Thursday, August 30, 2007

To Denver

We are currently sitting at the airport heading off for a wedding and brief vacation. One of my best friends Brett is finally getting married. I'm looking forward to catching up with him tomorrow since it has been nearly 5 years since we've seen one another.

More later...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Zappa Plays the Wiltern

This past Thursday Jacki and went to the Wiltern to see the second year of the Zappa Plays Zappa tour led by Dweezil Zappa. As we were driving up to the show we saw a former co-worker of mine, JT, walking down the street about a block from the venue. After a quick hello through the car window we headed to the venue to get parked.

Once inside we did a quick run through merch. I purchased the recently released cds, The Dub Room Special, MOFO Project / Object, and Buffalo and saw they had a number of autographed tour programs so I also purchased one of those.

Once inside the venue we made our way down front. Our tickets were for the pit section right in front of the stage. The Wiltern security gives the pit people a wrist band and then they take your ticket. At the end of the night they return tickets randomly so you don't get the actual ticket you purchased. The scan to the right is of our purchased ticket.

We picked our place against the rail just to the left of center stage. Prior to the show we saw world famous guitar tech Thomas Nordegg tuning guitars and performing last minute prep on stage. We also saw Joe Travers, drummer for ZPZ, standing on the side of the stage. He recognized Jacki and I and waved to us from the wings.

The show started shortly after 8pm. Dweezil walked out alone and then the rest of the band quickly took their places on stage. As I saw some other reviews mention the special guests of last year were both highlights of that tour and a distraction from the show. This year Ray White was the only special guest and played an integral part of the show. As a result this show was all about Frank's music.

I was familiar with only 1/3rd of the set. I knew more of last year's material so this year's set list will be a good jumping off point to discover more Zappa. The band was much tighter this year. Up against the stage we could hear a combination of the side fills, the live percussion from the stage and Dweezil's amps that were only 10 feet in front of us. This was one of the first times where I could tell that the tone coming from the live amp was integral to the music being performed. Another surprise was Dweezil is a much better player this year. Although when Dweezil is trading off leads with Frank (on the big video screen), Frank still has the upper hand, both in tone and in the creativity of the solos.

My favorite moment of the set was when Dweezil and Frank were trading solos in Cosmik Debris during the solos. Dweezil's solo was one of his best of the show and then for Frank to close out the song was surreal. The integration between the live band and the video footage of Frank was much better this year. Other highlights included the improv section of Dupree's Paradise, Uncle Remus and Joe's Garage. During the improv Scheila performed a stunt where she was playing to saxes at the same time holding a low note on one and soloing with another. Dweezil even tried to add a flute to the mix but she wasn't having it. Another highlight during the improv was when Jamie Kime started riffing on this great funky guitar. It didn't build nearly as long as it could have but was a great run during the improv section.

At the end of the show when the band came out for their final bow Joe came out and handed me one of his drumsticks. A beat up Vater 5a stick. It was nice to see he remembered us from the numerous Keneally shows we've seen him at over the past two years.

The show was a solid effort by the band. They played 3 hours with no breaks. The playing was better this year as were the improv sections. We can only guess who the special guests will be next year. And let's hope Dweezil keeps the same band line up in place for next year.

Zappa Plays Zappa
August 23, 2007
The Wiltern
Los Angeles, CA

Black Napkins (w/ Video of FZ)
Tiny Lights
Advance Romance
Dumb All Over (w/ Video of FZ)
Dog Meat
Suzy Creemcheese
Brown Shoes
America Drinks
Peaches En Regalia
Pygmy Twylyte
Dupree's Paradise
Uncle Remus
Willie The Pimp
Joe's Garage
Wind Up Workin' In A Gas Station
San Berdino
I'm The Slime
Illinois Enema Bandit
Wild Love
Yo Mama

Cosmik Debris (w/ Video of FZ)
G Spot Tornado
Muffin Man (w/ Video of FZ)

A special thanks to the fan that came up after the show and gave me his email address for some pictures. The picture of Dweezil was taken by him. The security people were being camera nazis so we weren't able to get any good pictures during the set.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Poison, Ratt and Vains of Jenna in Irvine

Saturday night after Jacki and I returned from the movies I logged into Ticketmaster and saw they had just released a batch of tickets 7 rows behind the pit. This ended up being 12th row center. After a brief check that everyone could go I purchased tickets for the family. The very next night we headed down to Irvine to see the show. I had wanted to see the show in LA the night before but poor seat selection and high ticket prices kept me from going. We were able to get 3 tickets in Irvine for the price of a single ticket in LA.

Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Irvine is about 60 miles from where we live in Santa Monica. Never one to underestimate the unpredictability of LA traffic we headed out about 4:30pm for a 7pm show. Fortunately the traffic wasn't bad and we arrived at the venue around 5:45pm. A quick bite at Burger King, the only open restaurant near the venue, and then we were off to the show.

The venue was a nice outdoor venue. I assumed there would be covered seating, instead it was an open air venue with a pretty steep slope for the seats, a bit steeper than the Hollywood Bowl. Since the sun was already setting behind the hill we didn't have to worry about Jacki getting sun burned. We were sitting 7 rows off the floor nearly eye level with the bands. These were fantastic seats and a nice surprise considering the last minute ticket purchase.

First up was Vains of Jenna. Our expectations were set high for a band we had never heard. There is a good buzz in the LA hard rock scene for these guys from Sweden. Their set was short and sweet and even included a surprise cover of Tom Petty's Refugee. Now its time to order their cds.

