You guys really got it right with your August issue. As a long-time Zappa fan, it was great to see Dweezil and Vai on your cover. The ZPZ tour this spring/summer has, unfortunately, been a well-kept secret outside of Zappa land. So for you to shine your influential spotlight on this incredible band and project is much appreciated. I saw the band in Chicago, and they blew the roof off the auditorium. There’s no tighter unit around today, and DZ and Steve Vai were just sick! The issue also got me to turn on Guitar Player TV for the first time, and there’s more up there to help my playing than I could possibly handle. What a great idea!
Dave Beard, Chicago, IL
It’s great to see DZ taking on the challenge of keeping FZ’s music alive. If anyone needs a yearly fix of Frank, there is a group of talented musicians that participates in an annual Frankfest here in St. Louis. Each year, we pick a handful of songs and spend the year charting them and practicing. Then, usually in June, there’s a big party. This year, we tackled “Black Napkins,” “Montana,” “Blessed Relief,” “Tell Me You Love Me” (damn, that’s a hard one!), and standards such as “Road Ladies” and “Love of My Life.” The challenge is daunting, and the reward is amazing. Over the years, we’ve introduced several accomplished talents to the wonders of FZ, and, each year, I’m amazed at the talent. For more information, check out http://home.earthlink.net/~iaudio/frank.htm. Everyone is invited!
Rick Brown, St. Louis, MO
It’s nice that Dweezil has finally gotten around to doing something like this, but I’m disappointed in his general criticism of other Zappa tributes. Maybe there are ones like he described, but the ones I’ve seen—Project/Object, Ed Palermo’s Big Band, Banned from Utopia—are fantastic. Any of the people in these bands could easily have made it into Frank’s band were he still with us. I’ve seen ex-Zappa band members guest with them—among them Mike Keneally, Don Preston, Ike Willis, and even Napoleon Murphy Brock. Dweezil’s assertion that these bands do not play Frank’s music accurately is just plain sour grapes, as I’m sure even he doesn’t play Frank’s solos note-for-note. Besides, Frank always radically re-orchestrated his music to fit each band lineup. So what is “accurate?”
Jeff Day, Via Internet
I was glad to see August’s “Rock Guru” was about rhythm. I often find myself trying to play some awesome riff, and think I am actually playing and understanding rock. The truth is, to complement a riff, you need to have some sort of rhythm figure or progression—whether it’s from another guitar or a bass—to make a song worth listening to. Sometimes, a riff can stand on its own, but if you compare a riff without a rhythm behind it to a riff with a rhythmic backing, ten-to-one says the one with rhythm sounds better.
Nathan Strong, Via Internet g