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Zappa Meets Zappa and Me

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Sometimes in life you think you know what’s what about something, but you really don’t. It happens all the time and it happened to me when I first thought I knew about Frank Zappa. I probably heard Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow at a friend’s house in middle school or I saw the iconic image of his face and one-of-a-kind facial hair in Rolling Stone. Whatever the case, I created an image in my head of this guy who played whacky music with funny lyrics, and I liked him. I also thought that that was all there was to him, but I was wrong.

Fast forward to after I graduated college and sometime in my early 20s, I started getting super into collecting records. I lived in Washington DC at the time, and I would spend Saturdays riding my bike around the District and stopping at 4 or 5 record stores to waste away the day. I also attended quite a few record fairs, which were frequent and major in the city, which exposed me to all types of music.

One day at a DC record fair, an album caught my eye. It was Shut Up ‘n Play Yer Guitar by Frank Zappa, so I bought it and plopped it on my record player when I got home. To my surprise, the album didn’t include whacky music with funny lyrics; instead, it was simply a collection of Frank Zappa guitar solos that shredded the wallpaper off my crappy apartment walls. I was blown away and I realized in that moment that I had been wrong about Frank. There was so much more to him and his music, and I was hungry to consume all things Zappa and catch up on lost time.

I immediately became obsessed and determined to buy all his earlier records, and in doing so, I learned about legendary albums like Hot Rats, Waka/Jawaka and Chunga’s Revenge. His sound was unique and unmatched, raw and out of control. I fell in love, deeply, and that affection hasn’t waned over time – it has only gotten stronger.

As an ode my devotion, I created the penname Zank Frappa, which is what I use to post on Thirsty Vinyl. I even convinced my wife and kids to name our family dog Zappa, a fitting name for a wild and lovable vizsla.

Recommended Album, Food and Beer Pairings

Artist & Album: Frank Zappa - Hot Rats

Recorded in July-August 1969 in Los Angeles

Produced by Frank Zappa

Fun Fact: Hot Rats was the 1st Zappa album recorded on 16-track equipment, which was a relatively new technology in the late 60s and which allowed for much more flexibility in multi-tracking and overdubbing (compared to 4 and 8-track reel-to-reel tape recorders) leading to a richer, more complex sound.

Beer Pairing: Further, The Veil

What better beer to pair with Hot Rats than The Veil’s Further? Loaded with locally grown plump and juicy peaches plus nectarines, this Belgian Lambic-inspired beer is funky and aged to perfection through 4 years of hanging out in oak barrels and an additional year aging in its bottle. Next time you’re hanging out with friends, pour a Further, sit back and enjoy some Peaches En Regalia.

Artist & Album: Frank Zappa - Waka/Jawaka

Recorded in April-May 1972 in Los Angeles

Produced by Frank Zappa

Fun Fact: According to Frank, the title of this album was derived from something that showed up on a Ouija board.

Beer Pairing: Waka/Jawaka, Four Quarters Brewing

This pairing just makes too much sense to pass up. Next time you give Waka/Jawaka a spin, crack open an ice-cold Waka/Jawaka from Vermont’s own, Four Quarters Brewing, an American IPA with complexity that matches Zappa’s 4th solo album.

Artist & Album: Frank Zappa - Chunga's Revenge

Recorded in July-August 1970 in Los Angeles

Produced by Frank Zappa

Fun Fact:The title track was later recorded by Argentinian/Parisian tango revival group Gotan Project for their 2001 debut album La Revancha del Tango.

Beer Pairing: Why Does It Hurt When IPA?, Duck Foot Brewing

A collaborative effort between the ZAPPA TRUST and San Diego-based Duckfoot Brewing produced Why Does It Hurt When IPA?, which was launched last December 21st on Frank Zappa’s birthday. This west coast-style IPA is brewed with Zappa, Simcoe and Cascade hops, with jazzy notes of passion fruit, spice and grapefruit, which was a favorite of Frank’s.


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