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27 July 2008

A few fond memories...

Hello Friends,

I mentioned that I would would give you an update on the Spanish audiences. We really enjoyed visiting Spain and finally being able to play for the fans who live there. They definitely respect Frank's music there and they are well familiar with it. It was really fun to play for them. As enthusiastic as they were, it was tough to beat the feeling that we all felt while playing "Peaches En Regalia" in Milano. For me it will always be a true highlight of this whole Zappa Plays Zappa adventure.

After describing it to all of you in the last blog I noticed there was bootleg of that actual performance. Check out this clip - you'll get an idea of what I was talking about it. It was a spontaneous occurrence. It was a unique and very moving experience to be a part of.

We're back in the United States now. In fact, I'm currently sitting in a hotel in Knoxville Tennessee writing this. I've just returned from dinner with Scheila and Glynn Wood (Our Front Of House engineer). Normally this type of information is not worth mentioning in these little blogs. This time it is a little different. We were lucky enough to stumble across a local Market Square restaurant called La Costa. I am mentioning this only because we enjoyed the food so much.

I asked to meet the chef and personally invited him to our show tomorrow night as a thank you for preparing such a memorable meal. To me it's like sharing the equivalent of the ovations the ZPZ audiences have been so kind to give to the band. I don't know how often chefs get such immediate affirmation that their work has been appreciated. Empty plates are a good clue but I thought a few words attached might heighten the sentiment.

Besides fun food activities out here on the road we have all been really enjoying playing the selections for this current tour. I have been feeling as though I can really dig into some of the new guitar sounds in my rack as well. We've even been going over older songs at sound checks for fun. That will come in handy in the fall.

In a few days we will be announcing the special fall tour information. Be on the lookout. I'm pretty excited to let you know about it.

Regards, DZ

POSTED BY DWEEZIL ZAPPA AT 2008-07-27 21:15:52
27 July 2008

"You're Soaking In It"

And so are we.

Soaking in a big bathtub full of Frank's music, that is. It's a luxurious bubble bath that lets all of our cares melt away for a few decadent hours night after night.

Hello there!

I know it's been a while and I thought I should say hello, so HELLO.

We just had a wonderful albeit whirlwind tour of Europe. And although it was taxing (with 6:30am hotel departures on the day of a show) and difficult at times (rented gear, no sound checks) we always brought our best to to what seemed to be very grateful crowds. I think the last report was Dweezil saying that we had just played for an incredibly passionate audience in Milan and were off to Spain. Madrid and Barcelona flew by and I unfortunately didn't have the time or energy to get out and see the sights. The crowds were very loving and I was happy to do my best both helping Dweezil out with some Spanish pronunciation and conveying some info to the crowd in Espanol as well. Beautiful!

Then there was Berne and the Gurten Festival. The day was too gorgeous for words and I finally felt like I had had enough rest. So, as soon as we arrived at the hotel, I dropped my luggage in my room and got out and had a look around. Absolutely BEAUTIFUL! So clean. I walked around, did some window shopping and sat and had some lunch. Perfect. Then I hauled ass back to the hotel for a shower and got ready to head out to the show. We were picked up and taken up a hill to the festival site. Beautiful views and great audience. YAY!

You know...I would have to say that we have very RARELY played for a "bad" audience. I suppose a "bad" audience would have to be one that is not AS enthusiastic as they could potentially be. That being said, I can't believe the audiences this year. I know I'm often gushing and going on about things such as love and music, amazing audiences and gratitude. I AM a girl, after all. But it truly seems like this year y'all are really eatin' up what we're dishin' out. And we just don't get tired of servin' it up for ya. Seriously. It's so crazy how when we're limited to shorter shows at some venues and festivals, it is VERY difficult to narrow down the set list. There's just too much good stuff!

I'm sitting here in the front lounge of the bus listening to tonight's show in Birmingham. Please forgive me for tooting our own "tiny auto horn", but as I listen to our City of Tiny Lights I just get goosebumps from hearing the band just give it all we've got...and then Ray. Ray "M-F'n" White, y'all. That's right. I've got the honor and privilege of playing music with that man. And you get to hear it too! Unbelievable. He sounds so amazing. You know, most nights I lose myself onstage. I'm in the moment so much so that it's not until I listen to the recording of the evening's performance on the bus at around one or two in the morning that I am struck by the virtuosity, soul, love, passion, uh--intestinal fortitude, attention to detail, musicality, creativity and integrity of the musicians around me. Not to mention the impossibly brilliant compositions. I would have to say that the music of Frank Zappa is alive and well judging from crowd reactions, fan
reviews and the looks on peoples' faces.

