<strong><em>Zappa Plays Zappa</em></strong> - Tour De Frank
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Dweezil Zappa
Guitar

Guitarist Dweezil Zappa has cocooned himself away in the studio this past year engineering his own metamorphosis. "In order for me to play my father's music correctly I needed to understand the fundamentals of his music more thoroughly, which meant a lot of studying." His goal was to emerge as a "better musician" as well as a "better guitarist." The autodidactic Zappa utilized the fruits of his labor to startling effect on his first album project in more than six years - Go With What You Know - featuring a unique guitar rendition of the elder Zappa's classic instrumental, Peaches En Regalia. "I actually played along with Frank's guitar solo from the original 'Hot Rats' master tapes. He had dedicated that album to me since he was working on that around the time I was born. It's cool to hear us playing together note for note in a stereo time machine."

The album will be independently released to coincide with the "Zappa Plays Zappa" European tour which hits the road this May. This is the first official live concert event of Frank Zappa's Music since his untimely passing in 1993. Joining Dweezil on stage will be a hand-picked band of new, young musicians.

Dweezil has recorded under his own name and with his brother, Ahmet, in their band Z. Six-string heroics aside, Dweezil has nurtured a successful television career, starting early on as an MTV veejay when he was only 17. He has appeared in films (Pretty in Pink, The Running Man with Arnold Schwarzenegger) and composed the music for several television shows including the Ben Stiller Show and the hit WB comedy, The Jamie Kennedy Experiment. In addition to cauterizing his fingertips learning to play the music of Frank Zappa for the upcoming tour, and lending his studio wizardry to the Zappa archives (his multi-channel production work on the recent Frank Zappa release, QuAUDIOPHILIAc, is positively mind-blowing), Dweezil has this to say about his upcoming album,"To me the record is like a weird audio movie. I really tried to create an interesting flow with it." And the tour rehearsals, "Prepping for the tour has been like preparing for a medieval battle where going into it your sharpest weapon is a spoon. But I'm pretty deadly with that spoon now."

Scheila Gonzalez
Saxophone, Flute, Keyboards & Vocals

Scheila Gonzalez was born in Los Angeles, California on August 5th, 1971. Her mother first enrolled her in piano lessons at the age of four. At the age of twelve she fell in love with the saxophone and she has never looked back. This versatile artist and educator can be heard on numerous recordings and in a variety of musical settings. Scheila has toured throughout Europe and Japan and extensively in the United States. She has had the opportunity to perform in prestigious venues such as Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Hall and the Kodak Theater. Over the years Scheila has performed with Lionel Hampton, Diane Schuur, Joe Williams, Nancy Wilson, Alex Acuna, Billy Davis, Marylin McCoo, Ray Parker Jr. and Billy Preston to name a few.

Some of her television appearances include The Tonight Show with Jay Leno backing up country music artist Garth Brooks and more recently the BET Music Awards with Sheila E. supporting Best Hip-Hop Artist Nominee T.I. She will soon be seen in the new Christopher Guest film "For Your Consideration" scheduled for release this Fall.

Scheila is an exceptional performer who embraces opportunities to play in diverse musical situations. Scheila's skills on woodwinds, keyboards and vocals keep her in demand. She thrives on the challenge and her passion for life is felt in every note she plays. Regardless of what style or instrument she's playing, every phrase is soulful and she performs with the ease of a true professional. She approaches all of her musical endeavors with great joy and if you ask her you will find that Scheila feels extremely blessed to get to do what she does.

Ben Thomas
Vocals

Unlike Willie, Ben is a large pimp with somewhat spiky hair and the women in hotel lobbies love the way he smells, not sells, especially after a bath. But the similarities run deep between Ben and Zappa’s many vocalists and characters that make up all of the wonderful albums and live shows he produced. His is after all an artist that wants to inspire listeners through music.

Ben started out playing drums on himself, like Mr. McFerrin, and then blew some horn in his formative years, ala Dizzy (but like a 7th grader). He then switched his talents to guitar and vocals and, in my opinion, brought them up to concert level rather quickly. Latin rhythms slowly seeped into his percussive hands (thanks to his Anglo-Saxon upbringing in the northern suburbs of Chicago), and soon, with the addition of the flute, that’s right – I said the flute, Ben was the most complete multi-instrumental artist since Tiffany.

