Guitarist Dweezil Zappa has cocooned himself away in the studio this past year engineering his own metamorphosis. "In order for me to play my father's music correctly I needed to understand the fundamentals of his music more thoroughly, which meant a lot of studying." His goal was to emerge as a "better musician" as well as a "better guitarist." The autodidactic Zappa utilized the fruits of his labor to startling effect on his first album project in more than six years - Go With What You Know - featuring a unique guitar rendition of the elder Zappa's classic instrumental, Peaches En Regalia. "I actually played along with Frank's guitar solo from the original 'Hot Rats' master tapes. He had dedicated that album to me since he was working on that around the time I was born. It's cool to hear us playing together note for note in a stereo time machine."
The album will be independently released to coincide with the "Zappa Plays Zappa" European tour which hits the road this May. This is the first official live concert event of Frank Zappa's Music since his untimely passing in 1993. Joining Dweezil on stage will be a hand-picked band of new, young musicians.
Dweezil has recorded under his own name and with his brother, Ahmet, in their band Z. Six-string heroics aside, Dweezil has nurtured a successful television career, starting early on as an MTV veejay when he was only 17. He has appeared in films (Pretty in Pink, The Running Man with Arnold Schwarzenegger) and composed the music for several television shows including the Ben Stiller Show and the hit WB comedy, The Jamie Kennedy Experiment. In addition to cauterizing his fingertips learning to play the music of Frank Zappa for the upcoming tour, and lending his studio wizardry to the Zappa archives (his multi-channel production work on the recent Frank Zappa release, QuAUDIOPHILIAc, is positively mind-blowing), Dweezil has this to say about his upcoming album," To me the record is like a weird audio movie. I really tried to create an interesting flow with it." And the tour rehearsals, "Prepping for the tour has been like preparing for a medieval battle where going into it your sharpest weapon is a spoon. But I'm pretty deadly with that spoon now."
Saxophone, Flute, Keyboards & Vocals
Scheila Gonzalez was born in Los Angeles, California on August 5th, 1971. Her mother first enrolled her in piano lessons at the age of four. At the age of twelve she fell in love with the saxophone and she has never looked back. This versatile artist and educator can be heard on numerous recordings and in a variety of musical settings. Scheila has toured throughout Europe and Japan and extensively in the United States. She has had the opportunity to perform in prestigious venues such as Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Hall and the Kodak Theater. Over the years Scheila has performed with Lionel Hampton, Diane Schuur, Joe Williams, Nancy Wilson, Alex Acuna, Billy Davis, Marylin McCoo, Ray Parker Jr. and Billy Preston to name a few.
Some of her television appearances include The Tonight Show with Jay Leno backing up country music artist Garth Brooks and more recently the BET Music Awards with Sheila E. supporting Best Hip-Hop Artist Nominee T. I. She will soon be seen in the new Christopher Guest film "For Your Consideration" scheduled for release this Fall.
Scheila is an exceptional performer who embraces opportunities to play in diverse musical situations. Scheila's skills on woodwinds, keyboards and vocals keep her in demand. She thrives on the challenge and her passion for life is felt in every note she plays. Regardless of what style or instrument she's playing, every phrase is soulful and she performs with the ease of a true professional. She approaches all of her musical endeavors with great joy and if you ask her you will find that Scheila feels extremely blessed to get to do what she does.
Griffin grew up outside of New York and has been playing music since he was young. He began on the trumpet during elementary school, but it wasn't until he received his first bass in the seventh grade that his passion was fully ignited. Soon he was playing with his high school's jazz band, and then eventually his local All-County and All-State jazz bands.
Unfortunately, tragedy would compel Griffin to make music his life's calling. In 1996, Griffin's friend and teacher, Dan Binggeli, died at the age of nineteen. For a time, Pete's only comfort was in playing music. Soon, Griffin was asked to join Uncle Funkle, Binggeli's band, and he decided to seize the chance for a life in music Binggeli never had.
To help guide his new found sense of direction, Griffin chose to further study his craft. He was accepted to Northwestern University's well-known School of Music outside of Chicago. There he was deeply immersed in the study of jazz and classical, while also taking lessons under Steve Rodby of the influential jazz outfit The Pat Metheny Group. From him, Griffin learned to concentrate on playing less notes and making them count more.
Graduating in 2001 with a B. A. in Music, Griffin immediately moved to Los Angeles. Eventually, he began to work at the Musician's Institute as a teacher's assistant, as well as attending every audition he heard about. After playing a few shows with Save Ferris's Monique Powell, Griffin began to play bass for Hanson in 2003, touring the US and Asia in 2004 and appearing on several TV shows including The Tonight Show, The Today Show, and Good Morning America. In 2005 Pete played on Hanson's live album "Live and Electric," in addition to playing a few shows with the Edgar Winter Band. In early 2006 Pete was picked to play for the Zappa Plays Zappa tour with Dweezil Zappa, Steve Vai and others.
