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Saturday, 22 March 2014

Dweezil Zappa Shelving 'Roxy' In Favor Of Experiencing Hendrix


WATERBURY — You grow up with high expectations when your dad — a wacky but monumentally respected international musical star — lists your religion on your birth certificate as “musician.”
But today, at age 44, Dweezil Zappa is living the destiny his father Frank pinned on him so many years ago, carrying on the Zappa legacy in a stellar tribute ensemble while at the same time passing on some of his more spiritual wisdom about music and guitar playing to enthralled followers who eagerly sign up to take his pre-concert master classes.
Zappa recently held one of those classes — he says one of the largest he’s ever presented — last winter at the Ridgefield Playhouse where he was appearing on a tour promoting one of his father’s most beloved or notorious albums (depending on who you talk to), Roxy & Elsewhere.
But this spring, Zappa is shelving his Zappa Plays Zappa tour that recreates the Roxy platter from front to back, in favor of playing another mystical and misunderstood guitar genius’ material. He is currently appearing as part of the collection of guitar masters headlining the Experience Hendrix Tour, which jams into the Waterbury Palace Theater March 29.
For the second time, Zappa has been invited to appear alongside fellow Hendrix devotees including Jimi Hendrix Experience bassist Billy Cox, Bootsy Collins, and fellow guitarists Buddy Guy, Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Brad Whitford of Aerosmith, Eric Johnson, Doyle Bramhall II, Chris Layton, Eric Gales, Ana Popovic, Henri Brown, Dani Robinson, Stan Skibby, and Quinn Sullivan.
Having primarily heard the music his father was working on or listening to at home while growing up, Zappa eventually began discovering new sounds on the radio. Besides his father’s music he began listening to the Beatles, Queen, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, The Who and of course, Hendrix.
According to his bio, the younger Zappa’s ear was attracted to the trailblazing guitar styles of Edward Van Halen and Randy Rhoads. And he listened to their records for hours on end trying to figure out a way to translate what he was hearing in his head to his fingers at the other end of the guitar.
Along the way, he had opportunities to ask his dad for some help.
“I remember asking Frank to help me figure out the song ‘Revelation/Mother Earth’ from Blizzard Of Oz. I really didn’t know anything about chords and in that song Randy Rhoads was using classical music elements that were really new to rock guitar at the time. Frank helped me learn the finger picking intro.”
To gain more fundamental knowledge of technique and scales Dweezil Zappa was fortunate to have some assistance from one of the musicians in his father’s band at that time, another Experience Hendrix alumni, Steve Vai.
Years later, Zappa welcomed Vai on his first ever Zappa Plays Zappa tour featuring a brand new band recreating and reimagining the vast catalog of Frank Zappa material.

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