Zappa Talk with Les Claypool, Jake Cinninger, Jon Gutwillig, Chuck Garvey, Yoko Ono… (Relix Revisited)
Late last week Gail Zappa announced that the long-anticipated concert film of Frank Zappa’s three night run at The Roxy in Hollywood, CA on December 8-10, 1973 will finally see the light of day in theatres, DVD and Blue-ray. We mark the news with a look back at this feature which ran in the April/May 2006 issue of Relix.
I really appreciate anybody who has any type of signature, whether it’s a guitar player or somebody who makes pancakes. It’s so rare to have your thumbprint really stand out from the rest of the bunch. He was a fellow who challenged himself and did what he needed to remain interested in making music and creating. I think that’s very bold because when most people find their comfort zone, they stick with it. He’s a shining example for guys like myself to take chances, and not be afraid to take those chances. His humor was amazing—-“Dumb All Over” is still incredibly timely. It’s almost scary. He knew how to hit the nail on the head and still have it tickle your funny bone or bring forth this odd imagery that would border on silly. But, he would never get ridiculous to the point of where it would undermine his stature.
He is the first wildman of rock. His use of small orchestras for dynamic rock rather than big band jazz is the main connection between four piece rock-and-roll and the symphonic composers of the early 20th century: Prokofiev, Copeland, Stravinsky and Shostakovich. Plus, Edgard Varese’s inspiration will always be remembered through Frank Zappa. I feel like he single handedly upheld American musicianship during the early 60’s when the Beatles and Stones were dominant and Dylan was a folky. In my own music, I mostly focused on his compositional and orchestrating prowess as opposed to his guitar playing. “Echidna’s Arf (of You)” is the high bar for composition style rock music. “Regyptian Strut” is my favorite Zappa composition, but “Cheepnis,” “Who Needs the Peace Corps?,” and “It Must Be A Camel” are also all mind expanding.
I don’t believe in musical history. It’s a marketing strategy, either commercial or ideological, and I think people like Frank Zappa illustrate how silly all that is. From what I gather, he lived an uncompromised, musical life. He said what he thought, did what he believed in and produced a lot of fantastic art. The biggest impact his music had on me came just a year or two ago when I saw a video of a live show he did in Scandinavia in ’73 or ’74. It struck me that he was making so much good music when I was stuck listening to Fleetwood Mac’s Bare Trees. Hearing the comedic stuff he interspersed with those tracks offset the hyper-sophistication of the music. Maybe he did that to avoid pretension, maybe he thought it would be too obscure without it. Whatever the case, it made sense. In short, he was an inspiration. Anyone touched by that will be the better for it, now and forever.
When Zappa died, I had a thought that I wouldn’t be surprised if he “was disappeared” by some official agency—-like youth leaders who get a little too far outspoken. He is one of the great, seminal figures not only of iconoclastic music, but social commentary. In a way he took up the mantle of a contrarian naysayer like Lenny Bruce and, as Jimi Hendrix said, continued to wave his freak flag high. He was really outspoken and scathing about everything from government policies to consumerism. He skewered so many sacred cows in American culture. Musically, the genius of Frank was how he would integrate his compositions into an arranged framework In a minute he would also go from the highest of high-art, with quotations from Stravinsky, to the dirtiest doo-wop and esoteric music. And it was all done with an amazing sense of humor.
Beth Hart shares the opening track from her latest album, Bang Bang Boom Boom, live at Relix.
Jamie Lidell sets up in the Relix boiler room and delivers a tune from his 2005 album Multiply
Duane Trucks is happy to announce his new project, King Lincoln. Watch them perform “Coffee” live and acoustic at Relix’s Online-Video Coordinator’s loft in Williamsburg.
Here’s another song from Crystal Bowersox’s new record All That For This, live at Relix.
WYATT share a song in the famed Relix boiler room.
Goodnight, Texas share a song from their latest studio album, A Long Life of Living, live at Relix.
Warren Haynes performs a solo, acoustic version of “Railroad Boy” and explains how he adapted the traditional Celtic song for Gov’t Mule, backstage at the Hangout Music Festival.
Australia’s Alpine recently made their NYC debut at the Relix office with this song from their new album A is for Alpine.
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
Dame shares a song from her new EP Preventions of Heartbreak.
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