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Artist Dweezil Zappa pays tribute to his father’s music at UB's Center for the Arts

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Tuesday evening, audience members in the Center for the Arts traveled back to 1975, the year Dweezil Zappa’s father Frank Zappa, a prolific guitarist, released his album One Size Fits All.

The album was the last he created with his band Mothers of Invention and was the focus of Dweezil’s show. Dweezil’s Zappa plays Zappa show was a chance for the artist to play some of his father’s hits from the early ’60s through the late ’70s. Dweezil and his band played One Size Fits All in its entirety as well as hits like “Status Back Baby” off Frank’s 1967 album, Absolutely Free.

Steve Szymanski is a local fan of Frank and Dweezil, who came to the concert with his own father, Dave.

“There is something transcendent about Zappa music,” Dave said. “It’s not something you get on everyday radio.”

After each song ended, Dweezil received a standing ovation.

Frank Zappa performed with the band Mothers of Invention and also as a solo artist, honing his sound after the band disbanded. Frank’s sound is a combination of conventional rock and roll with layers of jazz and classical undertones. His lyrics would often criticize mainstream education, organized religion and censorship.

Frank advocated for free speech and self-education in his music – his first album, Freak Out, was one of the first “concept albums,” focusing on his ideals.

“I just recently became a huge fan of Frank Zappa’s music. You’re [bound] to hear some unusual music,” said Phil Marquis of Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Frank started to move away from Mothers of Invention after financial strain on the group made it difficult to continue performing. But he put together a new version of the band. He later broke out as a solo artist after releasing two jazz-oriented albums.

He reached the Top 10 on Billboard for his album Apostrophe along with his single, “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow.” The album, like much of Frank’s work, mixes the artist’s sense of humor and bizarre lyrics over complex musical arrangements.

“His music is so different from everything else; it’s just so out there,” said Nick Plazio, a senior political science major.

Frank recorded a total 60 albums – some being double albums – as a solo artist and with the Mothers of Invention.

Frank suffered from terminal prostate cancer that had gone unnoticed for close to 10 years. He passed away surrounded by his family in 1993. The artist was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement award.

In the words of Dweezil, himself: “My father’s music is from the future – once you hear it for the first time, there is nothing like it.”

Reuben Wolf is a contributing writer and can be reached at arts@ubspectrum.com


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