#3991 – opus

went to karaoke tonight; only did one song (“mama said knock you out” by ll cool j), but one song was all that was needed. video forthcoming. i was in a pretty blah mood before karaoke, and though that lessened during karaoke i’m still in a pretty blah mood now. it’s not really over any one thing in particular, just a bunch of stuff getting to me recently i guess…

i’m waiting and waiting to be able to get tickets to see the who and the zappa plays zappa concerts in the fall. while the who are coming to baltimore, i kind of don’t want to see them here because:

  • it’s not exactly in the nicest part of town; as xxxantiyouxxx said: “you won’t see your car ever again”
  • the tickets are $100 for the virgin music festival, and while there’s maybe a half-dozen groups i’d really be interested in seeing, i’m not really interested in running around outside and would rather see the band at a dedicated concert performance

    they’re playing in philadelphia on november 25 (yay saturday road trip!), and tickets for that one go on sale on the 14th… so hopefully i’d be able to get a ticket when i get paid on the 15th.

    the zappa plays zappa concert is in dc, and that’s really my only chance to see it. that is, unless after i got off of work on october 27 to drive to atlantic city. even though it’s playing at my favorite casino EVAR, and i want to go back for some gambling. the problem is that i’d be getting off of work at 4 pm, and the concert’s at 8, but it’s a 3 hour 15 minute drive not counting traffic, so that’s probably not happening; looks like dc will be it. i really want to see how the concert works out – this interview has me intrigued:

    So where do you find musicians who can handle this stuff?

    DZ: We’ve actually assembled the band at this point. It was great to have Joe Travers, the “Vaultmeister” and Drummer in the core band, on hand to help plan and execute the auditions. We were both familiar with Frank’s “potential musician” criteria and applied those guidelines to our audition process. One of the most important guidelines was that keyboardists, percussionists and horn players definitely have to be able to read music.

    We were initially looking at music schools, checking referrals, and talking to friends. It was important to me to find young musicians. I really want younger audience members to see kids in their early 20’s playing Frank’s music and to be inspired to take things to a higher level themselves. I had estimated that we would probably get about 15 referrals total for musicians in various roles. I think it ended up being 17. The auditions were challenging to say the least. For example, the auditioning keyboardists had to be able to play “The Black Page” and “Inca Roads.” They were not given the music and they only had 3 days to learn both songs. We wanted them to transcribe it and play it the way they heard it. Obviously if they played wrong notes and rhythms we would be able to detect what they were really capable of instantaneously. Another reason for that was because we knew we had a limited amount of time for rehearsals and we needed to have players that were motivated and could diligently work on stuff on their own before the core band actually got in the same room together. You have to be familiar with “The Black Page” and “Inca Roads” to appreciate how difficult it is to learn to play those songs in such a short time.

    I was particularly impressed with the young keyboardist Aaron Arntz. He transcribed and played the music pretty accurately, but he seemed to be having so much fun doing it. To me that was a really good sign. The thrill of the challenge and the fun of reaching the goal is what I am really looking forward to. We had some other stand out players come through and obviously they were hired. The core band will consist of Joe Travers on Drums, Pete Griffin on Bass, Aaron Arntz on Keyboards & Vocals, Scheila Gonzales on Horns, Keyboards & Vocals, Billy Hulting on Melodic Percussion and Jamie Kime on Rhythm Guitar. I will be playing lead guitar and possibly do some vocals as well.

    We will have close to 3 months of rehearsals to learn about 30 songs. Frank usually rehearsed a band for at least 3 months. If it took him that long to be comfortable we probably would need double the amount, but it’s just not financially possible to do so.

    For me, the most difficult thing is that I am learning melodies on guitar from some songs whose melodies were not meant to be played on guitar. Ever. They were intended mostly for keyboards or melodic percussion. The melodies aren’t easy regardless of the instrument. I’m talking about compositions like “G-Spot Tornado,” “The Black Page,” and interludes in “St Alfonzo’s Pancake Breakfast” and “Inca Roads.” I actually gave myself a guitar makeover in the past year. I’ve devoted myself to studying and implementing many new guitar picking techniques as well as adding more musical theory elements to raise my whole level of musicianship. It was absolutely necessary for me to do this in order to play Frank’s music properly but also allow me to improvise in a more sophisticated way. It has been both tremendously challenging and rewarding at the same time.

    Are there any special guests that will be joining you?

    DZ: Yes, I’m pretty excited about it as well. I think the fans will be too. Let me put it into perspective for you. When this whole tour began to be realized we all felt that it was important to try to create the most exciting show possible. We wanted to be able to bring out musicians who were an integral part of Frank’s past touring bands. But not just for the sake of nostalgia. We wanted musicians who became known for their musical prowess and somehow played unique roles in the folklore of Frank’s music. That is why I am so thrilled to be able to share the stage with Steve Vai, Terry Bozzio and Napoleon Murphy Brock. They will all be part of the show on a nightly basis. I don’t want to give away any surprises but, let’s just say there will be a “fine selection” of signature tunes

    maybe i’d be able to use radio krud to my advantage to be able to get extra access to these performances? even just being able to take photos at the event would be pretty neat. hm… i wonder… oh well.