Making it Through December with Warm December Traditions
Started off December with the annual Zappafest, which also usually coincides with mine and hubby Brian's birthdays, and this was a special edition, given that Zappa singer/guitarist Ike Willis was in the house, sitting in with Gozortenplat. I got there in time to see the Mirror Men take on a set of Captain Beefheart covers and it was satisfying. See, here's the thing. I can appreciate Zappa. In fact, I got through a grueling late stage labor with my first kid concentrating on the complexities of "Return of the Son of Shut Up and Play Yer Guitar" (as opposed to some "relaxing new age" dreck they usually play in maternity wards, which does nothing of the sort: you're shaking with waves of contractions and thinking, "somebody got PAID to play three notes slowly? Nurse! Crank up the fucking epidural -- I'm in pain AND I'm pissed off!"). But when Zappa puts lyrics in the mix, after a while, I just get tired: geez, did that guy like anybody? In Frank Zappa's world (much like Bob Dylan's), we're all hypocritical sheep, everything that isn't them sucks, and the smugness of it all gets tiresome. (At least once in a while Dylan acknowledges the hope and beauty in the world and that some of that beauty actually comes from other people. But I digress.) I hate saying "Shut up and [do the thing that I like you to do]" -- I know it makes me sound like some kind of right-wing blowhard that can't deal with, for instance, the fact that Bruce Springsteen is actually left wing (and has been his entire career) but oh well. That's how I feel about Zappa: my favorite Zappa albums are all in the Shut Up and Play Yer Guitar series.
Beefheart, on the other hand, is just plain twisted and weird, which is why the band I was really looking forward to was indeed some of the best players in town coming together in tribute. I'd gotten a little taste of it the week beforehand at Trash Fest, and it was the warmup for a truly riveting set. I'll admit, I'm not all that much of a Beefheart expert, but after hearing these guys for two Zappas and a Trash fest, maybe it's time I ran out and picked up a few of the Captain's albums and go watch this probing interview of him on American Bandstand. The Mirror Men got plenty of appreciation from an admittedly hard to impress crowd, and they can list inspiring a new Beefheart fan among their accomplishments. Thanks to Blaine Schultz (who played guitar with them) for identifying this song for me as "China Pig." I wasn't taking any chances; while this song started out as a slamming blues, it went off into never never land and never came back.
|Ike Willis with Gozortenplat|
|Mark Waldoch and Maya Norman|