Sometimes I'll lose myself in the moment so much that I go from performer to witness. I did that last night as we started playing G Spot Tornado. I was playing my part, then I began watching my fingers play the part on the keyboard and thinking "how did we learn this? How am I playing this?". It amused me so much that at a certain point I was just watching, listening and marveling at the performance along with all y'all. This cracked me up as I kept thinking to myself "remember, YOU'RE playing this! Don't get SO caught up that you forget to play your part!" :-D Ahhhh yesssssss, good times...

In conclusion, between "Whiskey Milkshakes" and the newest "converts" I believe that the word is getting out to lifer's, newbies and everyone in between. If you've been to a show, come on back and bring some friends with you, preferably the non-believers. We'll take care of them! ;-) If you haven't been out yet, what are you waiting for? There's something for everyone and it all came from one man, FZ--served straight-up by ZPZ.

These guys I work with know how to deliver this stuff and they serve it up right every night. I could devote entire blogs to each and every one of them as musicians and people. Joe, Jamie, Peeyot...sorry, uh, Pete, Billy--JEEEZUS, Billy!, my brother Aaron, Ray, Dweezil--it's an honor. Thank you and I love you...

Scheila

PS--I didn't write any of this to be self-indulgent, I'm just honestly stupefied by it all. Seriously.

Now we're all listenin', laughin', resting', OH, JAMIE SEZ: "What up, bitches!!!". Billy's excited, I mean REALLY excited about the Oat Bran he just discovered. In fact, he's so excited that he sat in gum.

And with that, I bid you goodnight...

Goodnight!
xoxoxox

POSTED BY SCHEILA GONZALEZ AT 2008-07-27 20:11:05
16 July 2008

Hello Friends,
Just a quick note to fill you in on our European adventure so far. We started off in Holland at the world famous North Sea Jazz festival. I ran into Ralph Armstrong. He used to play with Frank. He had some nice stories to share. That was fun.

We played our show with all rental equipment except for our guitars and horns. (It's way too expensive to bring our own gear for this short run of fly dates) Festivals routinely have no soundcheck so that adds to the challenge. It's the nature of the beast. We had a few technical issues at the North Sea gig - things like Ray's voice not being audible in anyone's in-ear monitor mix for the first couple of songs. It's a good thing Ray has such a natural gift to sing in tune otherwise it could have been a little "special" for the audience.

We had short time allotment. The set length was 75 minutes. It flew by. The crowd was very nice to us though.

The next day we flew to Milano, Italy. We played at a villa modeled after the Versailles Palace called Villa Arconati. It's a beautiful place. The stage was set up in a tent outside in the courtyard. It was a bit like playing inside a Zeppelin. There was about a 6 second decay for any noise that come off stage. Not exactly ideal for detailed music.

However, the Italian audience blew us away. They had a huge surge of energy during "Bamboozled By Love" and they kept it going throughout the rest of the night.

When we played "Peaches En Regalia" in the encore I thought my mind was playing tricks on me. The audience sang the melody so loud that at a certain point we broke it down to drums and bass so we could all hear the audience sing. I've never seen or heard anything like that. That's a tricky melody to sing - they nailed all the rhythms. It was amazing to witness that.

I had a really good time with that crowd. I'll be happy to go back to play for them anytime.

We're off to Madrid in the morning. It will be our first time playing in Spain. We were originally supposed to start the 06 tour in Spain. We never ended up going there. I'm looking forward to it now though. I'll let you know how it goes.

Regards, DZ

POSTED BY DWEEZIL ZAPPA AT 2008-07-16 10:53:33
8 July 2008

Soap Opera: AKA Lengthy Blog about stupid stuff...

Hello Friends,
I recently read an amusing tale about an incident that supposedly took place stage side during one of our shows. The author of this highly exaggerated tale is André Cholmondeley. He would like you to believe he was physically attacked. More on that later...

Perhaps it is his dream come true that I would take a moment of my time to write a few sentences that publicly address him. It's a one shot deal - You're welcome.

Here you go...

Dateline - Los Angeles California:

The following are actual private e-mails between me and Adrian Belew. (I apologize to Adrian in advance if this causes him any aggravation.)

