripes playing China Pig

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Grill Rats Celebrate Zappadan

Frank Zappa and Buell Neidlinger

On Thanksgiving My friends Ken, Deb, Martin, and Misuzu came by for some pie. Ken and Martin are cellists, and Misuzu plays piano, so naturally we got talking about music. Martin is starting up a metal band with 3 cellos and a drummer, and he got talking about Dream Theater (Steve Vai did some recording with them, but only a vocal track, go figure!)I told them about the upcoming Zappadan celebration. Ken used to play in a symphony in Texas and suggested I investigate Buell Neidlinger. I couldn't find any video as he did mostly studio work, but Buell recorded with Zappa and Jean Luc Ponty.

Here's a small part of a great interview withBuell Neidlinger

All About Jazz: I wanted to first start with how you made the switch from ‘cello to bass and how you began your jazz career.

Buell Neidlinger: Oh, when I was young I was one of those – what do you call those people – prodigies? I was a cellist, and my cello teacher Luigi Silva’s idea was that in the summer you should take bass lessons for a month, because it would strengthen your hand for the cello, which is very true. Not only that, it makes the fingerboard of the cello seem that much smaller, and so the technical demands seemed much less than they had previously. Anyway, he hadn’t chosen a bass teacher for me, but he told my parents they should find one. My uncle was more interested in music than my parents were, and they put him to work to find a bass teacher. So, he picked me up one evening and took me down to Eddie Condon’s nightclub in the Village (it was on Third Street then) and he pointed to Walter Page, the great bassist in the Basie orchestra who was also with Eddie Condon for many years, and he said ‘there’s your bass teacher.’ And so I commenced having lessons with Walter Page. He had some ability with the bow – I had a lot more than he did – and he did show me the bass and how to play it, and I got interested in him as a person and I started to hang around Condon’s a few times (of course you had to go with an older person). I was thirteen or something – I was pretty young.

And that’s how I got started on bass.

AAJ: You had taught some too, at Cal Arts and the New England Conservatory?
BN: That came years later, after I was in the Boston Symphony. While I was with the BSO, I went out [to California] to record with Frank Zappa on October 19, 1969. That’s a date I’ll never forget because it was a turning point in my life. That day I met Mel Powell, who was the dean of music at the new school and had been interested in hiring me. After our meeting in Frank’s basement he hired me and I went to Cal Arts.

A short list of people Buell has played and recorded with:

Neil Diamond,David Grisman,Duane Eddy,Earth Wind and Fire,Rex Stewart, Vic Dickenson, Coleman Hawkins and Eddie Condon,Cecil Taylor's Quartet,Jimmy Giuffre 3, Steve Lacy, Gil Evans, Freddie Redd, six months as an accompanist for Tony Bennett,Marty Krystall,classical sessions with Stravinsky,Van Dyke Parks, Paul Williams,Peter Rowan,Poco, Lionel Ritchie,Maynard Ferguson, Stewart Copeland, Kenny Rodgers, Leo Kottke, Air Supply, Elvis Costello, Natalie Cole, Manhattan Transfer, Roy Orbison, Bonnie Raitt, Frank Sinatra, Pops Staples...and the list goes on.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Cartoonist Seeks $50 Million Bailout From Congress

IOWA RIVER BASIN (Disassociated Press)- The fate of the U.S. cartoon industry and scores of jobs are on the line as major players work out details on Tuesday for a plan to extend emergency loans to the political cartoon factory, Zencomix, in exchange for tougher oversight.

"With the election of Barack Obama, we're seeing lines of comedy credit drying up. The days when "John Bolton and Atlas Juggs singing a duet" brought in a cool million are long gone. Sarah Palin gave us a glimmer of hope, but with the election of Obama, the Lumpy Gravy Train has derailed. We need help." said Saul Shlee, author of the legendary underground sensation "Support The Republicans" and member of the Zencomix stable of artists.

Congressional Democrats and the White House have been in talks for several days to finalize an emergency loan package estimated to be worth up to $50 million to prevent the collapse of Zencomix. Longer-term help also could be on the way if certain conditions were met.

"Does he really need to spend all that time putting the eyebrows on his cartoons? It's highly inefficient." asked Congressman John Boner (R-Ohio), "And maybe it's time to put the ballpoint pens down and modernize to vector drawings. Sure, they may have to lay off some cross-hatchers on the assembly line, but you don't see Garfield or The Family Circus up here with their hands out."

