Zappa Plays Zappa (Double Set)
Growing up in the Zappa family home, Dweezil Zappa marveled at his father’s virtuoso skills as a composer and guitarist. After his father’s passing he was inspired to do something to honor his father. Feeling as though there was a generational gap and a fair amount of public confusion as to what his father’s music really was, Dweezil set about creating an opportunity for music fans to make a new discovery. Not satisfied with the generic journalistic descriptions that had been applied over the years or the accidental default association of “novelty act” he earned by way of the casual radio exposure of songs like “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow” and “Valley Girl,” Dweezil Zappa decided it was time for a change. He wanted to expose core fans as well as a potential new generation of fans to his father’s compositions in a way that would give them a balanced perspective of the totality of Frank Zappa’s work. He wanted to play the music as it was written on the page without deviation except for the obvious improv sections. He also worked diligently to match the textures and timbres of the instrumentation in each song, especially the guitar tones, Evoking the character of each era of the catalog. He set out to have the music speak for itself. If Zappa Plays Zappa was to become a conduit for a new generation of people discovering Frank Zappa’s music then Dweezil wanted to do his best so that very little could be lost in translation.
In 2004 he began voraciously studying the music of his father. Through this process he realized he would need to adapt his approach to guitar playing. After more than 25 years of ingraining alternate picking skills, Zappa purged his mind of this approach and fully recreated his playing from the ground up. This was necessary in order to accomplish his goal of performing many interludes originally written for keyboards and marimba. After incorporating new picking techniques such as economy/sweep picking as well as hybrid picking, he was able to re-envision the guitar neck and learn to perform musical passages that had never been attempted on guitar by anyone in any of Frank’s bands.
He then set out to audition musicians to join him on his musical journey. It was his intention to create a core band that had no previous affiliation with his father. After several arduous auditions consisting of hopefuls performing songs like “Inca Roads” and “The Black Page” on their own with a drummer. This was designed to show off and and all strenghts and weaknesses. These songs were meant to be learned in 2 days and be performed based upon the auditioner’s own transcriptions. Dweezil purposely created this treacherously difficult task in order to uncover the most serious and dedicated players. If anyone was to prove they could learn the music in that time frame and create accurate transcriptions then they would become a possible candidate for the band.
Dweezil’s strategy paid off as he was able to find a strong group of musicians whom he selected for the core band. They began rehearsing right away. He prepared the core band with the idea that this could potentially be an ongoing tour.
Once word of the project spread, promoters were quick to show interest in booking a tour. The caveat was that they wanted to turn it into a spectacle that down played the new core band. They suggested that the tour act as a circus of revolving Zappa alumni. This was not at all what Dweezil envisioned and almost immediately folded the project before it even got off the ground. Dweezil wanted to focus on the music and not the musicians that formerly played the music. He made a very clear distinction between the two saying, ” As a kid I watched my father perform his music and I was immensely inspired by it. It was obvious to me that all the musicians needed to be experts in order to play the music. I wanted to do this project so that younger generations could discover this music and witness the level of dedication required to play it. I hoped that given the opportunity to see the music played live it would give a new perspective of what is possible in music composition, especially by way of comparison to current popular music. Maybe future musicians would be inspired to be the very best they could be on their instruments.” He went on to say, ” In creating this band I wanted to showcase a new, younger generation of musicians who are capable of playing this music commensurate with the performances heard within the catalog.”
Promoters still saw the project differently and wanted a band of all former band members led by Dweezil. This is what they wanted in order to book the tour. In a compromise Dweezil chose the material he wanted to focus on from his father’s career and transformed the inaugural tour into a celebration of the music with an extra bit of frosting on top in the form of a few guest performances from former Zappa band members he hand selected. This proved to be a good enough middle ground and the tour was booked.
The band debuted in 2006 with shows in Europe, Canada and the United States during May and June (the tour was also known as Zappa Plays Zappa: Tour de Frank). The shows presented a dazzling collection of some Frank Zappa’s most iconic compositions from the 1960s to the late 1970′s. Apart from Dweezil Zappa on lead guitar with his core band he was joined by guitarist Steve Vai, drummer Terry Bozzio, and singer Napoleon Murphy Brock. At several shows the live band stunned audiences by invoking other worldly encores by Frank Zappa himself. By synchronizing it’s own performance with classic and rare audio and video recordings the band was able to play in real time with the audio and video giving the audience to see Frank Zappa in his prime once again or better yet for the very first time for a new generation.
