Zappa! Zappa! Zappa!

Truth is: I know diddly-squat about Frank Zappa. I've heard this and that, of course, and all I've heard has always been intriguing, but, for no good reason, I've just never taken the time to dive into Zappa's world. Perhaps it's because his world seems so enormous and wild and foreign. His world is full of barking pumpkins and utility muffins and Sprechstimme and other things I can neither imagine nor pronounce. I mean, even his name is strange. Like an exclamation, like a shot of electricity. Zappa! Say it three times, and something bad might happen. Zappa! Zappa! (No, don't!)


Frank Zappa played guitar, wore a mean mustache, and had the devil in his eyes. That much, I know. I've also heard that he had a few kids. One of them is called Dweezil.

Dweezil? Dweezil lacks his father's 'stache, but I hear he knows a thing or two about the guitar. It seems, too, that me and Dweezil have something in common. Sort of. In the same way that I'm all about bringing the pleasures of hi-fi to a younger audience, Dweezil has a strong interest in bringing his father's music to a younger audience. And I think that's pretty cool.

Dweezil dedicated himself to learning his papa's songs. In 2006, he got together with a few friends and invited them into his father's world. Together, they went off with the pumpkins and muffins on the Zappa Plays Zappa Tour. The band is built around Dweezil, but also includes Aaron Arntz (trumpet and keys), Scheila Gonzalez (sax, flute, keys, and vox), Pete Griffin (bass), Billy Hulting (marimba, mallets, percussion), and Jamie Kime (guitar) who 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!"

Well, maybe it's time for me to take a look into the wild world of Zappa. Maybe you'll want to take a look with me. Here, at Stereophile, we have five copies of the Zappa Plays Zappa DVD, commemorating that 2006 tour, and we'd like to share them with you. Two Zappa Plays Zappa shows were captured for this double-DVD set, which also includes a 12-track CD of material selected by Dweezil.

If you'd like one of these Zappa Plays Zappa DVD sets, send me an e-mail at, and we'll hook you up. In the body of the e-mail, please include your name, address, and date of birth. I'll be collecting these e-mails through Monday, May 12, 2008. Since we only have five DVDs to offer, I'll just put all of the e-mail responses into a Frank Zappa LP sleeve or something, close my eyes, and pick five winners. This is an official sweepstakes, so there are some legal considerations. Please read all of the rules before entering.



1. Introduction: Stereophile Magazine (A Source Interlink Media, LLC publication) and Big Honcho Media ("Sponsors") are offering the Online Sweepstakes ("Sweepstakes"). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. A PURCHASE DOES NOT IMPROVE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

2. Eligibility: Entrant must be 21 years old as of April 21, 2008 and a resident of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia. Employees of Sponsors, the Sponsors’ parents, subsidiaries, affiliated companies, and agents and the immediate family (defined as parents, spouse, children, siblings, grandparents) of each such employees, and all those with whom such employees are domiciled, are NOT eligible.

3. Timing: Sweepstakes begins at 12:00:01 a.m. E.T. on Monday, April 21, 2008, and ends at 11:59:59 p.m. E.T. on Monday, May 12, 2008.

4. How to Enter: Visit and send an e-mail to Stephen Mejias at In the body of the e-mail, include your name, address, and date of birth. Individuals may enter this sweepstakes only once. More than one entry from any person or e-mail address will void all entries from that person or e-mail address.

5. Drawing: This sweepstakes will have (1) one drawing and (5) five winners. Each entrant selected as a potential winner must comply with all terms and conditions set forth in these Official Rules, and winning is contingent upon fulfilling all such requirements. For each prize, a potential winner will be selected in a random drawing from all entries received on or before the entry deadline. The drawing will be conducted on or about Tuesday, May 13, 2008, by Sponsors, whose decisions are final and binding in all matters relating to the Sweepstakes. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. Potential winner will be notified by e-mail or mail on or about Tuesday, May 13, 2008. If a potential winner cannot be contacted within fourteen (14) days after the first attempt to contact such potential winner, an alternate entrant will be selected in his or her place at random from all entries received.

6. Prizes: The following prizes will be awarded: ZAPPA PLAYS ZAPPA deluxe DVD/CD set: commemorative DVD featuring the critically-acclaimed 2006 concert tour of Dweezil Zappa's band ZAPPA PLAYS ZAPPA, including 2 DVDs with 30 compositions and 1 CD with 12 compositions. (ARV $24.98)

Total Approximate Retail Value of All Prizes: $124.90. Sponsors are not responsible for lost or mutilated prizes and none will be replaced. Prize is nontransferable and must be accepted as awarded. No cash or other substitution may be made, except by Sponsors in the event that the prize cannot be awarded for any reason, in which case, Sponsors will provide a prize of equal or greater value. All taxes, fees and surcharges on prizes are the sole responsibility of winner.

