Tag Archive | Frank Zappa

Shaggs: Philosophy of The World Comes to the Off Broadway Stage!

If I didn’t have a calendar in front of me I’d swear it was April Fools’ Day, because I just read about a new musical coming to off-Broadway which is based on the true story of the late sixties’ all female rock band, The Shaggs. For those unfamiliar with this pop cultural phenomenon, the band was composed of sisters Dorothy “Dot” Wiggin (vocals/lead guitar), Betty Wiggin (vocals/rhythm guitar), Helen Wiggin (drums), and later Rachel Wiggin (bass). The Shaggs were formed by Dot, Betty, and Helen in 1968 on the insistence of their father, Austin Wiggin, who believed that his mother foresaw the band’s rise to stardom. The Shaggs’ only studio album, Philosophy of the World, was released in 1969 and failed to garner attention, though the band continued to exist as a locally popular live act. The Shaggs disbanded in 1975 after their father’s death. Today, the band is primarily notable for their perceived ineptitude at playing conventional rock music; the band was described in one Rolling Stone article as “…sounding like lobotomized Trapp Family singers.” In some circles, however, The Shaggs are seen as a groundbreaking outsider music group, receiving praise from mainstream artists such as Kurt Cobain and also from Frank Zappa after he called the Shaggs “better than the Beatles.”

As art imitates life, the play tells the story of a working-class dad’s a vision of rock-n-roll destiny for his three talentless daughters, convinced that they are his family’s one-way ticket out of hardship and obscurity. Shaggs: Philosophy of the World is directed by John Langs, coproduced by New York Theatre Workshop and South Ark Stage. The book is by Joy Gregory, music by Gunnar Madsen, and lyrics by Gregory and Madsen. Personally, I can’t wait to see it.

For two evenings in April, curious Shaggs’ fans can sneak a peek of the new musical, prior to its May 2011 debut at New York’s Playwrights Horizons. On Sunday and Monday, April 17and 18, excerpts will be performed at the Guggenheim Museum (1071 Fifth Avenue at 89th Street) at 7:30 PM. Irwin Chusid will also moderate a discussion with members of the production’s creative team. It should be a good time. Tickets for this event are $30 General Public, $25 Guggenheim members and $10 for Students under 25 with valid ID. Click through to This Link to purchase.

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LA’s Whisky a Go Go Turns 47!


Image Source

On This Date in 1964: The Whisky a Go Go club opened on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, CA. The Whisky was a launching pad for such acts as The Doors and Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention. It’s also the club where Led Zeppelin performed their first US shows, supported by a then unknown band called Alice Cooper. Bands I can remember seeing at The Whisky include The Plasmatics and Nina Hagen. There are likely many others, but those memories aren’t really available to me anymore.

RIP Captain Beefheart

Musician and visual artist Don Van Vliet, AKA Captain Beefheart has passed away today, December 17th, 2010, in California due to complications from multiple sclerosis. He was 69 years old.

Smoke On The Water: Fire In The Sky


Rare Photo of the Casino Burning Courtesy of Montreux Music Dot Com Juxtaposed With a Shot of 1,721 Guitarists All Playing “Smoke on the Water” In Unison

On This Date, December 3rd in 1971: During a concert by Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention at a casino in Montreux, Switzerland, a fire started after an audience member shot a flare gun at the ceiling. The building burned down but there were no fatalities. Deep Purple were in Montreux at the time to record their album Machine Head and watched the fire burn from their hotel window. At their recording sessions, the band immortalized the incident in their song “Smoke on the Water,” which was released as a single the following year and became a huge hit. Zappa, who is mentioned in the lyrics, lost all his equipment in the fire.

Remembering Frank Zappa

Zappa and Parents
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On This Date, December 4th, in 1993: Frank Zappa died of prostate cancer at his home in Los Angeles with his wife Gail and children, Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva, at his side. He was 52 years old. In the image above, Zappa poses with his parents in the living room of his Los Angeles home. On the wall directly behind him is the Ed Beardsley painting Pretties For You, which was eventually used as the cover art and title for  the first album by the band Alice Cooper.

Pretties for You ACG

The Advantage Help You Get Your Geek On

Advantage Elf Titled

For the past few weeks I have been telling everyone I know about my new favorite band, The Advantage, a rock quartet from Sacramento that plays only covers of Nintendo Game Theme Songs. Oh my god, they are so way beyond genius. I’ve never played video games in my life, but these songs’ bizarre sonic amalgam of Yes, Frank Zappa and Oingo Boingo thrill me completely. I just can’t stop playing their new CD, Elf Titled, which comes out on January 24, 2006. The Advantage fucking rule, and you need to get your geek on and check them out.