Posted by: Tony – Jan 21, 2010
Dweezil Zappa inspired many of his father Frank's songs. Dweezil used to go on tour with his dad and was even incorporated into studio recordings decades ago. On January 14, he and a talented ensemble of musicians brought his father's compositions to RVA for the Zappa Plays Zappa tour.
Although Frank's music satirizes the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, the message of his political and media commentary is more powerful than ever. No lyrics need be changed - the satire is now in the headlines. When the percussionist rapped "Dumb All Over", a critique of televangelism and military conquest based on books of religion, it was remarkably poignant, with Pat Robertson's comments in recent memory, as well as the mass media itself becoming more of a monster than just the slime Frank sang about. Some of my favorite songs of the evening were "Montana", "Echidna's Arf (Of You)", "What's New in Baltimore", "Yellow Snow", "Peaches En Regalia", and "Muffin Man". Dweezil got to do quite a bit of stunt guitar and the band and vocalists played a great set.
When I first came to Richmond, trips to Tower Records were routine. On one such trip I decided I needed to start listening to Frank Zappa. I picked up two greatest hits albums with career-spanning tracks on them to get an idea of which era I wanted to pursue first. A friend of mine living on Floyd was using a living room as his bedroom, and the previous tenant had done a full-wall Zappa mural. The images that were on the wall were of the cover of Strictly Commercial, and the Ralph Steadman-drawn Have I Offended Someone. I spent several afternoons taking pictures for photography assignments, getting to know the Fan, and Zappa was my soundtrack. I never thought I'd take pictures of his son at what was then a derelict building down by the canal.
Pictures and Words: Todd Raviotta
Many Thanks EQ PRODUKTIONS, The Hat Factory, John Reinhold and Ian M. Graham.