The U.S. economy hemorrhaged more than 530,000 jobs during November, further increasing the urgency for help to stop the collapse of Zencomix and save more than 350,000 ROFLMAOs and millions of other LOLs that depend on the industry.

President George W. Bush has voiced concern about the cartoonist's ability to survive, prompting a meeting between White House aides and Democratic staffers."Hey, I was the guy's bread and butter." The President said, choking back tears. "Now what's he gonna do? It's not like he can recycle all the old cartoons like he's Blondie and Dagwood. About all he's got left is a few cliche ridden Lame Duck cartoons, and you can't even give those things away."

The administration has maintained that any plan must include best efforts to guarantee taxpayer dollars are paid back and that the cartoonist is able to reorganize and compete.

Democrats were trying to allay administration concerns through a counter proposal. They said they were confident a deal could be reached.

In return for aid, lawmakers have requested a serious commitment from the cartoonist to change the way Zencomix does business. Zencomix submitted business-plan information to Congress last week with a $50 million bailout request.

The latest draft would release loans later this month while establishing an oversight office of one or more officials to ensure compliance by the cartoonist. No bonuses or "golden parachutes" for top executives will be permitted, and Zencomix would have to sell their company's 1975 Datsun B210, "The Honeybee".

The proposal also sets a March 31 deadline for Zencomix to submit detailed plans of how they intend to cut costs and further overhaul their business.

"We're going to need to see more details on how Zencomix plans to spend the money. An outline written on a bar napkin for an epic graphic novel about a Mountain Named Billy is insufficient information for Congress to appropriate 5o million dollars." said Senator John Cornhole (R-Texas).

Frank Zappa and Steve Mann

In 1962 Mann was introduced to a young singer named Janis Joplin at an open mic performance at The Troubadour. Mann began accompanying Joplin on guitar and they performed at open mics around the Los Angeles area. They stopped performing together when Mann temporarily relocated to San Francisco.

"All the songs were from her repertoire, not mine, but anything Janis sang, I just found her key and we started in, because it was just the best old down-home blues singing possible, and I couldn't help but know what to do with that. She just belted out those blues and gave all her energy to the music. Her voice just poured through me and came out my fingers. We hardly needed to even practice her songs first, because I'd heard a lot of old records, probably many of the same ones she'd studied, and besides she was really good at taking cues and feeling when it was time for a guitar break--all that stuff. We both knew when the song was going to end, and it all came out great on the tape. She was a pro. She was very talented. A great voice. I was very impressed."

Guitar.com: Was there ever anyone that blew you away the first time you heard them?

Jorma Kaukonen: There was a guy I met, in 1963 named Steve Mann, from L.A. He played the 12-string guitar on Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe", worked with Mac Rebennack [Dr. John], and did a lot of sort of silly pop stuff. But he was a really brilliant fingerstyle guitarist. He would do really complex versions of Ray Charles songs like "Drown In My Own Tears" with all the big band changes, cool stuff.

Sometimes the musician wasn't up to par, sometimes it was drugs, or maybe sometimes, despite the musical abilities of a player, it just wasn't a good fit for the style Frank wanted.

Zappa:"somewhere along the line, we had hired Steve Mann, who is also one of the top blues guitarists on the West Coast. He wanted to play in the group but he couldn't make the changes and we got rid of him."

Monday, December 08, 2008

Frank Zappa and The Circle of Life



The Poodle Chews It

"There was a history of underground comic books, and there was a history of mainstream comic books -- but they didn't merge together," said Mann, who thanked the well-known writer and artist Lynda Barry for helping him understand that the scene was larger than any book or movie had recognized at the time. But the self-described cultural historian likely would have arrived at this conclusion with or without Barry's input: his filming methods can only be described as obsessive. He recalled interviewing virtually anyone who had even a nominal interest in the medium, acknowledging in disbelief to the crowd 20 years after the fact, "I interviewed Frank Zappa for this movie!" (Inexplicably, footage of the musician never made it into the film, and Mann rattled off about a half-dozen more artists he had spoken to who wound up as casualties of the running time -- among them being Scrooge McDuck creator Carl Barks, All American Comics editor Julie Schwartz and the legendary creator of the first all-woman comic book It Ain't Me Babe, Trina Robbins.)

