Zappa Plays Zappa: Accept No Substitutes

By Barry Courter Article posted on Thu. Jan. 24th, 2013
  • photo
    Dweezil Zappa is the son of the late Frank Zappa.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.


What: Zappa Plays Zappa: Accept No Substitutes

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30

Where: Track 29, 1400 Market St.

Admission: $30 general admission, $55 VIP (includes preshow soundcheck party)

Phone: 521-2929



Dweezil Zappa: guitar

Scheila Gonzalez: sax, flute, keys and vocals

Pete Griffin: bass

Billy Hulting: marimba, mallets and percussion

Jamie Kime: guitar

Ben Thomas: vocals

Joe Travers: drums and vocals

Chris Norton: keys and vocals

Dweezil Zappa, 43, has heard his late father Frank's music his whole life. He seriously began studying it in 2006 in preparation for the initial Zappa Plays Zappa concerts he produced.

The latest version of the tour makes a stop Wednesday at Track 29, and Zappa said in a telephone interview that he is constantly finding new wrinkles and surprises in the songs he's heard thousand of times.

"It's the music I listen to the most, and there is always something I will discover," Zappa said. "He always has these hidden road maps to other things or songs. Certain songs have elements to other songs.

" 'Project object' is what he called it. All of the songs are interrelated as if it is one big note. He saw them all as one giant composition, which is a pretty mammoth concept."

Zappa said his goal at each performance is to showcase the variety and diversity of his father's music, which could jump from jazz to classical to rock to improvisation, often in the same song. Always they featured Frank's blistering guitar work.

Each tour mixes the more familiar songs, such as "Montana," "I Am the Slime" and "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow," with some lesser-known pieces. Added to the set list for this tour are "The Evil Prince," which Zappa said is like a mini-Broadway show, and "Strictly Genteel," which he said his father once called his personal favorite.

All of his father's works are complicated and intricate pieces that require a lot of rehearsal, which makes his job tough, Zappa said.

"People are not aware that it's a real challenge to have a band and to be able to do this and stay on top of the music and stay employed. It all costs money. You have to keep playing," he said.

"There is no job out there that can challenge you to the degree this music can. That's why we work hard to keep it going."

Growing up the son of a musician who was labeled as everything from a genius to just plain weird -- and who named his children Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva -- was not nearly as odd as people think, Zappa said.

"Well, one of the things that happens is that people have a hard time trying to figure out what it was like to have a creative parent," he said. "They would wonder what it was like to have a parent who wrote 'Don't Eat the Yellow Snow,' but Frank was probably more conservative than people think as a parent.

"Our dad enjoyed doing what he was doing, so he was in a good mood most of the time, and we had a happy home life. We didn't really sit and eat dinner together, but we all knew how to find our own time with our parents.

"People have always been expecting us to rebel. If I wanted to rebel, I would have to become an accountant or a lawyer."

Contact staff writer Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354.

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