Here's a letter from Andre' Cholmondeley, who is the leader and founder of one of the original and most recognizable Zappa cover bands, Project/Object. The story you are about to read is disgustingly and horrifyingly true!
I've always said that Dweezil is his mother's son. Here's proof.
This is why I will never patronize a Zappa Plays Zappa show ever again (unless Frank himself comes back)!
Sorry -- this became kind of a long letter, but it helped me exorcise some real negative shit. It took me two hours.
I was working for ADRIAN BELEW, opening for ZPZ at Ottawa Bluesfest, Canada (Sat 5 July 2008)
Stuff turned REAL ugly.....
Basically---- one of Dweezil Zappa's guys, under his direct orders - threatened, pushed and physically attacked me.... !
For the horrible act of walking onto the stage to watch and enjoy the show. Really.
I should consider legal action actually..it was ...real ugly. real scary. I was shaking like a leaf... They have sued me many times, tried to at least. Should I return the favor? I ask your advice -- should I seek legal action?? I have countless witnesses, I was at work in a professional capacity. Canada law on this is actually quite bad news for someone who would want to work here again....I could cripple the Zappa family financially, real bad news since they are losing their shirts trying to do these tours, pay cuts, playing smaller and smaller venues etc isn't helping from what I hear.
Their Monitor guy, Dave, almost shoved me off the stage, a 10 to 15ft drop, so scary. Scenes of "broken leg in London Orchestra pit" may dance through your head......
These people actually had a MEETING on THE BUS...Tour Manager, Dweezil, crew, etc. Wrap your mind around the level off dysfunction -- to have a fucking MEETING about a guy you hate --- a guy who has never really done anything but piss you off for some reason. Imagine being so unprofessional -- and self-important -- to think that a HUGE festival, should do your bidding and ban people from public areas. I know - Unreal. - But -- par for the course in Post-Mortem Zappa-land. No surprise. Bullying at every turn.
After a meeting on the bus --Dweezil then demanded from the Festival stage manager (ONE HOUR before their show!!) that I would NOT BE SEEN by him (Dweezil).....!! he asked that he NOT SEE ME AT ALL, EVER, throughout the night. I can't wait to see when he delivers to the shocked people at TODAY's festival the same pompous request.
The incredible, pro stage mgr guy, Wiggy, from the Ottawa Bluesfest, ensured cooler heads prevailed all night. I hope we work together again.
Ok, Now, this is a GIANT festival with about 230 bands...11 days.... we are on a fucking SIDE STAGE -- and Dweezil DEMANDS of the festival staff- ONE HOUR BEFORE HIS SHOW - to KEEP ME OFF THE STAGE (even the side stage, monitor area, backstage, etc!!) and make sure he (DWEEZIL) NEVER SEE ME!!!! Can you even wrap your mind around that??? he wanted to CONTROL the attendance - at a public event he is getting paid to be at - of someone he is soooo pissed at. Unreal.
The (very cool) stage manager , when I asked him -- said " Dude - no, I have NO PROBLEM with you going into the AUDIENCE and watching them, front row, whatever. I just have to respect these guys and ask you to stay off the stage.
I wanna run a smooth show - I am here for 11 days, I have no time for issues"
As you all know-- I'm a fucking PRO, and I of course honored the request -- I stayed off stage. But this is after FINDING OUT for the first time....with the prick monitor guy SCREAMING IN MY FACE AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS -- SPITTING IN MY GODDAMN FACE...and pushing me backwards to the edge.... it was terrifying and I've seen a lot of dark shit in this life, trust me on that.
It was unreal. Surreal. The best part is -- before ZPZ played - BELEW played--- and I had met this very same guy - Dave - monitor guy -- and he was COOL!! We were rapping, talking gear, he showed me a pic on his computer of his guitar-rig..which featured the same amp that Adrian uses (Johnson JM 150), like good nerds we chuckled about that as well as his computer gadget his laptop sat on...some device with 2 fans to cool it off, blah blah blah. We talked about him being new on the crew, after I said "Napoleon says hi" --"oh no -- that was the old guy, I am new since last year, etc etc"....We talked all kinds of stuff -- later he claimed "Well I thought you were just acting like nothing was going on". Wow.
So-- SAME GUY turn into a RAGING PSYCHO 2 hrs later!!!! He literally almost pushed me off the stage and down some steps. It was scary shit. I can't emphazise that enough. I am shaking still, almost 12 hrs later as i type this after 4 hrs sleep.
I'm not easily shaken, you know that. But I drive 5 hrs today -- to another fest where ZPZ again plays right after us --- and I dunno how it will turn out.
I went to the monitor guy after the show and said "Dude, do you have something to say to me"??
He copped TONS of attitude, but I actually got him to begrudgingly apologize, I accepted it, kinda, since he claimed he had been TOLD by up to 6 people that I was FULLY INFORMED of my "persona non grata" status. Well- I wasn't informed.
The FIRST TIME I knew about ANY of this crap was when he violently accosted me!!
I think I will call the next P/O tour by that title. --- PERSONA NON GRATA.
how do you like it??
