Zappa Plays Zappa is a project started a decade ago by Dweezil Zappa, with the goal of performing the works of his late father Frank Zappa. This year they are featuring a complete performance of the 1975 album One Size Fits All, notable for the complex track “Inca Roads”. Dweezil has assembled a very talented group of young musicans, and it was amazing to hear how well the six piece band pulled it off. Along with the high level of musicianship, they also bring the humour and joy to the songs, something that is evident in much of Zappa’s work.
Before tackling the full album, the band warmed up the crowd with some favourites: “Montana”, “Baby Snakes”, and “I’m So Cute”. Dweezel commented on the fact that Frank released 85 albums in his lifetime, and it is quite a task choosing what to play.
When the album section was done the band continued with another half dozen or so songs from the Zappa catalog. Everyone cut loose during “Dancin’ Fool” with all of the Ballroom glitterballs and lights creating an instant (and ironic) disco. For the encore they played “I Am The Slime”, “Cosmik Debris” (Is that a real poncho, or is that some kind of Canadian poncho?), and “Muffin Man”.
Along with Dweezil’s masterful guitar playing, singer Ben Thomas nailed Frank’s famous baratone vocals, as well as adding guitar, horns, and even a duck noise maker. Drummer Ryan Brown was amazing, and deserving of the featured drum solo while the “power trio” (only Zappa, bassist Kurt Morgan, and Brown) blasted through an extended version of “Apostrophe”. Rounding out the band was Scheila Gonzalez (saxophone, flute, keyboards, vocals) and Chris Norton (keyboards, vocals).