Zappa Plays Zappa — an elaborate tribute the music of the late composer, guitarist, and Mothers of Invention bandeader Frank Zappa — makes a stop in Charleston in this summer. Fronted by guitarist Dweezil Zappa, Frank’s eldest, the project first got off the ground in 2004 when Dweezil began compiling tunes from his father’s prolific catalog and assembling the seven-piece band (early participants included Zappa alumni Steve Vai, Terry Bozzio, and Napoleon Murphy Brock). In 2006, he led his entourage traveled the globe on the “Tour de Frank.”
“It seems to me that people my age and younger know the Zappa name a little bit, but they don’t know a lot about the music,” Dweezil Zappa announced in a press release last year. “They might know some of the songs that accidentally got on the radio, but those songs don’t represent the totality of Frank’s output. I feel that Frank’s music needs to be proposed to a new audience. The core fans have always been there, but in the past 13 years, there’s been no outreach program to introduce it to younger fans. Because his music will not suddenly just start being played on the radio 700 hundred times an hour, the only way to effectively reach new people is to play it live. I wanted to seize the opportunity now because I can’t stand the notion of his music fading away in my lifetime.”
Dweezil released his first album, Havin’ a Bad Day, in 1986. He also worked a big-haired stint as a VJ on MTV in the late ’80s and appeared in a few music videos and movies.
The Zappa Plays Zappa ensemble embarks on a massive world tour in this month. They’re confirmed for a headlining date presented by MCP (Meatcamp Productions) at the Charleston Music Hall on Mon. July 27 Show time is 8 p.m. Tickets are available for $39 and $52 through Etix.com. Premium reserved seating is available.
In May 2009, it was announced that Ben Thomas is the new lead singer for the American and European tours after a lengthy audition process for the band. This spring and summer, Zappa Plays Zappa joins Dream Theater’s Progressive Nation Tour 2009 (they hit the Tabernacle in Atlanta on July 28 and the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in Asheville on July 29). It looks like this Charleston gig is one of many one-off side shows, which is mighty lucky for local Zappa-heads.