Marimba, Mallets & Percussion
Billy was born with non-violent inclinations. He was also born with an extreme desire to hit things. He did, at an early age, find some common ground in this dichotomy in the world of percussion. After eleven years, the tolerating Mr. and Mrs. Hulting agreed to let him start with the drums. Music led him to college at California State University at Northridge where he got a Bachelor of Music Degree in the Studio Music Option (so what if it took six years). Two weeks after graduation he went on the road with Maynard Ferguson's High Voltage 2. He later toured with Maynard's 60th Birthday Big Band and recorded albums with both groups. During the Maynard days he did the Nia Peeples tour of Japan. He then toured for two years with Natalie Cole followed by Barry Manilow.
Billy had been touring for over thirteen years with Lou Rawls until he passed away recently. In the last few years Billy also toured with The Rippingtons, Patti Labelle, and The Manhattan Transfer. Billy also co-wrote one of the songs on their CD "Vibrate." He is now touring with Zappa Plays Zappa - a band led by Dweezil Zappa performing the music of Frank Zappa. Several years ago Billy released his first CD - The Hundredth Monkey on the Truemedia label. He has worked with many others including Clare Fisher, Luci Arnaz, and Howard Hewitt. Billy also stays busy in town doing shows, sessions, playing with his trio and his fusion group. His hobbys include sailing, SCUBA diving, skating in-line marathons, and cooking spicy vegan foods from all over the world (his Jamaican Jerk Marinade is not for the weak).
A native of San Diego, CA., guitarist Jamie Kime attended the Musician's Institute in Hollywood, CA., studied improv privately with Peter Sprague and harmony with Ted Greene, and has performed, recorded, and/or toured with Jewel, Michelle Branch, and legendary Austin, Texas-based blues/soul vocalist Malford Milligan in The Boneshakers, and many other amazing artists that, according to Jamie, "you've probably never heard of". When he's home in Los Angeles, he hosts a weekly Monday night gig at the world famous Baked Potato.
On his gig with ZPZ, Jamie says, "Upon being asked by Dweezil to be a part of the band, I knew it would be equal parts challenging and rewarding. But, I had no idea how much of a junkie I would become for this music. I'm now constantly searching Frank's vast catalog for new songs to learn in addition to periodically revisiting the songs we've been playing for months now, every time discovering new things I hadn't heard before. Every musician should take some time to immerse themselves in the music of Frank Zappa - you'll be hooked for life, and be a better player for it!"
Unlike Willie, Ben is a large pimp with somewhat spiky hair and the women in hotel lobbies love the way he smells, not sells, especially after a bath. But the similarities run deep between Ben and Zappa's many vocalists and characters that make up all of the wonderful albums and live shows he produced. His is after all an artist that wants to inspire listeners through music.
Ben started out playing drums on himself, like Mr. McFerrin, and then blew some horn in his formative years, ala Dizzy (but like a 7th grader). He then switched his talents to guitar and vocals and, in my opinion, brought them up to concert level rather quickly. Latin rhythms slowly seeped into his percussive hands (thanks to his Anglo-Saxon upbringing in the northern suburbs of Chicago), and soon, with the addition of the flute, that's right – I said the flute, Ben was the most complete multi-instrumental artist since Tiffany.
But the instruments don't matter much now, it's all about the vocals. So with a sharp ear and a fully charged ipod, Ben must channel the likes of Ike, George, Ricky, Ray, Napoleon, all of the others, and above all Frank. He's a little nervous, but totally thrilled and up for the challenge. (Even so, please be nice to him, it's not easy)
In addition to the Zapposmosis, Ben has honed his Zappa chops by originating the role of Larry in L. A.'s Open Fist world premiere production of an interpretation of Joe's Garage, an album which some of you might've heard of.
Drums & Vocals
From Erie, PA. Schooled at The Berklee College Of Music from 1988-1992. Drummer for numerous live outfits over the years including but not limited to Z (Ahmet & Dweezil Zappa), Duran Duran, Billy Idol, Lisa Loeb and Drake Bell. Vaultmeister for the Zappa Family Trust since 1995. Currently drumming with Zappa Plays Zappa.
Keyboards & Vocals
Hailing from "Music City" - Nashville, TN - Chris holds a degree in Commercial Music as a Piano Principle and Music Technology Emphasis from Belmont University. Growing up 60 miles east of Nashville in Cookeville, TN, Chris began playing the piano at nine years old on a strict classical diet. It wasn't until high school that he began performing various commercial styles, and also taking the stage for the first time as a vocalist. He joined the high school choir, and with his strong tenor and high falsetto, Chris secured chairs in the Tennessee All-State Choir three years in a row, as well as the ACDA National Choir in 2005.
After graduating high school, Chris began studying classical piano at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville. Here he studied with a full scholarship under the instruction of Dr. Catherine Godes, wife and protégé of the late Herman Godes - world famous concert pianist. In January of 2007, he transferred to Belmont University to pursue his interests in more commercial styles of music. He emerged as a strong and well-versed musician, specializing in synthesis and computer based music technology, including sequencing, arranging, film scoring, and sound design. While in college, Chris was a regular at The Big Bang dueling piano bar in downtown Nashville and keyboardist in the alternative rock band, September Haze. In the fall of 2009, Chris was hired as keyboardist for up and coming country music singer Ty Williams, and is featured in the music video for his single, "Barn on the Rooftop".