I would not normally be inclined to use private information in this way but it perfectly illustrates the details of the "non event" that follows.

Dweezil Zappa writes to Adrian Belew - (e-mail addresses have been removed.)

On June 20, 2008, at 1:42 am, dweezil wrote:

Hello Adrian,
I hope this e-mail finds you doing well. I have noticed that you will be playing before us at 2 upcoming shows. I would like to extend an invitation to you to sit in with us if you like during our set. We are playing "Tiny Lites" and "Flakes" either of those 2 songs could make for a good surprise cameo.

Please let me know if you would be interested.

Regards, DZ

On June 30, 2008 12:04 pm, Adrian wrote:

dweezil,
please excuse my late reply.
I've always had a secret desire to show up for a concert with no guitar and no cases full of gear, just a harmonica in my back pocket.

so...
my idea of a cool cameo would be to come out in the middle of flakes harmonica in hand, sing the sad bob dylan part, and exit stage right, hopefully to applause.
what do you think?

cheers,
adrian

ps: I greatly admire and respect what you are doing for your father's legacy.
no one deserves it more than he and I've heard you do it exceptionally well.

After this first electronic exchange I was informed that Adrian was employing André Cholmondeley as his guitar tech. André's propensity for spreading misinformation and negativity has earned him a reputation. A reputation for being obnoxious and creating conflicts.

Since those personality traits hold no appeal for me I decided to write back to Adrian with a request.

On June 30, 2008, at 11:43 pm, dweezil wrote:

Hello Adrian,
Nice to hear from you. Your idea sounds fun and easy.
I think people will appreciate it. They may even decide to clap a little bit... It happens sometimes.

We usually play Flakes midway through the show. I can say, "Take it away Bob or Adrian" whichever you prefer and you can enter to Ray's microphone.

Just let us know day of show if you're up for it and we'll do it.

On a different topic - perhaps an awkward one - I have been informed that you are working with Andre from Project Object. He is likely your friend as well as your employee so you may not enjoy what is to follow.

Whether you are aware of it or not he has instigated a lot of unpleasant things on our website forum and has made many transgressions musical and otherwise regarding Frank over the years. It would be my preference that he politely remove himself from my view before, during and after our set. For me
the phrase persona non grata is applicable in this case.

I can understand if you feel awkward relaying this and I can even understand if you choose not to accept my invitation to join us on stage as a result.

The fact of the matter is he knows what he has done and it should come as no surprise that I wouldn't appreciate him being anywhere near me now or in the future.

I apologize for having to bring this to your attention.

I thank both of you for your consideration and cooperation on this matter in advance.

Regards, DZ

A politely worded simple request. Here's Adrian's response.

On July 1, 2008, at 9:05 am, Adrian wrote:

dweezil,
please introduce me any way you like.
what key is flakes?
I'll bring the appropriate harmonica.

it's true andre works for me now.
I will make certain he is persona non grata as best I can.

as I told gail, I try always to honor frank, his memory, and his music. he remains a towering inspiration to me. I loved him too, and I could never repay him for what he did for me.

I take responsibility for my own actions, never for the actions of others.
I've have heard bits of the rhetoric surrounding project object (after the fact) but remain apart from it all.
should you or your family have any problem with anything I might ever do, please let me know.

see you onstage.
cheers,
adrian

That was July 1st. Whether or not Adrian decided to convey my request to Andre I do not know for sure. But it is safe to assume by his e-mail that he had every intention of doing so.

It is also clear by his e-mail that he is aware of the existing circumstances that could warrant such a request.

Dateline - Ottawa July 5th:

Showtime for Zappa Plays Zappa. Dave Tobias is mixing our in ear monitor mix and is dealing with a keyboard that has lost phantom power. Andre saunters up and tries to make himself at home in Dave's work area. Why would he attempt to do this? Surely he has been told that it would be polite to stay away by his friend and employer Adrian Belew. One must ask, "Why not go enjoy the show from the audience or anywhere else... just be polite and respect a simple request?" Besides, who willingly wants to be in a place where they know they are not welcome?

Dave stops Andre and relays the message that he is not supposed to be there. No touching, pushing or spitting occurred. Loud talking happened, that's it. There was a concert going on and Dave had in ear monitors in his ears. At no point was anyone instructed to be rude to Andre in fact just the opposite is true. Andre even mentioned in his own blog about how nice everyone was earlier in the day. He even mentioned Dave Tobias. Everyone believed that Andre knew about the request and was willing to co-operate and watch the show from a different vantage point later on.

