Taking on the music of somebody as iconic as Frank Zappa is gutsy — even if it’s his oldest son, Dweezil, doing it with his Zappa Plays Zappa retinue.
But as the group enters its fourth year of touring, Zappa says that he’s always been confident it would go over well with even his dad’s most ardent and exacting fans. “I was never concerned about the fans liking what we were going to do,” Zappa, 39, explains, “ ’cause I knew the dedication we were gonna put into it would come across on stage and people would appreciate it.
“And what we’re starting to see, which I never really took into account, is people are actually liking the individuals in this band and the way this band plays music. So not only do they like Frank’s music, they like this band.”
The younger Zappa notes that his group “has actually been together now as a unit longer than a lot of incarnations of some of Frank’s bands” — it even won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance earlier this year. And while Zappa Plays Zappa has been joined by Frank Zappa alumni such as Steve Vai, Terry Bozzi, Napoleon Murphy Brock and Ray White, Dweezil is keeping the guests at bay more often in order to put the spotlight on the current batch of players.
“Frank had different bands and wrote music that was geared towards the personalities of the instrumentalists in those bands and what they could pull off,” Zappa says. “This band is pretty well capable of playing a lot of different kinds of stuff. There’s a special level of comfort, and it comes across in the music.
“And we try hard every time that we go back out to make more improvements and learn more material. We don’t just sit back and say, ‘Well, we’ve done enough ...’ ”
Zappa Plays Zappa performs at 8 p.m. Thursday (July 9) at Sound Board in the MotorCity Casino Hotel, 2901 Grand River Blvd., Detroit. Tickets are $44 and $41. Call (866) 782-9633 or visit www.motorcitycasino.com.
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