Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dweezil Zappa Offers a Fitting Tribute to his Brilliant Dad

By Skip Sheffield

Photos by Michael Gora

For those of us not lucky enough to have seen Frank Zappa and his bizarre musical group the Mothers of Invention live, we have Dweezil Zappa, Frank’s son, carrying the torch for his dad with his Zappa Plays Zappa show, which played Mizner Park Amphitheater this past Saturday.
Zappa was the opening act for the renowned progressive rock-jazz group Return to Forever, but for this musician, Zappa was the main attraction.
The music of Frank Zappa is very complex, often funny and unpredictable Dweezil Zappa spent an entire year listening and playing along with his father’s recordings to perfect his sound.
Zappa recruited a first rate band to fill out the myriad sound landscape. They include Scheila Gonzalez on sax, flute and vocals; Pete Griffin, bass, Billy Hultin, marimba and percussion, Jamie Kime, guitar, Joe Travers, drums and vocals and Chris Norton, keyboards and vocals.
Dweezil Zappa doesn’t sing and he didn’t do much talking either. He left that up to his lead vocalist, Ben Thomas, who has a gregarious, engaging stage presence.
For me the highlight of Zappa’s set was when he invited RTF pianist Chick Corea onstage, and the two traded licks on “King Kong.” It was a virtuoso experience. As good as Return To Forever is (especially with special gust violinist Jean-Luc Ponty), their music is not as compelling, exciting or purely entertaining as Zappa’s.

Forthcoming Mizner Park Amphitheater events are a “Kingdom Call” fund-raiser at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 8; the 2011 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 22 and Rick Springfield and Jack Wager in concert at 8 p.m. Nov. 4. Tickets for that Live Nation event are $38.50-$98.50.

“Cloud 9” Opens Theater Season at FAU

Florida Atlantic University opens a new theater season with Caryl Churchill’s gender-bending satirical play, “Cloud 9,” opening Friday, Sept 23 and running through Sunday Oct. 2 in the Studio One Theatre.
“Cloud 9” is set in colonial Africa in Victorian times and roughly 100 years later in London circa 1979. The same actors appear in each act, but in different roles and in some cases different gender. For the actors only 25 years have passes, further compounding the surreal aspects of the play.
Director Desmond Gallant cautions this is adult stuff, with rough language, sexual references and general hanky-panky, and it is recommended only for those 16 and older.
Tickets are $20 general admission, $12 FAU students, and $16 for staff and alumni. Call 800-564-9539.