Dweezil Zappa Welcomes “Nacho De Pepe” At The Beacon Theatre, Hopewell VA
I have been waiting for quite some time to see Dweezil Zappa again. Many of you may not be aware of the family dispute that has seemingly died down. I had somehow found myself involved in this fiasco by writing a review about the upcoming Zappa Hologram Tour. Here, https://www.jambandpurist.com/home/holographic-zappa-the-continuing-saga-of-zappa-vs-zappa I stated my opinion about the upcoming tour and that I had heard, Dweezil, did not get along with some of the members from Zappa’s past bands. Little I did I know that Dweezil was reading my stuff and he personally messaged me via Twitter stating,
“I've got no problem with former members. Unfortunately, I am unable to discuss on Twitter due to current legal discovery rules so I'll leave it at that. You're welcome to reach out for a formal interview.”
I then tried to reach out for an interview on numerous occasions and got no response. Anyway, here at www.jambandpurist.com we tell the truth and the truth is, we absolutely love Dweezil Zappa and everything he does! There is absolutely nothing that could keep me from enjoying Dweezil’s extraordinary guitar work. We only want the best from the remaining Zappa’s and that being said, it looks like the family is trying to work things out. After many updates concerning the lawsuit, Dweezil has seemingly decided to quiet down and didn’t say anything about this at all, sticking to the music. Perhaps, Dweezil, will make an appearance on the hologram tour? I don’t know what will happen but I look forward to the future of the Zappa family. I guess this is also a good time to talk about the recent Bizarre World of Frank Zappa tour reveal from the ZFT. While I have my reservations especially the hologram aspect (see miniature Dio) I will still go see the closest show I can and review it. I look forward to seeing some of the special guests and Zappa band mates having only seen Dweezil and his crew.
With that out of the way, I returned to the Beacon Theatre in Hopewell, Virginia to witness Dweezil and his band play some of the most impossible live music. Hopewell, Virginia is quiet and rural, in juxtaposition to Richmond and the surrounding area. It feels, as though, many people do not even know there is a music venue here. The Beacon Theatre is one of the coolest and cleanest venues in the state. It’s basically a sleeper venue and I think that’s the way the locals like it. The crowd for the show was filled with older Zappa fans who seemed to be reliving the glory days as I long for things I’ll never see.
Opening with, “Andy”, vocalist and multi instrumentalist, Adam Minkoff, was the newest addition to the stage. While it took a few songs to warm up to his style, by the end the first few songs the crowd was impressed and happy to see someone play strange, chaotic synth music before their very eyes. The set list would go on with “Honey Don’t You Want A Man Like Me” and “Fifty-Fifty” both staple Zappa songs within his conceptual continuity.
Possibly my favorite song of the evening was, “Call Any Vegetable”, which was perfectly completed. I haven’t heard a live version like this one; filled with intricate and challenging changes and musical structures. Dweezil and his band do an amazing job of reliving this experience. “Tell Me You Love Me“ was raw and fast. “Absolutely Free” was very interesting live. “Discorporate” like some psychedelic, musical time machine. The next song finds its origins in the name of a stuffed elephant that Moon Unit once had “T’mershi Duween.” (polka version) “Dog Breath Variations” and the subsequent sequence around it, would remind me very much of Eddy and Flo doing their thing onstage. Adam playing keyboard, percussion and guitar while Sheila is always on point with her sax. “Sleep Dirt” was done in an electric-style; Adam taking some lead guitar on this song. I can see why he was chosen for this job. In fact, every member of Dweezil’s band are always phenomenal, that’s why they are up there onstage playing some of the hardest compositions known to man.
“Black Page #1 & #2” came next and I am not sure if these have ever been played live together? Dweezil would show off his Custom Gibson SG guitar with the top 3 strings being fretless for “Torture Never Stops.” The eerie sound of the sliding reminding me of some torture device itself but in the best way possible. “Valley Girl” was unexpected “like for sure, for sure.” Sheila could be seen taking selfies with the band while playing the part of a basic LA girl. I just love “Pygmy Twylite.” Play it fast, slow or, anyway you want, just give it to me. James Santiago, Sheila’s husband would sit-it on guitar and battle Dweezil, going back and forth until the cacophony concluded in a robust crescendo. James was an unknown sit-in performance that was wild and chaotic but with a palpable energy. “Susie Cream Cheese” and “Cocaine Decisions” would see Dweezil adding strange drum patterns and breakdowns, messing with the singers; calling these changes out with his hands. We would later find out it was the theme to “Psycho” as he made the band do this several times more during the show.
“Drowning Witch” has to be one of the hardest songs to perform and with the ritual sacrifice; we all know the how this story ends. “Florentine Pogan” would be played in double-time, which is off putting but one way to skip over 5 minutes and squeeze in another song. “Yellow Snow” was short and went straight into “Uncle Remus” the crowd favorite. “This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Fish Sandwich” but not, Hopewell Virginia. “Keep It Greasy” and ”Joe’s Garage” would end the show but the band would return to rip our flesh once more. Beginning with Adam Minkoff And The Pink Ones, a high pitched doo-wop sound that had Dweezil laughing onstage, this would lead into, “Cheapness”, “Son of Orange County”, (“Two Nickels To Paradise” tease) and “Trouble Everyday.” (“Staying Alive” tease) This all goes out to Nacho de Pepe! I look forward to seeing Dweezil again and I even look forward to seeing the Bizarre World Of Zappa Tour because I just love Zappa that much! Stay Weird!
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.