October Milwaukee events evidence Frank Zappa’s continued relevance

Wade Vonasek

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the debut album of the Mothers of Invention, featuring Frank Zappa. And although it’s been nearly 23 years since Zappa’s death from prostate cancer, the musician continues to make his mark on the music world. From his pioneering unconventional work with the Mothers of Invention to his innovative solo work and classical compositions, Zappa inspired a vast array of musicians and artists.

Zappa was prolific during his career when it came to recording and releasing music. He left behind a substantial archive of studio and live material. Some of this material has been released since his death, including 2015’s Roxy — The Movie, which featured video from 1974’s Roxy & Elsewhere, and was much clamored for by die-hard fans.

This year has seen the release of more archival material, including Road Tapes, Venue #3, a live Mothers of Invention show from 1970 in Minneapolis; The Crux of the Biscuit, with outtakes and alternate mixes from 1974’s Apostrophe(‘); Frank Zappa for President, comprised of unreleased compositions with a somewhat political theme; and Zappatite — Frank Zappa’s Tastiest Tracks, a compilation of Zappa “hits” and fan favorites.

Another recent Zappa-focused creation — Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words — is a documentary by Thorsten Schütte. It premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and was released on DVD Sept. 27. The film details Zappa’s musical and political legacy, with archival footage culled from his 30-year career in entertainment. Schütte describes Eat That Question as “an entertaining encounter with the sonic avant-garde. The film bashes favorite Zappa targets and dashes a few myths about the man.”

Milwaukee experiences Frank Zappa’s “conceptual continuity” in October. For one week, Brew City becomes ground zero for all things Zappa, hosting shows by former Zappa and Mothers of Invention band members and projects, as well as Zappa’s son and musical ambassador Dweezil Zappa.



8 p.m. on Oct. 14 at Shank Hall in Milwaukee; $20; shankhall.com

Project/Object is the longest-running alumni-based Zappa tribute in the world. Back on the road for a brief run, the 2016 Project/Object tour features Zappa alumnus Ike Willis (vocals/guitar ’78–’88) and Don Preston (keys ’66–’74). The tour features material both men recorded with the Mothers of Invention and the Frank Zappa band, as well as a comprehensive sampling of classic Zappa and rare fan favorites.


Dweezil Zappa
Dweezil Zappa

7:30 p.m. on Oct. 11 at Turner Hall Ballroom in Milwaukee; $35; pabsttheater.org

Dweezil Zappa honors his father’s art and songcraft that helped change the landscape of music with 50 Years of Frank: Dweezil Zappa Plays Whatever the F@%k He Wants — The Cease and Desist Tour. Dweezil and his band create a unique evening with renditions of Zappa classics, including a healthy dose of Mothers of Invention-era compositions.


8 p.m. on Oct. 11 at Shank Hall in Milwaukee; $30; shankhall.com

Terry Bozzio
Terry Bozzio

Drummer/vocalist/composer Terry Bozzio did 26 albums with Frank Zappa and also has worked with Jeff Beck, Korn, Missing Persons, Mick Jagger, Tony Levin, Steve Vai and Quincy Jones. In addition to being a Grammy-winner, Bozzio was inducted into Modern Drummer magazine’s Hall of Fame and named by Rolling Stone as one of its Top Five Drummers of All Time.

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