Apparently Adrian must not have made it clear to him that he was not welcome in the stage area. Or maybe he did and Andre decided to ignore the request? In any case, Dave Tobias was a little surprised to see Andre in his work area given all of the back story. He most likely assumed Andre was informed of the request to politely be elsewhere and that he was just trying to be obnoxious again - which is why I originally requested he politely remove himself in the first place.

That's end of the story. Probable miscommunication from Employer to employee. End result stupid drama.

The show the next night had no incident whatsoever. Andre still temerariously snuck himself to the side of the stage though. It's just his way. He can't help himself.

Contrary to his report where claims he locked eyes with me at some point during the show, I'm here to tell you that it never took place. He'd know if I locked eyes with him. "What an imagination"

Here's a paragraph dedicated solely to Andre. To me, if you really have respect for my Father and his music you have an asinine way of showing it. By repeatedly insulting Frank's family and ignoring copyright laws related to his music you have proven the exact opposite of respect. Your obsequious fawning over "alumni" and your precious associations you have with them are embarrassingly shallow. Your attempts to draw attention to yourself as some sort of soldier fighting the good fight for Frank's music reveal what you really are - a depressing epigone starving for recognition.

One last thing, for me to care at all about what you say or do would mean that I have some sort of respect for you or your opinion.
Sadly, I have neither.

End of 15 minutes...

Regards, DZ

POSTED BY DWEEZIL ZAPPA AT 2008-07-08 10:31:22
7 July 2008

Hello Friends,

We've just completed our brief Canadian summer tour. We did it in fine style here at the Quebec International Summer Festival. We were quite pleased to help the city celebrate it's 400th birthday. There must have been over 10,000 wildly enthusiastic fans packed into the staging area with many more lining the city streets at the outer edges.

I've said it before but it's worth repeating, the Canadian audiences are amazing. The energy they send back to the stage can be overwhelming at times. Frank's music has clearly left an indelible impression on the collective imaginations of these impossibly nice people who live up North. They have been making a strong connection with Zappa Plays Zappa as well. We will be happy to play in Canada any time.

Tonight was a fun show. Even though I still have a runny nose and a nagging cough and Joe Travers pulled a muscle in his neck leaving him in absolute agony 3 songs into the show, the audience was right there for every moment of every song. It was a crowd of great diversity. Many young people were shoulder to shoulder right down in front. We always like to see that. You could also tell that there were a lot of long time FZ fans out there in the crowd. We certainly always appreciate their continued support as well.

The audience got a nice surprise when a special guest appeared onstage during "Flakes". Adrian Belew furtively crept out onto the stage replete with harmonica in hand and performed the Bob Dylan monologue. Wearing his Army Nurse's hat from Baby Snakes, he finessed a few perfectly comical harmonica toots and scampered back into the darkness to the sound of Power Chords and a roaring crowd. He sounded great and it was fun to have him join us on stage for that. Thanks Adrian!

Well it's time to hit the road again. We'll be coming to a town near you soon. See you at the next concert.

By the way, be on the lookout for special information regarding our Fall Tour. There are a lot of cool things in the works!

Regards, DZ

POSTED BY DWEEZIL ZAPPA AT 2008-07-07 12:24:39
6 July 2008

take off

Hello all, I'm writing from a brief hotel respite after the show here in Ottawa and I've finally got the chance to sit down and write some of the stuff that's been going through my head recently. Playing all these outdoor festivals has been so amazing, some of the settings have been truly breathtaking, and all of the crowds have been responsive and rocking.
Here's where I might start waxing spiritual, so forgive me. I've always wanted to fly. Pretty much everything I've done in my life has been a jealous attempt to recreate what birds must feel when they catch a breeze with their wings open and just soar. Sometimes, playing with this band, these people, and particularly backing Dweezil up during a solo, something happens that has to be the closest I'll ever get to that feeling. The breeze picks up a little, I close my eyes and get lost in whatever we're playing, and I could swear my feet lift off the ground. That freedom, that amazing feeling of some sort of super power, would never be possible without each person present, including the last person in the last row of the crowd. So thank you, all of you, for helping me fly.
Ok, back to Crisco-ing my wristwatch.

Pete Griffin

POSTED BY PETE GRIFFIN AT 2008-07-06 01:26:02
 
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