Well. Well...the festivities started even earlier for me and my cohorts this year when we visited Amaretto Mick, who happily escorted us around his home city of Hamburg and to St Katharinen’s Church where we met many other friends (including the mighty Gamma) to witness the Bogus Pomp Low Budget Semi-Acoustic Orchestra. It was truly a wondrous day (saw the sleazy Kaiserkeller and the ‘under construction’ Beatles-Platz) and, as expected, the band played great. But sadly the acoustics of the bodacious basilica made the sound not so great. Bach apparently played the church’s organ when he was sixteen and now it’s in need of some repairs. So it was all in a good cause and we happily boosted the profits by buying bottles of German beer. A little blasphemious, maybe? Mors! Mors! What you gonna do when the well runs dry? Well, well. The powerful Pomp’s set got off to a magnificent start with Blessed Relief – a song that surprisingly we’d hear a number of times in the next few days. But rather that than a dozen Cosmik Debrises, right? Six Bach pieces were played solo on the organ by Gabriele Hufnagel, who played like a bird released on a jazzy improv with BP – one of many highlights…Overture To A Holiday In Berlin…an instrumental Mom & DadHoliday In Berlin, Full-Blown with Jerry Outlaw playing a masterful solo on an Ovation worthy of one. And then came snappy Napi to sing The Idiot Bastard Son with updated lyrics. I’d seen him in the porch minutes before and commented on what a sharp dressed man he was. Always smiling; always very professional. Now, if I thought the first set was good, how about a second kicking off with Amnerika and Sleep Dirt – initially I didn’t realise that the main solo was being played by Rick Olson, as he’d sat behind his keyboards and was out of view. These pieces were followed by a vibe-piloted Uncle Meat then Black Napkins. Napi returned for Oh No! and Uncle Remus, the band were introduced, and they ran through a great Tom Trapp arranged Absolutely Free Medley. And how about Sofa and Strictly Genteel for an ending, with Little House/King Kong as an encore? I couldn’t wait to hear them more clearly in Bad Doberan. Bwana-ma-coo-bah. NDR filmed the event and it was supposedly televised the next night. I'd love to see that on DVD so as to fully appreciate the Bogus sound.




And so, to Molli-Land. Princess Helen got thrown off the train before we hit Rostock (wrong ticket), but we were reunited later when she then had the Amazing Mr Bickerton in tow. While guarding our baggage outside Lidl’s, I met the crew for a French documentary now in production examining Frank’s legacy. Nice guys – so why did I agree to be a talking head for it!? The Fab 3 were taken to the Kamp Theater ‘welcome party’ in an eight-seater built for more. Magdalena Dave blasted Regyptian Strut as me and Uncle Ian hid in the boot. Two street bands played (Burnin! Blankets and Tonlast) and I snuck in to see a bit of Fritz Raus’s all-German lecture – where me and the dynamic Thomas Reinicke were told to shush. So I wept in the box office, Dawn. I left when Fritz’s acoustical guitarist started playing some Brooce. The rest of the night is a bit of a blurp, I’m afraid. But I know it was all good fun among friends, and you don’t need to remember the details. Shiny happy people, followed by very rapid eye movement. Nuff said.


