ZAPPANALE #17

 

"People who like Frank's music need to meet other people who like his music [annually]. I would like to have all these people be able to feel comfortable to be in one place. We could have multiple cover bands, and the Zappa Plays Zappa thing can close the night. It could just be our own Zappapalooza. I think this will go a long way toward unifying the fan base."

- DWEEZIL ZAPPA (GUITAR WORLD, AUGUST 2006)

 

This year we braved the pedal-by bitch-slaps of the denizens of Lübeck a little earlier than usual and arrived at the dusty festival grounds in Bad Doberan in good time to hear Corrie van Binsbergen's guitar-soloing-over-samples-&-backing-trax set (called "I Wasn't Talking" - An Answer To FZ's 'SUNPYG'). This included gems like Sexual Harassment In The Workplace and sounded not unlike Jazzprojekt's set of last year. Very nice, indeed. We were pitching tents in no time, and able to see the rest of the day's line-up. And also found time for a beer. Age from Berlin played prog-rock with a violin that was OK, but we'd come to spank some Frank, and thus it was better to hear FZLE with an Ike-alike vocalist knocking out Broken Hearts Are For Assholes and Teenage Prostitute, along with more traditional fare (Dirty Love, I'm The Slime, Flo Po, Son of Orange County...oh no, here comes that screaming sou-ind again). TriPod are, unsurprisingly, a three-piece band comprising drums, sax and 12-string bass. Interesting, but I made my excuses and Rushed backstage to chat to a Zappatista or threee. Well, mainly the lovely Annie Whitehead. I gave her an "I love FZ" tit-badge, which she wore throughout the band's set. Backstage we marvelled at the Glashäger beer posters which showed a balding guy in a chunky cream cardi wistfully staring at a seagull. I couldn't resist the urge to add a talk bubble in which to scrawl "My guts is screaming for a pint," on one. Advertising in Germany seems very odd indeed - not for them the use of glamour pusses favoured by the UK and US. Maybe it's to make the population feel good about themselves instead of continually striving to be some model of perfection that they'll never be. We could learn a lot from Lydia; it seems to work: the poster made me want a beer. I'd previously asked John Etheridge's manager whether his charge, together with keyboardist Steve Lodder, would be playing their great Sleep Dirt duet - which they duly did. Thanks a lot, Geoff. They opened with dry ice and Peaches, and ploughed on through their standard set (Grand Wazoo, Big Swifty, Let's Make The Boogers Turn Black...), with everyone taking a solo - sometimes all in the same song - which the audience seemed to very much appreciate. John has a pretty distinctive un-Frank guitar sound which always makes for an interesting listen, but it's Annie's 'bone solos that invariably catch the ear more - and in a better way than John's comedy vox. Apparently Daniel Rohr is hot shit in Germany, but I only half agree with that epithet - especially after he slaughtered The Lamb two year's ago. If he could do it again, he'd do it alles über Frank. Alarmingly. This year's Kraan/Guru Guru, Jane, kept me awake with their Genesissy sounds. The hot little bitches. And after that, I met Eric and Julie Slick's dad, Gary, who was chaperoning Paul Green's kids. He told us that some of Adrian Belew's gear had yet to arrive in GE, and so there was some concern about all of that. But I know this audience would be happy to see him no matter what affect the absence of his desired effects might have on his headlining performance on Sunday. Indeedy, nothing could wipe the smile from my sweaty boat this weekend. I said "Lydia."

 

 

Welcome to weird and wired Saturday. Before proceedings proper were some local bands, of which I liked the reggae/ska one what played Grateful Dead's Fire On The Mountain and Morrissey's The More You Ignore Me. When we quizzed the band's vocalist later, we were left confused. Was he from Trinidad or Toronto? We saw a glum looking Adrian arrive and decided it would not be a good idea to approach him just yet. So we had a beer instead. That cat sure looked b-lue, ho-ho. It wouldn't be the Zappanale without Jazzprojekt Hundehagen, would it? Amaretto Mick evidently requested they play Rat Tomago and Any Kind Of Pain. They opened with the first and went on to play all of the sacred three (adding the theme from Bonanza to Zoot Allures). Their main man made a brave fist of FZ's superb solo on Pain, but it would be hard for any mortal to top the original. Due to the non-arrival of Discus from tsunami-struck Indonesia, Kroner Circus came next. They started with Zoot and ended with Whippin' Post. Need I say more? Oh, okay: they slightly rearranged Muffin Man. I'd never really heard Soft Machine before (of the Canterbury scenesters, I was always a Caravan fan). But I was impressed by them. John Etheridge sounded quite a bit different playing these originals. And Hugh Hopper's bass formed a solid foundation for solos from John and saxophonist Theo Travis (the late Elton Deans replacement). Great to see these old guys playing for the love of it. Egon Kracht & The Troupe played Joe's entire Garage, but not in the overly dramatic manner of Sex Without Nails Bros a few years back. And they played Zomby Woof and other non-JG material as encores. What struck me most about them was their great drum and percussion work. It made me want to drink beer. Okay, as a longstanding lover of Ozzy-era Sabs and the mighty Zep, I knew I would enjoy Paul Green's School of Rock Music - its okay, Paul: you can put that 50 Euros away; I liked, liked it, yes I did  although it was a little disconcerting to hear a young glass-fingered lass asking us if we knew what she was talking about when she sang "Squeeze my lemon, till the juice runs down my leg" (mainly because I probably had less of a clue than her) during an excellent Travelling Riverside Blues. After alternating betwixt the not-too-obvious tunes of these two great 70s rock bands (okay, they were not denied David All-Star's famous Stairway, for which former pupil Eric Slick thumped the tubs as only he can: "What happened was they did so many encores, the kids were exhausted and cold, and that's when the crowd started screaming for a cover of 'Stairway to Heaven'. Since I'd played that many times growing up, I offered to sit in on drums, and it was a lot of fun."), they played a mammoth bunch of classic rock encores and went on for a goodly while longer than they probably should've. They dedicated two songs from Wish You Were Here (aptly? Neither was Crazy Diamond, so you decide) to Syd. Ooh yeah, ooh yeah - and the 4 year old girl who sang Paranoid and Rock And Roll was very cute, cute. Come on let's merry-go, merry-go, merry-go-round. Whose round? I’ll have another beer, thank you please.

 

 

The affable DOOT! twins (Vinnie & Millie Chillemi) had been aroond and aboot the site much, and it was good to see them onstage free from the confines of a Captain Beefheart cover band, fooling and improvising first thing Sunday morning. He said "Captain." Joined by the genial André Chumelli (of Project/Object and Akashic fame), they sound-checked with Chunga's and skilfully navigated their way through Filthy Hobbits, Willie The Fuckpump, Napkins (both Pink and Black), building to an impressive Third Stone From The Sun. They were interviewed by Arf TV afterwards, then whisked away by The Idiot and his lovely assistant, J-Roc, for a longer natter that will end up as an interview on these here pages just as soon as (meantime, check these piccies here). It's really good to see such enthusiasm from people who simply love making music. France's Les Polissons sounded good, nailing some tricky FZ moments, and rearranging others. A strong female vocalist, too. They paved the way for the return of the PGSORM, who were scheduled to play the rockin' FZ but included perfect interpretations of tricky tunes like Black Page and Night School  who said jazz flute was for little sissy boys? The young guitar god on the Black Page was reluctantly pushed forward by PG for his first big moment, and by the end of their set he was whooping it up Vai-stylee. They played a chunk of WOIIFTM (including the record-scratching orchestral interlude during Mother People) and an elongated Dont You Ever Wash That Thing? And I was so uncomfortable hearing a young girl singing Crew Slut, that I had to have a beer. Adrian Belew made his first appearance as special guest for King Kong and fluffed the words to City Of Tiny Lites. He said, "Wot d'ya want?" Ikarisches Ensemble played original material with glorious keys. I said "Capa-tin." He said "Lydia." Let's call the whole thing off. No way: it's time for Mr Adrian Belew's set proper. Outside of Keneally and Vai, he's one of the few whose career away from Frank has been truly apart and worthwhile. Stripped to a three piece with borrowed/missing effects, he was just unfassible (though his vox did get a little lost in the mix somewhere). Young Eric and Julie Slick (on drum 'n' bass) were amazing - I already knew Eric was, but the barefoot Contessa was equally impressive. Adrian is rightly proud of this current Power Trio - saying "Gee, I wish I could do that. Don't you wish you could do that?" after ES's audacious drum solo. Only 19 and he knows how to. What more can I say about this elixir? How did Julie manage to replicate Tony Levin's stick on her fretted bass throughout Elephant Talk? How good was the lone rhino on The Lone Rhinoceros? Shame they were unable to play Matchless Man due to the absence of Ade's backward guitar gizmo. We had noted backstage that Adrian walks a little like Charlie Chaplin. On stage, he struts like a guitar hero. I guess he's a little like a singer who stammers when speaking. It wouldn't be the Zappanale without Jim Cohen, would it? And the M of Cees set to with bringing things to a thrilling conclusion. He even allowed a few reprobates up on stage to shake maracas at the back as most of the real musicians fiddled and smirked their way through Pound For A Brown, Willie The Pimp, Dumb All Over, Muffin Man (at which point, they were joined by AB), Packard Goose and more. Another great event, another bunch of words. Life is good. And so am I. No more beers till next year, promise. As ever, thanks to Wolfhard, Thomas Yellowshark and Amaretto for their hospitality and friendship.

 

© 2006 A Pirate Ship Booger Production

 

Home                     News                     Other Diaries                   Reviews