THIRD ZAPPATEERS FESTIVAL, NIJMEGEN, HOLLAND, 14-15 MARCH 2008

 

Travelling to the festival, we were bemused by the news story of a Kansas woman who spent two years on her boyfriend's toilet - so long that by the time he called emergency services her skin had grown around the seat, which had to be prised off of the toilet and then surgically removed from the women at the local hospital. Seems the boyfriend took her food and water every day, and asked her to come out of the bathroom. But her reply was always, “Maybe tomorrow”. That, and the paging of a Mister Schittpinch at Stansted airport, set the mood for a weekend of silliness. The journey to Nijmegen was amazingly uncomplicated and without problem – we arrived very early and found time to annoy the curmudgeonly locals simply by being in the centre of their town. Once ensconced in Het Buitencentrum, however, all was well - even the tiniest beer glasses in the world (beautifully topped-up by the Maggie Gyllenhaal-esque Bow Tie Dad’s daughter) couldn’t upset us, and it was great to meet so many familiar friendly faces. Just before the music started, we went for a stroll down in de dew and came across this old chapel surrounded by trees that had handkerchiefs and various undergarments pegged to their branches: Frank's in there and I don't care - put it in the box, put it in the box. Kinda spooky, but somehow apt. To celebrate, we painted up our hair: light blue for Uncle Ian; dark pink for J-Roc; and gold for this Idiot.

 

 

First band on was The FoolZ, who had a new drummer as well as the great female violinist, Annemarieke Schoonderwaldt, who has also played with Sheik Yerbouti and appears on 20 Extraordinary Renditions (Cordelia Records, CD043) with DOOT! They opened by backing Bow Tie Dad Sven on a specially re-written Uncle Remus. Lead guitarist Lex and bassist Pedro started the band’s first set on acoustic axes, and for me this was the best part of their marathon appearance – IBS, Blessed Relief, Let’s Make The Water Turn Black and a medley of Sleep Dirt and Black Napkins being particular highlights. They played for such a long time that they ended up repeating some songs, but that was no problem: they were much fun to watch, and it was good to see Remco taking more guitar solos and lead vox than I recall him taking at Bradford-on-Avon – but then there’s some say Bazbo sang Bobby Brown with them there, but I don’t remember that. Anyway, a great start to a great festival. We’d met Blurp! during our evening meal, and they seemed very nice young coves who’d previously played Brit-pop covers but had been persuaded by Tim Billybob Beerbitch Cohen to learn early MOI material and freak everyone out. Tim asked me to come on stage during Help, I’m A Rock, so I recited Andrew Norris’s ‘idiot bastard son of a fascist son-of-a-bitch’ poem (for which the boys later kindly praised by diction. Not sure why they were laughing when they said it, though!). They were on at just the right time, and I think everyone really appreciated them. Hearing stuff like Groupie Bang Bang and WPLJ seemed so right in our beered-up state. We thought they’d finished and went to bed relatively early. But apparently they continued and played past midnight – incurring the wrath of the local rozzers. Because of the silly glasses, we committed the cardinal sin of mixing grape with grain and slept through the ensuing kafuffle…and next morning the red wine had done it’s stuff, meaning I couldn’t join the Brit team for early fun and games (the Dutch won les jeux des balloons, it transpired). First band on Saturday was local heroes, Cuccurullo Brillo Brullo, with a special guest on sax (I keep hearing the Rev Lovejoy say “Bloody Gums Murphy”, but it was actually none other than Jeff Hollie, who played tenor sax on Joe’s Garage and also appeared on Ike’s Should’a Gone Before I Left). A fairly run-of-the-mill set ensued, though Norwegian Jim and a very reggae-fied Lucille ensured it wasn’t too predictable. The Muzquitos - a quintet with violin, bongos, a big sax and FZ song t-shirts - were another great surprise, playing Doreen, Deseri, Daddy Daddy Daddy and some songs that didn’t even start with a ‘D’, like King Kong with lyrics and a piece I’m calling Music Is The Best that was a bunch of FZ quotes set to muziq. I really enjoyed their set, and you too can hear what they sounded like at www.muzquitos.nl/zappa.Twas wunnerful to see the Wrong Object again, and it seems it’ll be much sooner before I see them again: they’ve been asked to play Zappanale this year. Whoopee! They are a fine bunch of musicians and, with no disrespect to those who played before him, Laurent Delchambre was the best tub-thumper I saw all weekend. The focus of the band, though, is very much on the brass section, here augmented by Frank vand der Koiij on soprano saxamaphone. Starting with their klezmer version of Eat That Question (which incorporates Michel Delville’s sprightly Honeypump Riff). They played mainly FZ, but did deviate a little, slotting in their own Strangler Fig and having me come up for some poetry (backed by Michel, I read slightly amended lyrics to Bow Wow Wow’s King Kong and the good Captain’s Apes Ma, ending with a reference to the above-mentioned Kansas City crazy little woman).

 

 

Before the festival, I was slightly surprised to not see the FoolZ and Wrong Object headlining their respective nights. But in practice, the order worked really well. Uncle Meat reminded me a little of Team Zappa at last year’s Zappanale: they really belted out songs like Magic Fingers, I’m The Slime, Cosmic Debris and Big Leg Emma, but also displayed a lighter touch when performing Evelyn, A Modified Dog (in both Dutch and English, with the help of their besuited special guest). Yes, they had a seriously horny horn section. And Jack Black on vox. Once again I went to bed with a smile on my face, exhausted. No, I didn’t hear the fire alarm. Three other things that surprised me about the festival: (i) no t-shirts on sale (the organisers had special ones, but it seems there were too many left over from ZFUK to even think of doing it again this year); (ii) unsold tickets (seems a certain ‘Teer neglected to email every registered member); and (iii) the size of those fucking beer glasses! But it was a great event, and I take my oven mitt off to Bazbo and (especially) Audrey. Nice one. Let’s do it again somewhere different next year fer sure.
 

 

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