Frank Zappa and The Voice of Cheez

There's a whole range of Zappa Tribute bands out there. The Voice of Cheez does a great acoustic version on this number. The Bicycle Percussion is extra special.

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!

Alice Stuart

Here's FZ's words from "The Incredible History Of The Mothers", june 1968

"Then we decided we were going to the big city - Los Angeles - which was about thirty miles away.We had added a girl to the group, Alice Stuart. She played guitar very well and sang well. I had an idea for combining certain modal influences into our basically country blues sound. We were playing a lot of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf-type stuff. Alice played good finger-style guitar, but she-couldn't play "Louie, Louie," so I fired her."

info from Prune Rooney:

You should really contact Alice about this because Frank didn't "fire" her, in this interview he was being sarcastic, he was making an inside joke. Frank and Alice were very close, and the bottom line is that their musical styles weren't a match.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Cruisin with Ruben and the Jets

While doing research for The Cosmik Debris of Zapparation, sometimes I come across a name in one place, plug it into the search engine paired up with Frank Zappa, and see what turns up.

Sometimes I remember something from long ago, like Matt Groening saying something like "Frank Zappa is my Elvis." And then plug that into The Googles to see what turns up. Frank did some cartoon voice work (The Powdered Toast Man was classic), but The Simpson gig never panned out.

Sometimes I take a band or musician I really like and go from there. I couldn't find any recording that Tony Levin did with Zappa, but he is a couple of Debris of Zapparation away. In 1970, Levin moved to New York City, joined a band called Aha, the Attack of the Green Slime Beast, with Don Preston of The Mothers of Invention. Lately he's been playing with Terry Bozzio, among others.

And then there the great band Los Lobos and their 1993 20th anniversary album, Just Another Band From East L.A., obviously a nod to the Mothers LP "Just Another Band From L.A". I couldn't find any reference to Los Lobos working with Frank, but googling "Los Lobos Frank Zappa" turned up this:

Rubén Funkahuátl Guevara is a singer, songwriter, producer, writer, poet, performance artist, and impresario. He made his mark in music with his 1970s band Ruben & the Jets, who recorded two albums on the Mercury Record label, the first produced by the legendary Frank Zappa

In 1958, Rubén and Pablo Amarillas formed the Apollo Brothers, who were influenced by Don & Dewey and the Carlos Brothers. They performed at the El Monte Legion Stadium, Alan Freed's Record Hop at Jordan High in Watts, Pacific Ocean Park, and various local television shows. They recorded for Cleveland Records and were the first Chicano duo to be played as a VIP platter on KGFJ, a Los Angeles rhythm and blues station

In 1965, Rubén performed solo on the hit national television show, Shindig. He was on the bill with Bo Diddley, Tina Turner, and Jackie DeShannon. Rubén opened the show in a medley with cast, sang a solo spot, and closed the show with Bo Diddley. Rubén's rendition of Bobby Blue Bland's "Don't Cry No More" went over so well, the producers wanted him to replace singer P.J. Proby, who had left the show.

In the late 60s, Rubén went to Los Angeles City College and studied music composition and modern composers for two years. This education was of help when he worked with Lalo Schiffrin on the soundtrack for Clint Eastwood's "Coogan's Bluff," in 1968, and his later work with Frank Zappa.

In 1969, Rubén went to a Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention concert at the Shrine Auditorium. Zappa had just put out a parody doo wop record called "Cruisin' with Ruben & the Jets." Rubén got backstage and thanked Zappa for bringing back that kind of music and told him that his name happened to be Rubén and that he sang in that style. Two years later, Rubén went to Zappa's house with a friend, keyboardist Bob Harris, who had toured with Frank. After spending hours listening to records and talking about music, Zappa and Rubén found that they liked much of the same music, rhythm & blues and doo wop, as well as modern composers such as, Varese, Bartok, Stravinsky, and Cage.

Zappa asked Rubén if he'd be interested in forming a real Ruben & the Jets. Rubén put the band together and auditioned for Zappa, who wound up producing their debut album on Mercury Records called "For Real." The album is classic doo wop and rhythm & blues. They did covers of Chuck Berry's "Almost Grown," Joe Houston's "All Nite Long," a soulful version of "Dedicated To the One I Love," which features a great guitar solo by Frank Zappa, and "Charlena," which was later also covered by Los Lobos.