Next up was Ratt. Stephen Pearcy's voice was much better than at Rocklahoma and the band seemed pumped to be playing to a full house. Towards the end of the night Warren broke a string right before starting You're In Love. One chorus in he finally had a break in the guitar parts to be able to do a quick switch out of guitars. Their set was non-stop hits. You can't beat the back to back combination of Lay It Down and You're In Love.

August 12, 2007
Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
Irvine California

Intro Music (We Will Rock You - Queen)
Dangerous But Worth The Risk
I'm Insane
You Think You're Tough
Wanted Man
Slip Of The Lip
Way Cool Jr.
Nobody Rides For Free
Back For More
Lovin' You's A Dirty Job
Lack Of Communication
Lay It Down
You're In Love
Body Talk
Round And Round

Next up was Poison. These guys know how to entertain a big crowd. The last couple of years I've seen them they have put on a consistently good live show. The crowd in Irvine stayed on their feet for the entire set. Bret mentioned that one of Poison's historic highlights was filming the Ride The Wind video at this venue when it was called Irvine Meadows. At the end of the Poison set I saw CC throw a guitar pic into the crowd. The crowd didn't seem to see it so at the end of the show I walked to the general vicinity of where he threw the pic and was able to find it. A nice score considering we were out of pic throwing range.

Our celeb sighting was when Jacki and Darian spotted Dilana from the RockStar Supernova show.

August 12, 2007
Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
Irvine, California

Intro Music (Highway To Hell AC/DC)
Look What The Cat Dragged In
I Want Action
Ride The Wind
I Won't Forget You
What I Like About You (Romantics cover)
CC Guitar Solo (Ray Charles Tribute)
I Hate Every Bone In Your Body But Mine (CC on vocals)
Something To Believe In
Your Mama Don't Dance
I Need To Know (Tom Petty cover)
Rikki Drum Solo
Unskinny Bop
Every Rose Has It's Thorn
Fallen Angel
Talk Dirty To Me
Nothin' But A Good Time

Oddly both the Ratt and Poison setlists were slightly shorter than at Rocklahoma. Ratt cut three songs from their set but retained the same set list order. Poison had dropped the Marshall Tucker cover Can't You See, otherwise their set was identical. Another surprise at the show is who would have thought you would have heard two Tom Petty covers at a hard rock concert. Having Stephen nail the vocals for Ratt at this show made their set sound much better than Rocklahoma. Poison seems to never disappoint and put in another great effort. And thanks to the sound guys for making a great sounding show, I dread going to arena shows these days because the sound is often poor but they had this place set up as if you were listening on a great home stereo.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Dinner and movie

Jacki and I took in a movie and dinner Saturday night. Darian had run off with friends to see her new favorite band Take The Crown. So on our night alone we took in Ratatouille at my favorite theater in LA the Arclight. The movie is highly recommended as Pixar never disappoints. The digital animation keeps getting better as do the story lines. And seeing a movie at the Arclight with their caramel popcorn is always a treat.

After a quick run to Amoeba Music we decided to try out something new to eat on the Sunset Strip. We ended up at Carney's, a train that has been converted into a long hot dog stand. Jacki and I agree that this may be the best hot dog we've had in LA.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


D and I just felt an earthquake. There is nothing quite like having the entire house rock back and forth. A magnitude 4.5 about 10-15 miles from where we live.

Monday, August 06, 2007

A night at Molly Malone's

Last night Jacki and I went to Molly Malone's to see Smug. We first heard about Smug because their guitarist Rick Musallam plays with Mike Keneally, and held double duty playing both with Smug and later in the night with Mike's band.

As their debut cd was approaching release Jacki befriended their singer/bass player Bret Helm via email. She was looking forward to meeting him since their cd had finally been release. We walked in and saw him standing near the back of the room, went over introduced ourselves, and were able to talk for a few minutes before the next band started.

He stated he wished the album had come out sooner and plans to have a new Smug disc out before the end of the year. His description of the new music was interesting. He described that instead of the sound going more outward, it would instead be a more focused forward sound, and more lo-fi. He said think White Stripes and Beck. At least it made sense when he was telling us about it.

The first band we saw was Loop!Station. A female singer, a cello player and a bunch of loops recorded in real time as part of the performance. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, the creation of loops on the cello isn't something you see everyday, but after about 20 minutes of their set I was ready to see what we had come for. They had a good response from the audience and seemed to have brought the biggest crowd.

Unfortunately after their set the crowd thinned significantly. At one point during Smug's show Bret made the comment about how he thinks there are more people in the audience than on stage.

The other times we've seen Smug they came off more as an indie rock heavily influenced by punk. Tonight their set was less punk and included some elements of improvisation with extended jams during several of the songs.

Their set was awkward at times with silence between songs, although about half way through their set they loosened up and were able to allow for some of the extended jams to breathe. But just as they got going their 45-50 minute set was over.

Highlights included a great impromptu bass performance of Happy Birthday by Bret. What Jimi Hendrix did for the Star Spangled Banner, Bret did for Happy Birthday. During one of the awkward moments of silence someone suggested the band sing Happy Birthday while waiting for Rick to re-tune his guitar.

Other highlights included Jacki's favorite 3 States, It's Me and Most Of All. Check out the pic of Bret using the mic stand for slide bass!

August 5, 2007
Molly Malone's
Los Angeles, CA

Short Jam (Instrumental) ->
Graham & Liz
Passing You By
(Happy Birthday - Bret on bass)
3 States 6 Days 1200 Miles
Shoulda Wrote A Ballad
It's Me
Most Of All
Passin You By

More photos available at

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