Bogus Pomp Low Budget Semi-Acoustic Orchestra




There seemed to be more than ever wasps at the Galopprennbahn this year, which had Gamma conducting experiments on them. J-Roc got stung on the elby-bone by one of the big man's 'pets'. Great teeth of Cissoko: it’s the Anti-Aggressive Action Band featuring front man, Stephen Murphy Brock, on teeny weeny little micro-sax and percussion, Kilissa Gonzalez on sax and keyboards, outlaw Jerry Kime on guitar, Professor Alex Griffin on bass, Mark ‘Traps’ Travers on the, er, traps, and special guest Annemarie K. Raymondwhite on violin. They started with a sax mad bit of discordantness, then clattered into Tell Me You Love Me and a great Chunga’s with sax, guitar and violin solos. Some funky improv followed, then 20 Small Cigars, We Are Not Alone and a crowd fully behind them. Stephen reprised his mad dancing for Electricity (available on last year’s CD) and amended the final lyrics for Carolina to “It might seem strange to Gail and Dweez: Zappanale hard-core ecstasy.” Ooh no: cease and desist ye titters, madam. Next up, the cool Wrong Object flew into their klezmer Eat That Question/Honeypump Riff opener and followed up with some by now familiar pieces of their own (like Wet Weather Wet and Strangler Fig – the latter one of the five pieces for which Frank’s nephew, Stanley Jason Zappa, joined them on tenor saxamaphone with his musical partner, Nick Skrowaczewksi, on percussion). They also knocked-off the likes of five-Five-FIVE! and Filthy Habits, and their great drummer, Laurent Delchambre, also got to do an interesting solo during their set. I later spotted saxophonist Fred Delplancq, but didn’t recognize him with his shoes on. He too performed a wicked solo during a new TWO piece, the name of which I didn’t catch (sorry, Michel). The Paul Green School of Rock Music wasted no time in getting special guest Denny Walley out for their second number, Willie The Pimp (great li’l bass-boy on this one).  Denny remained on stage for several numbers (including a storming Moonlight On Vermont), but had sadly left them for It Just Might Be A One-Shot Deal, which thus saw one of the kids assume the steel finger (it was rigid and stiff) to emulate Sneaky Pete’s ace solo. But he was back for City Of Tiny Lites and Nowadays A Woman's Gotta Hit A Man. And then came the big reunion with Napi for some Advance Romance. I’m not sure if Napoleon was trying to make a particular point when he gave his sales pitch for the ZPZ DVD but, ever the pro, backstage he would not be drawn on questions about a Zappa family rift: "If they pay me, I'll play for them - that's what I do." And doesn’t he do it well? Backstage, Paul Green kept making overtures to J-Roc, tenderly kissing him on the back of the neck whenever he came near. This practice continued and spread over the next few days. What a love-fest this turned out to be. Indukti from Poland played next, but I was eager to again see (and hear) Bogus Pomp. And they didn’t disappoint. Playing many of the numbers performed in Hamburg, they completely blew my hat off when they skillfully navigated their way through Sinister Footwear, Mo’s Vacation and Clownz On Velvet. Good God! Still reeling from the onslaught, I’m sure I heard Electric Orange unexpectedly take a stab at The Torture Never Stops and Dirty Love before retiring. I always thought Friday would be the best day musically this year, and I don’t think I was wrong. But there were still some great surprises ahead…




The sight of a weasel running around the tents and under the caravans on Saturday morning was atypical. I assumed it was a family pet as three folk gave chase after it around the racetrack. But apparently they just wanted to catch it, like Gamma with his wasps. It would have ripped their flesh, I'm sure, so just as well they didn't achieve their aim. Panzerballet were first on stage today and were incredibly tight. I’m sure I heard extracts from Sleep Dirt, Sinister Footwear, Oh No!, Tiny Lites and America Drinks, but they pretty much made them their own and their set was largely complex jazz and metal originals. Like Paul Green’s joke about the Polish Zappa tribute band. No surrender. Poet, saxophonist and flautist Elliott Levin was next on, and this was a different kettle of fish: “free improvised” music, which actually went somewhere. Elliott toured for many years with Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes, but more recently showed up on Don Preston's Akashic Ensemble’s The Inner Realities Of Evolution CD. A bit of a leap, then. And what a thoroughly nice chap, when I got a chance to meet him later. He played in London just before the festival, so a great shame that I didn’t know beforehand. Parisian collective, the Delicious Band Research Kitchen, started with a great piano solo medley that included Village Of The Sun. Their set wasn’t as ‘mainstream’ as they feared – Evelyn, A Modified Dog followed Dickie’s Such An Asshole – and was muchly enhanced by the star at the centre of our solar system. Andreas Rausch made a little speech then…in the Arf tent, on his first-rate Zappaesk comic book. Such a quiet, dignified soul. Hopefully, with Ms Pinky’s help, he’ll have it translated into English one day. The Low Budget Research Kitchen from the land of the golden footed spot-kick missing fool, though, were the day’s highlight for me. They tend to play long instrumental medleys of familiar tunes, substantially rearranged. Before Zappanale, drummer Tony Carbone told they told me they needed a female vocalist for a couple of songs, so I put them in touch with Dr Dot. And it looked like it was gonna happen until Dot had to pull out from attending. But she sent her pal, Debutante Daisy, to be their special guest. She sang I’m The Slime and Montana and, lo, there was much rejoicing and a beaming Napoleon at the side of the stage. Next was Ben Watson’s quiz. He said he’d made it a little simpler this year. Aided by Gamma and daughter Iris (who recited Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky), I felt an overwhelming urge to enter under an assumed name. The Cosmic Debris Band’s ‘Zappa Circus’ was kinda odd. They had a large very gentleman and cute contemporary dance lady on stage with them. The grocer told me what they did with bread. Very different from how I remember them at #13. I was visiting God’s mead stall when they played; I felt that would help me better appreciate Paul Green’s kids playing the music of Yes. It worked – though I managed to miss Alamaailman Vasarat completely, who “tore the bloody house down” according to the flightless Robin Jones. Oh, Finland, Finland, Finland - the country where I quite want to be.


Stanley Jason Zappa & The Idiot




Having spent first light snoozing in a caravan with Gamma, I got up for an early morning glory squirt to be accosted by three young coves from the catering crew saying they needed a fourth player for a game of table tennis. So there I was at the crack of sparrows playing wiff-waff backstage with three German punks listening to The Vibrators. Kind of surreal. Both matches were close, but I and my partner lost them both. Me then decamped back to my tent with faithful Uncle Ian, who later recorded my snores on his mobile. Bastard. UZVA followed a similar path to yesterday’s Panzerballet, but were a little more my cup of Darjeeling: not so intense and more melodic. From the first day, the members of Jazzprojekt Hundehagen were in evidence and are now very much a loved and respected part of Zappanale. Would they be giving us another surprise like last year – another Mahavishnu set? Guitarist Michael Käckenmeister told me that that stuff was too hard, but they did start with a McLaughlin number. They then made that vital transformation and the rest was traditional Zappa fare (Dirty Love, I’m The Slime, Muffin Man, etc.), which was kind of unexpected. As was Michael’s Mrs Mop outfit and the wigs and bathrobes worn by the other members. They certainly seemed to be having a lot of fun up there. Italy’s Fattore Zeta followed a similar path to yesterday’s LBRK, hovering somewhere between jazz and Latin music. With their horns of many colours, they performed Stolen Moments, Little Umbrellas and (surely a first for this festival?) Planet Of My Dreams, which had me bulging at the seams. Jeans for the genies, dresses for the dreamies, fighting for a place in the front row: The New Texture Pantonal Fellowship featuring Stanley Zappa came next, following a similar path to yesterday’s Elliott Levin. A real reed-blowers convention, oh my. I had a good chat with Stanley beforehand. He’s a pretty funny guy, who has a day job at Bovine University. He was talked into attending Zappanale by the silver tongued Deville from Wrong Object (with whom he guested on Friday), but was apprehensive about his own set ("hopefully it won't be one of those situations where it's more rewarding for me than for the musicians or audience - though I can't imagine how it will be anything but that," he told Peter van Laarhoven of United Mutations). A groovy disbeliever, all dressed in white so nobody sees him. Ben announced the winners of yesterday’s competition after, and first place was shared by Amaretto Mick Zeuner, Mr Bob Head (all smiles, following his recent Vault visit) and Joe Schmoe (“WAAAAAAAAH...! That's me! That's me! Oh...”). Seems Princess Helen’s entry got misplaced. As Mick had retreated back to the country, it was down to Bob and me to dance-off for first prize. The performance is poor; watch the audience laugh as my head hits the floor. But happily little Iris selected ‘Joe’ as the winner (helped by the fact that I’d been playing with her earlier, no doubt). Bob and I swapped our prizes anywho. A return to Uncle Frankie with the excellent Finnish Zappa Tribute Band, containing members of UZVA. A busy day for some of these boys, who also helped Stanley out. I think this band was the biggest surprise for most of us, and once again the Arfs gauged a great ‘headline’ band. The set was chock-full of crowd pleasers, performed in such a way as to bring most to their knees. Then it was the usual ‘goodbye session’, with as many musicians as possible. And Paul Green asked me and J-Roc to join in as he wanted about 50 folk singing A Little Green Rosetta. Gad, I didn’t expect him to announce me and pass me the mike to lead it off though. Rather than inflict my dulcet tones on the masses, I opted to blow my harmonica for a wee while. Denny jammed with the still be-skirted Michael Käckenmeister. Mr Green joined in, and it was great fun to be up there – especially being hugged by Denny and the lovely Janet “the Planet” centre stage when it was all over. Like a real rock star, I threw my harmonica into the crowd. The night continued on backstage, but me and John spent most of it with some Paul Green kids and the proudly obnoxious Blurp! boys out under the stars. Jamming.


Denny Walley and Janet “the Planet” with The Idiot




The French film crew insisted on filming me, couldn’t avoid it. As they had done for the other interviewees, they asked me to sing some Frank. But like last night, I refused: Julie Sexburger’s the only one who has to suffer that. Anyway, I talked rubbish for the camera and you may get to see a snippet in the eventual DVD, slated for release on the 20th anniversary of FZ’s death. Tents unpitched, sleeping bags furled, we got a bus into town (only rode Molli the once this weekend) for a cuppa in the wasp-shop before making the long journey home. All in all, another marvellous festival – especially musically, I think. Yes, it was more varied than ever this year. Thanks as always go to my two most excellent companions, Uncle Ian and Canadian John from London. And of course to all the other friends – both old and new: the list is getting longer and longer and it’s just too much to mention them all by name. But they know who they are. And I look forward to seeing them all again next year (if not before) for the BIG ONE.


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