Go read the whole thing, as they say.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Frank Zappa and Joe Satriani

"I remember seeing Frank a few times, and always really enjoying when the music got simple. He would improvise on top of it. Those were my favorite Frank Zappa moments," Joe admits. "I was never very much impressed with 'intense' arrangements, because they're rather intellectual: you get a piece of paper out, you put a bunch of dots on it, and you hire someone and say, 'play that!'" Satriani explains with a chuckle.

Joe Satriani was Steve Vai's Guitar Teacher.

Steve Vai mailed Frank Zappa a transcription of Zappa's "The Black Page", an instrumental song written for drums, along with a tape with some of Vai's guitar playing. Zappa was so impressed with the abilities of the young musician that he hired him in 1979 to do work transcribing several of his guitar solos, including many of those appearing on the Joe's Garage album and the Shut Up 'n' Play Yer Guitar series. These transcriptions were published in 1982 in The Frank Zappa Guitar Book.

Subsequent to being hired as a transcriber, Vai did overdubs on many of the guitar parts for Zappa's album You Are What You Is. Thereafter he became a full-fledged band member, going on his first tour with Zappa in the Autumn of 1980.

Meanwhile, Joe Satriani has filed suit against Coldplay for alleged copyright infringement of one of his songs. Satriani claims Coldplay's Grammy nominated hit "Viva la Vida" copied "substantial, original portions" of his 2004 song, "If I Could Fly."

Joe, Steve Vai, and Eric Johnson playing My Guitar wants to kill Your Mama Live

Friday, December 05, 2008

Frank Zappa and Little Feat

Neon Park, the artist for the Weasels Ripped My Flesh album cover, also did nearly all the Little Feat album covers.

Roy Estrada, original bass player for The Mothers, was also the original bass player for Little Feat

This is an interview with keyboardist Bill Payne from Little Feat. He talks about meeting Lowell George in the late sixties when Lowell was playing with The Mothers, prior to forming Little Feat.

When they were kids, Lowell George and Frank Zappa, appeared on the Al Jarvis Talent Show on KLAC-TV - George performed on harmonica in a duo with his brother and Zappa gave a puppet performance.They both lost the contest.

George's first band, The Factory, formed in 1965. Members included future Little Feat drummer Richie Hayward (he replaced Dallas Taylor in Sept 1966), and Martin Kibbee (a.k.a. Fred Martin) who would later co-write several Little Feat standards with George, including "Dixie Chicken" and "Rock & Roll Doctor".

At the end of 1967, The Factory was disbanding. They had been a staple of the club scene and were in the shows F-Troop and Gomer Pyle but a hit record eluded them. They did , however, record two demo songs for the Original Sound record label that were produced by Frank Zappa.

These two tracks, "Lightning Rod Man" and "The Loved One" (both included on the Lightning Rod Man CD) contain familiar Zappa production elements. "Lightning Rod Man", based on a Herman Melville story, was mistaken at times for a Captain Beefheart number.

Following the disbanding of The Factory, George briefly joined established hit band The Standells just prior to their disbanding. For a few months, George was a member of the Mothers of Invention. There was some confusion about which records George was actually on. Some records he played on, but got no credit, and some he got credit for but didn't play on. Weasels Ripped My Flesh? "You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Volume 5," including "Here Lies Love," with Lowell as lead vocalist? Burnt Weenie Sandwich?

According to George, he was kicked out of Zappa's group after proposing the drug related song "Willin".

Zappa's work in the studio was a big influence on George's own studio work as a producer of Little Feat records and other bands, like The Grateful Dead's "Shakedown Street".

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Zappy The Pinhead

Some people are purists and don't do Zappadan posts until the "official" start. I am not a purist! Zappadan doesn't start "officially" until the 4th. That makes Zappadan Eve on the 3rd, and it is now December 3rd in the Philippines! Think of it as Zappadan Foreplay...

Last year, I kicked off with a Peanuts gag. This year I pay tribute to Zippy The Pinhead and Zappa with a mash-up of a Zippyism, and the Mothers album Uncle Meat.

Back in the early 1990s, Bill Griffith had a "draw your own Zippy head" contest in his daily strip, and I was one of the winners.


The strip now appears in the Zippy book "From A to Zippy", and, also, too, my version of Zippy was one of 36 that was used on the inside front cover of the Zippy book "Pinheads Progress".


Bonus Cosmik Debris of Zapparation: