Back in the summer of ’78, my friend John Colton visited me in L.A. It was his first visit, and while we were there, he made sure we drove around Beverly Hills, looking for jockeys on rick people’s lawns.
Dweezil and the gang played Uncle Reemus at last night’s Zappa Plays Zappa Plays Zappa gig in Albuquerque. They played much of the canon – Peaches en Regalia and Muffin Man, my two favorites, as bookends, with a wickedly funny and technically devilish visit to Brown Shoes, along with Ray White belting the Illinois Enema Bandit with cheerful fury. And Montana, and City of Tiny Lights, and My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama, and on and on.
My sister, Lisa, got tickets for my birthday, and it was as fine a birthday present as I could have imagined. It’s a risky endeavor, because Frank Zappa’s music is so beloved and so technically challenging that Dweezil and the band could easily have fallen on their collective faces. We’ve always known Dweezil can play guitar, but could he play his dad’s stuff? They didn’t fall on their faces, playing with a combination of technical mastery and loving good humor. I’ve never seen such a concentration of old men with pony tails, and it was all good fun.
Before the show, the guy sitting in front of me turned and asked me if I knew “Weasels Ripped My Flesh.” He told me a story about sitting in a bar in Los Alamos, watching a trio, and realizing the drummer was Jimmy Carl Black. He went home between sets and got his copy of “Weasels” so Black could autograph it.
“I have everything Zappa ever recorded,” he said. He’d seen him five times. He has a T-shirt with Frank’s autograph. His son’s middle name is “Zappa.”
I should’ve asked him if he has a lawn jockey.