But the instruments don’t matter much now, it’s all about the vocals. So with a sharp ear and a fully charged ipod, Ben must channel the likes of Ike, George, Ricky, Ray, Napoleon, all of the others, and above all Frank. He’s a little nervous, but totally thrilled and up for the challenge. (Even so, please be nice to him, it’s not easy)

In addition to the Zapposmosis, Ben has honed his Zappa chops by originating the role of Larry in L.A.’s Open Fist world premiere production of an interpretation of Joe’s Garage, an album which some of you might’ve heard of.

Chris Norton
Keyboards & Vocals

Hailing from "Music City" - Nashville, TN - Chris holds a degree in Commercial Music as a Piano Principle and Music Technology Emphasis from Belmont University. Growing up 60 miles east of Nashville in Cookeville, TN, Chris began playing the piano at nine years old on a strict classical diet. It wasn't until high school that he began performing various commercial styles, and also taking the stage for the first time as a vocalist. He joined the high school choir, and with his strong tenor and high falsetto, Chris secured chairs in the Tennessee All-State Choir three years in a row, as well as the ACDA National Choir in 2005.

After graduating high school, Chris began studying classical piano at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville. Here he studied with a full scholarship under the instruction of Dr. Catherine Godes, wife and protégé of the late Herman Godes - world famous concert pianist. In January of 2007, he transferred to Belmont University to pursue his interests in more commercial styles of music. He emerged as a strong and well-versed musician, specializing in synthesis and computer based music technology, including sequencing, arranging, film scoring, and sound design. While in college, Chris was a regular at The Big Bang dueling piano bar in downtown Nashville and keyboardist in the alternative rock band, September Haze. In the fall of 2009, Chris was hired as keyboardist for up and coming country music singer Ty Williams, and is featured in the music video for his single, "Barn on the Rooftop".

Kurt Morgan
Bass

Westerly, Rhode Island native Kurt Morgan began his musical journey as a devout KISS fan (but we won’t hold that against him). His formal study began with the clarinet. He really wanted to play the sax but they ran out of them at the music store, so his parents brought home a clarinet instead. Kurt endured years of embarrassment with the instrument, playing in Concert Band and Marching Band throughout Junior High and High School. He actually likes the sound of it now.

At age 13, he was chosen by THE BASS to carry on an ancient tradition of groove mongering, brick laying, and victim complexes. It wasn’t his fault. After High School, he went to the University of New Hampshire to study Music Theory and Composition. It was there that the music of Frank Zappa kept him from becoming a Music Zombie.

After college, Kurt moved to LA, did a bunch of gigs, a few tours, and eventually ended up working for the Zappa Family Trust as the librarian for Frank Zappa’s manuscripts, which included the official title of “Scoremeister” given to him by Gail Zappa. When the opportunity presented itself to audition for Dweezil and Zappa Plays Zappa, Kurt nearly peed his pants. Soon he would be in his favorite band playing his favorite music. It’s still not his fault.

Ryan Brown
Drums

Ryan Brown graduated from Indiana University with a degree in jazz studies and percussion. He plays with Los Angeles-based bands Black Belt Karate, The Fuxedos, SexTapes and Madras, and in the bands of Arrica Rose and Karem Malicki-Sanchez, among others.

He has toured with Taiwanese pop star Chyi-Chin and L.A. bands OWL and Ultraviolet Sound, performed on Last Call with Carson Daly with Ingrid Michaelson, played the Bern Jazz Festival in Switzerland with R&B artist Niki Haris and played drums on the hit single “The Real Thing” from Bo Bice. He has recorded tracks and albums with producers Marti Frederiksen, Mark Hudson, Mikal Reid, Russ Irwin, Rob Seals, Dan Garcia, Rob Shrock and Billy Morrison, to name a few.

Ryan can also be heard on releases by Foreigner, Clay Aiken, Madame Mayhem, Cassie Davis, Hannah Montana, Nick Lachey, Heather Graham, Suzie McNeil (Rock Star INXS), Jesse McCartney and Stephanie McIntosh, as well as on the movie soundtracks for Kung Fu Panda (Hans Zimmer and John Powell), The Dark Knight (Hans Zimmer) and Ice Age: Continental Drift (Adam Schlesinger). He’s performed on recordings with Alex Lifeson, Earl Slick, Elliot Easton and Rudy Sarzo.

Ryan has also appeared as a musician in numerous TV shows and movies, including Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End, Desperate Housewives, JAG and Samantha Who? (with John Taylor from Duran Duran). He is on the drum faculty at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, Calif., and teaches private lessons as well. A native of Denver, Colorado, he has played drums and percussion since he was 11 years old. When he was 15 years old, his mom made him a “Zappa” pillow, which he still has to this day.

 

 
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