The Bridge (Double Set)
The fearless leaders of The Bridge have traveled an enormous distance to get where they are; all the way from living off-the-grid on a remote Hawaiian farm—in Kenny Liner’s case—and chafing in the buttoned-down corporate world—in Cris Jacobs’—to making a formidable album that’s fed by hometown roots and laced with wanderlust. It’s called National Bohemian, a nod to both the Baltimore-based sextet’s beloved local brew and their creatively rewarding but often unglamorous hard-touring lifestyle. It’s also the work of a dexterous band of players to be reckoned with. And it’s available February 1, 2011 on Woodberry Records/Thirty Tigers.
Snarky Puppy Live at Berkeley Performance Center on March 30, 2013
Twiddle Live at Higher Ground on April 20, 2014
Jerry Joseph & the Jackmormons
For more than 30 years, Jerry Joseph has been strapping on a guitar and chasing down truth, understanding and soul with tenacity and resonant skill. Joseph is the archetypal musician’s musician – something that’s resoundingly clear on his sweeping new double album Happy Book, to be released March 20, 2012 on Response Records. Look for Joseph and his band to tour this spring in support of the album’s release. The list of currently confirmed tour dates is listed below – with many others still to be announced.
Captured with muscle and blood by Joseph’s longtime trio The Jackmormons,Happy Book presents Jerry Joseph & The Jackmormons at their most diverse and confident; it’s a record with a wide swing that dexterously moves from whisper closeness to Technicolor expansiveness. Produced by Joseph’s former Little Women band mate Gregg Williams (Dandy Warhols, Blitzen Trapper), Happy Book is an emotional and sonic wallop fueled by the tightest, tastiest playing the Jackmormons have ever captured in the studio. “After 17 years, this album brings together a lot of things I’ve always wanted on a record,” explains Joseph. “This sounds like a band that’s been together 17 years and has evolved along the way.”
Happy Book incorporates horns and other choice elements from guests – Jenny Conlee-Drizos and Chris Funk (The Decemberists), Eric Earley (Blitzen Trapper),Dan Eccles (Richmond Fontaine), Wally Ingram, Little Sue Weaver and Paul Brainard – into The Jackmormons’ tight-knit chemistry to create an expansive work that captures Joseph’s startlingly broad musical range in a roughly graceful, swiftly intoxicating way.
Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons Live at Sitzmark Bar and Grill, April 12,2014
Carl Filipiak & the Jimi Jazz Band
Carl was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and has long been a creative force on the hometown music scene. Starting out playing gigs six nights a week in bands covering rock and soul, he was still in his teens in the sixties when he was opening up for David Ruffin, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, The Marvelettes, and The O’Jays. Those same years also
brought him into the world of jazz and he studied for years with Buddy Rich alumni, Walt Namuth. Equally influential were his lessons with local great, Larry Wooldridge.
Fast-forward to the late eighties after thousands of enormously meaningless gigs with local bands Carl (finally) records and starts his own label, Geometric Records. He recorded seven critically acclaimed CD’s with Dennis Chambers, Bob Berg, Gary Grainger and Gary Thomas and found himself playing around the country doing tours and gigs with Will Calhoun, Victor Wooten, Scott Ambush and many others.
Throughout the 90’s he also did clinics with some of the greatest drummers in the world and opened for artists Eric Johnson and Wynton Marsalis to name a few.
Carl has not stopped since – he currently plays on the East Coast with Frank Young(drums), Paul Hannah(sax) and Matt Everhart(bass) and endorses Fender Guitars and Dean Markley Strings. He also teaches privately and his latest book, “Rock-Fusion Improvising” from Mel Bay Publications is listed in Guitar One Magazine as “One of the top 25 books and DVD’s you must have.”