7. Other Terms and Conditions: Potential winners and any guests who will share in the prize may be required to sign and return an Affidavit of Eligibility, Liability Release, and where lawful, a Publicity Release, within fourteen (14) days of notification, failing which the potential winner will be disqualified and another winner selected in the place of the disqualified person at random from all entries received. If any prize or prize notification is returned as non-deliverable, the potential winner will be disqualified and another potential winner will be selected in the original potential winner's place. By accepting the prize, the winner agrees that the Sponsors and those acting under the Sponsors authority, may use winner's name, picture/portrait likeness and/or voice, for advertising and promotional purposes without further consideration, unless prohibited by law. BY ACCEPTING THE PRIZE, THE WINNER AGREES THAT THE SPONSORS, THEIR SUBSIDIARIES, AFFILIATES, ADVERTISING AND PROMOTION AGENCIES, AND ALL OF THE SPONSORS OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, EMPLOYEES, REPRESENTATIVES AND AGENTS, WILL HAVE NO LIABILITY WHATSOEVER FOR, AND WILL BE HELD HARMLESS BY WINNER FOR ANY LIABILITY FOR ANY INJURY, LOSS OR DAMAGES OF ANY KIND TO PERSONS, INCLUDING DEATH, AND PROPERTY, DUE IN WHOLE OR IN PART, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, FROM THE ACCEPTANCE, POSSESSION, USE OR MISUSE OF THE PRIZE OR PARTICIPATION IN THIS SWEEPSTAKES OR PARTICIPATION IN ANY SWEEPSTAKES OR PRIZE RELATED ACTIVITY. Subject to all federal, state and local laws. Void where prohibited.

8. Miscellaneous: All entries become the sole property of Sponsors and none will be returned. In the event of a dispute, entries made by Internet will be deemed made by the authorized account holder of the e-mail address submitted at the time of entry. The "authorized account holder" is deemed the natural person who is assigned to an e-mail address by an Internet access provider, service provider or other online organization that is responsible for assigning e-mail addresses for the domain associated with the submitted e-mail address. A potential winner may be requested to provide Sponsors with proof that the potential winner is the authorized account holder of the e-mail address associated with the winning entry. If for any reason the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned, including due to infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failure, human error or any other causes beyond the control of Sponsor that corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsors reserve the right in their sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process, and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes. Sponsor assumes no responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, communications line failure, theft or destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of, entries. The Sponsors are not responsible for any problems or technical malfunction of any telephone network or lines, computer online systems, servers, or providers, computer equipment, software, failure of any e-mail or entry to be received by Sponsors on account of technical problems or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any web site, any combination thereof, or otherwise, including any injury or damage to entrant's or any other person's computer related to or resulting from participation or downloading any materials in the Sweepstakes. Sponsors are not responsible for late, lost, illegible, incomplete, stolen, or misdirected entries. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE ANY WEB SITE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE SWEEPSTAKES MAY BE A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS AND SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSORS RESERVE THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW.

9. Winners List: A complete list of prizewinners will be available at after Monday, June 16, 2008 or by sending a stamped self-addressed envelope after Monday, June 16, 2008 to Stereophile, Attn: ZAPPA PLAYS ZAPPA Sweepstakes, 261 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016.

10. Sponsors: The Sponsors of this sweepstakes are Stereophile Magazine and Big Honcho Media whose addresses are Stereophile, New York, NY 10016 and Big Honcho Media, New York, NY 10006.

Dave H's picture

Boy do I misss Frank. A true genius in my opinion. I would love to offer you some suggestions of where to start exploring, but his work is so varied, depends so much on your taste, I don't know where to start. Everything from raucous rock to London Symphony, he did it all. And the raunchy stuff he gets attention with is a very small, but sometimes humorous part of the gig.My personal fave, certainly not his best work, but just one I have always loved, is Bongo Fury, with Captain Beefheart. And you think Frank is weird, oh boy. Trout Mask Replica!

Calvin's picture

Stephen:What a tragic loss at the age of 53 and it's hard to believe he's been gone for 15 years this December! If you're a guitar enthusiast start with th guitar only work. He did several albums/box sets that were guitar only. "Shut Up 'n' Play Yer Guitar", "Shut Up 'n' Play Yer Guitar Some More", "Return of the Son of Shut Up 'n' Play Yer Guitar", and "Guitar" are great places to start developing one's appreciation. Give a special listen to "Sexual Harassment In The Workplace" and how Frank (The Master of Guitar Feedback) holds the note and custom tailors the feedback from his Strat to fit the room he's playing. I also enjoy "One Size Fits All". Once you've gotten through these, your curiosity will take it from there. Cheers!Calvin & his Hitchhikers

Lionel's picture

The difficulty everyone has with Zappa is that the dude was one of the most prolific composers of the century.The two routes into Zappa are Hot Rats (1969) and Freak Out! (1965). Hot Rats is a cool-as-all-hell jazzy/rocky/bluesy *thing* that includes one track with Captain Beefheart on vocals. As a pimp named Willie. It is both the most accessible of Zappa's albums and one of the two or three best. Lots of great guitar. Freak Out is his first album. It has lots of weird songs (Hungry Freaks Daddy and Who Are the Brain Police being my favorites) and way more music/weirdness than anyone else except the Velvets was doing in 1965. If you go for either of those two, you will inevitably next get either Overnight Sensation (1973) or Apostrophe (1974). Both are jazz/rock sets which have a couple of the weirdo songs and a few longish jams. Excellent records both.After that, there's lots of room to explore. The man released something like 50 albums during his life, and none of them is a co