The music and legacy of a prog-rock legend lives on
By Jessica Berget, Editor-in-Chief
On November 25, the Other Press attended Zappostrophe’: a performance of the musical stylings of prog-rock mogul Frank Zappa at the Laura C. Hall Performing Arts Theatre here at Douglas. The band is composed of the faculty and friends of the college and consists of Music Technology diploma faculty Blaire Fisher, Bob Caldwell, and Doug Smith.
I was a casual listener of Zappa before I saw their performance, but I was converted into a big fan after and have not stopped listening to their set list since the show. There were many songs I was not familiar with before the show but now I listen to on repeat. Some of my favourites that they performed were “I’m the Slime,” “Zomby Woof,” and “Village of the Sun.”
Some of Zappa’s song are difficult to even comprehend, much less perform, but Zappostrophe’ killed it. The band itself was incredibly entertaining to watch. You can tell they formed the group from a huge love and appreciation of Frank Zappa’s music and that came through in their performance. The performers were all perfectly timed and in tune, which you would think would be difficult with eight people with such a delightfully chaotic sound as Zappa. My favourite part was the percussions, as it often had a comedic effect to the songs. The songs themselves are so fun to see performed live, I don’t think you even have to like Frank Zappa to enjoy this performance.
In an email interview with the Other Press, Blaire Fisher, the host and arranger of the group, explains the decision behind performing an artist such as Zappa and how the group came about.
What inspired the formation of a Frank Zappa band? What made you decide on Zappa and not another artist?
“Frank Zappa is very unique, and not a lot of people play his music. Those people who like his music like it a lot, and all the musicians in Zappostrophe’ are fans who enjoy the challenge.”
How did the group get formed? How long have you guys been performing Zappa?
“We originally did a few MTD faculty concerts at the Arts at One series. This started as a trio with me and Bob Caldwell with guest Joel Noftle on keyboards. At that time, we played with a lot of sequenced (computer) tracks. There were various versions of the group—we settled on the current eight-piece group about two years ago.”
As a Music Technology professor at the college and a Frank Zappa fan, what do you think it is about his music that makes it so loved by his fans?
“Zappa does not stick to just one style. His music encompasses rock and roll, doo-wop, jazz, classical… pretty much everything. It tends to be sophisticated and difficult to play, and there is a lot of humour.”
What are some Zappa songs you want to perform but haven’t yet?
“Hmmm good question. Lots of songs that I would like to perform. “The Black Page” is very difficult and would be a real challenge for the band. For some more humorous songs I would say “Dancin’ Fool,” or “The Adventures of Greggary Peccary.”
Fisher also puts the band forth for a charitable cause. For the performance and Movemeber, he rocked a Zappa-esque moustache to raise money for men’s health issues, namely prostate cancer—something Frank Zappa died of 26 years ago on December 4 at the age of 52. Though the month is now over, people can still donate to his cause at ca.movember.com/donate/details/memberId/14062035/eventId/QOA8.
Those who missed the November performance need not worry as the band has more events in the future. On January 11 they will be playing at Pat’s Pub in Hastings and another performance at the college on March 30.
Whether you are a fan of Zappa, prog-rock, or just music in general, Zappostrophe’ is a fun and energetic performance that should not be missed.