Hailing from one of the fastest growing regions in the country, North Carolina’s BIG Something is one of the most exciting new rock bands to emerge from the Southeast. The band features Nick MacDaniels (guitar, vocals), Doug Marshall (bass), Josh Kagel (Keys, Synth, Trumpet), Casey Cranford (Sax, EWI), Jesse Hensley (lead guitar), and Ben Vinograd (drums). With a powerful sound that is both refreshingly original and yet classic in its approach, BIG Something is a straight up rock band that calls upon song craft with compelling vocals and a diverse range of inﬂuences. Fusing elements of rock, pop, funk, jazz and improv, the band likes to take listeners on a journey through a myriad of musical styles while incorporating a mix of organic and electronic sounds with the use of horns, keys, synthesizers, an electronic wind instrument, heavy guitars, and a tight powerful rhythm section.
In 2010 the group recorded and released a debut concept album with critically acclaimed Raleigh producer and Grammy Nominee John Custer (Corrosion of Conformity, Cry of Love, Dag). The album – Stories from the Middle of Nowhere – was an instant regional hit capturing the Home Grown Music Network’s 2010 album of the year award and spending several weeks at number 1 on the Jambands.com radio charts. Since then the band has released a fan favorite live album Live from Uranus and most recently in 2013 – a self-titled studio album that captured 3 different “Album of The Year” awards within weeks.
Now with several years of relentless touring experience, the band has traveled the country sharing the stage as direct support for the likes of Galactic, moe., The B52s, Robert Randolph and The Family Band, Zach Deputy, DJ Logic, Toubab Krewe and countless other up and coming artists. They are also a high demand festival act, having appeared at: FloydFest, Camp Barefoot, Blackwater, Strangecreek, Wormtown, Smilefest, Mantrabash, NC Music & Arts Festival, Pink Moon, Jerry Garcia’s Birthday Bash, Gathering of The Chaffee, Front Porch Fest, Domefest, & many more. With a rapidly growing passionate fanbase, BIG Something also hosts their own annual Summer music festival and campout in Mebane, NC called The BIG What? which has sold out two years in a row further propelling this imaginative, entertaining and musically progressive jamband rooted in traditional American music of the southeast to a much wider national audience.
Pimps of Joytime
Tweed inspires and excites with music fueled from high energy performance and improvisation. Just as their namesake fabric of mingling colors and textures, Tweed has interwoven a psychedelic web of funk, rock and electronica. The band was formed at University of Delaware and now calls Philadelphia their stomping ground. Their collaboration can take listeners from multi-layered visions through the psyche to sweaty, raging dance parties driven by their own incessant beat.
Founding members AJ DiBiase (guitar), Jon Tomzcak (synth) and Joe Vela (drums) recently added bass player Dan McDonald to their lineup stimulating new energy and momentum. Bust out your dancing shoes, this ain’t your grandfather’s tweed!
B Side Shuffle
With a sound built on old school District funk, new school dance grooves, snarling rock riffs, and vocal-forward hooks, the Shuffle quickly gained a reputation for explosive live shows in 2013—and their second EP, Farmalade (2/14), shows this band has no plan to slow down any time soon.
In addition to many of the mid-Atlantic music scene’s best and brightest, B Side Shuffle has shared stages with Keller Williams, Kung Fu, members of Umphrey’s McGee, Furthur, the Trey Anastasio band, Dangermuffin, the Revivalists, and Moon Taxi.
Slim Pickinz’ dynamic sound is forged from the assortment of musical backgrounds represented by its members. Long time musician and jam fan Cliff Tyler began picking with high school friend and bluegrass enthusiast David Bell immediately after David’s first banjo purchase. Shortly after, their first five piece bluegrass band was formed. After a short and productive period together, the band’s separation created an opportunity to create something new. Enter singer, songwriter and guitarist Jonathan Plume, long time musician with a great passion for classic rock and classic country. After a short time playing with Jonathan, Cliff shifted his attention from guitar to bass creating the classic Slim Pickinz lineup. 2010 saw several different folks providing lead breaks with the core members holding down the rest. During the summer of 2011 band friend Jason Blevins, was officially added to the group providing lead guitar and vocals. Besides being a fan of the cornhole, Jason’s guitar skills delve into the blues perspective adding yet another layer to an already original sound. A progressive mix of original music, traditional bluegrass, distinctive classic rock and classic country covers , and fervent audience engagement is the root of Slim Pickinz’ allure.
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Annie in the Water