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September 20, 2010

After Zappalooza, fans share best Frank Zappa memories

zappa%20bust.jpgOn Sunday, September 19 was officially declared Frank Zappa day in Baltimore. City officials, fans, and family of the misanthropic rocker gathered at Southeast Anchor Branch Library for a day of celebration that included the unveiling of a bust, a Q&A with his widow, and a performance by cover band Zappa Plays Zappa.

In light of the events, we asked readers, some of whom have been fans since their teens, to write in their favorite memories:

"My first Zappa show was Halloween 1977 at the Palladium in New York City. Still one of the greatest concerts I've ever seen. "Baby Snakes" was being filmed. I was a fan before then but that blew me away I remained a big fan ever since.  I remember the day he died. I was in North Carolina driving around listening to a talk radio show. The host talked about how when he came in that morning the people in his office were all upset. So this guy who knew nothing about Frank Zappa beyond "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" opened his lines to Zappa fans. By the end of the show the host was dumbstruck about Zappa's career, orchestral work and other accomplishments. He kept repeating "Why didn't anybody know about all this?" wrote Brad Winters

 "First took a chance on a Mothers album when I was 15. Hated it. Revisited it about a year later and played "Absolutely Free" about 10 times in a row. Went out and bought both "Freak Out" and "Lumpy Gravy." Have been a fan ever since," wrote Bob Caldwell  

 "First saw Frank Zappa on the Steve Allen show when I was 13. Went out and bought the "Mothermania" album, the perfect introduction. It made me a lifelong fan. Zappa was my real introduction to the world of music, people like Eric Dolphy, Edgard Varese and many others that were new to me," wrote James Garner

"I saw him twice in Germany. I actually got him to sign a record at the Frankfurt gig, and it was a record that Reprise released without his permission. He was totally cool about signing it, although he did give me a little grief (I was only 17). I kind of lost interest in his non-early-Mothers music in the 80s (still play the early records from time to time), although I always respected his freedom of expression," wrote commenter Volker

"My brother, me, and a couple other guys went down the Inner Harbor one Saturday night sometime in the early 80's before we were going out to Painters Mill to See Zappa in concert. While standing in line, Frank comes walking by me wearing a wild purple jacket, yellow pants and bright, ruby red, platform shoes. He was very cool about the whole thing and even made mention of us on stage the next night. It was a true highlight because my brother and I are huge Zappa fans," wrote Hank 

"I first saw him at the Felt Forum in NYC on Hallloween night 1974. Every member of the band was a virtuoso and the music was mind-bogglingly complex, blending jazz, shimmering progressive rock, classical...and satirical humor!!! I saw the same band a week later at the Capitol Theater and their set and vibe was very different. Each Zappa concert I went to was a unique event with different songs, musicians, and themes. 

"And he was a great guitarist, as influential as Santana and Hendrix and Clapton and others of that time. Dweezil has really taken it on to a new level. The Zappa Plays Zappa band really floored me at the celebration in Baltimore,"wrote Doug S. 

For more coverage of Sunday's event, read reporter Chris Kaltenbach's front-page story.

Ed. note: comments have been edited for length and grammar.


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Posted by Erik Maza at 11:58 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Local music


My first experience with the true sense of Zappa's humor was listening to one of his early albums in the 70's, and thinking, he should just shut up and play the guitar. I flipped the album over and what did I find? 'Shut Up and Play the Guitar, I, II and III. That, is what I call, 'getting Zapped'.

The first Zappa Day went well beyond my expectations. The music was phenominal, the crows was receptive and the fans were in their glory. I was told by some of the older guys that our younger generation is now responsible for keeping this alive.
An annual Zappa Day event would help.

And can we get the mayor back to listen to a rock band and a few thousand screaming Baltimoreans shout "Ram it, ram it, ram it, ram it up your poop chute"

Sheila Dixon proclaimed August 9, 2007 and December 21, 2009 as Frank Zappa Day(s)... So I guess there are now technically three...

Have you heard of Project/Object? Ike Willis and Ray White are part of P/O! They just released their tour dates! I wish I could of attended Zappa Day in Baltimore, but if you want to hear Zappa music performed check out their site.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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