I feel extra let down that I wasn't warned, wasn't told. Joe Travers, the bass player Pete and other crew/band members said hi, some shook my hand, we rapped. I - as I always try to -- will give the benefit of the doubt that each person thought "Oh - I thought Someone ELSE told him". I feel sorry for these people -- including my hero Thomas Nordegg -- thee greatest guitar tech in the Solar System, who I had a lovely time hanging with all afternoon before I loaded in.
I feel sorry that they are all caught between the horrible pressure of being told to DISS ME as part of their job....and knowing me for years and knowing who and what I really am. Terrible - to put people in that position. But that's how tyrants operate. Pitting people against each other. It's worked for centuries. Check the history books.
OK. whatever. But does the 'adult' monitor guy need to have dealt with it that way??? Screaming at the TOP of his lungs, spitting his filthy fucking spit in my face, pushing me backwards in shock?? Later he even justified the screaming (!!) --- "hey my in-ear monitors were on". Yeah right. Any pro engineer knows how loud they are talking!! Ridiculous. Dude has major issues and I will make sure I deal with him today with lost of witnesses around.
Now -- I'm not gloating here but.......I'm The guy who, Unlike Dweezil Zappa, has shared the stage with more Zappa alumni and family than almost ANYONE BUT FRANK ZAPPA ..people like Ike Willis, Napoleon Murphy Brock, Candy Zappa, Ed Mann, Roy Estrada, Mike Keneally, Adrian Belew, Denny Walley, Don Preston, Bunk Gardner, Bob Harris, Thana Harris, Jimmy Carl Black, Billy Mundi, Ray White, Al Malkin, Arthur Barrow, Bruce Bickford and more.
Actually only someone like the amazing Ed Mann, Ike Willis, Scott Thunes or Chad Wackerman has been onstage with more people -- due to their LONG tenure in the band (over 21 years for Ed and about 7-10 years for Chad/Scott/Ike)
I'm not gloating. It's called PRIDE. I am proud I have dedicated a part of my musical life, just one part -- to paying back to a man who changed my life - Frank Zappa.
An amazing, genius man I was lucky enough to shake hands with several times, look in his eyes from 3 feet away, tell him a joke or two, walk up to at a concert and give a funny sign to (feb 1988 , wash DC) that made him laugh his ass off (cherished memory!! Making Zappa laugh!!! C'mon - can it get better??!!!)
A man who asked on his deathbed for people, musicians or not - to PLAY HIS MUSIC!! Frank asked for that -- I have always tried to honor that request. I am PROUD of engineering a SOLD OUT show at Irving Plaza, Halloween 2001, raising TEN GRAND for Prostate Cancer research (a show that owes much credit to my great management team at CEG Music in NYC and the great Matt Ross, now CEO of Paul Green School of Rock). I am PROUD of getting many , many alumni out of RETIREMENT and back onstage. I am PROUD of paying my way, losing money to go all the way to my beloved Germany, to play music and hang out with THOUSANDS of Freaks...at the Zappanale festival -now being SUED by Gail Zappa as well.
I'm proud of my work in this area. No one can or will ever take that away from me. Frank Zappa changed my WORLD at age 16.....and I am very very proud to have had the chance to meet most of his players, to call them all my friends to this day. I am proud to have his original family members as cherished friends. I say this not to impress anyone but to add perspective. No one reading this is unaware of the dark energy that has emanated from Zappa central in recent years. It's a thing of real concern.
PS: This is the core of what pisses them off. They have BURNT EVERY BRIDGE with most of the Zappa alumni and family -- and they hate themselves for it. They know they've BLOWN IT and insulted Frank's Legacy. They know they can NEVER turn back -- can never celebrate his deep kinship with so, so many people.
They know that Musicians they have sued, dissed in the press, not paid, ignored as they stood in the audience at ZPZ shows...won't take that crap and will not ever work with them. I have kept silent about THAT part of things for YEARS...but being physically threatened by Dweezil's crew CROSSES A LINE that I can never go back over. Sorry, Dweezil. You should have thought about your actions. Right now they are in court with the ZAPPANALE...they have sent cease and desist letters to Bogus Pomp and other bands, they keep going after the Grandmothers...suing TV stations....it doesn't end with me -- and that's how I sleep at night -- IT'S NOT JUST ME!!!
As peaceful as a person as I am----I cannot sit by with this crap - It's been OVER TEN YEARS of attacks, insulting emails from Gail, LAWSUIT THREATS, threats to some alumni who play with us, falsified, libelous letters from ASCAP/, and watching the SAME happen to many friends and colleagues WORLDWIDE. It's scary, downright scary. The "Zappa" "Family" feels it can just go around suing, attacking, and trying to squash the truth -- but reality and truth have a way of bubbling up.
Why has EVERY SINGLE LAWSUIT filed against me by Gail Zappa been thrown out ?? Why did i win in NY State Court AGAINST Gail Zappa and ASCAP? because their claims are baseless. My band stays within acceptable US and international law where applicable -- performing the music of a composer in certified venues. End of Story.
I write this to all of you -- in case some dark shit goes down today (Sun, 6 July 2008) at the 2nd festival, in Quebec City QC. I will go there - do my job -- and stay out of the way. I haven't decided yet if I will watch the music --some of my favorite music ever -- from the audience, up front, as I deserve. But we'll see.
My boss--my amazing friend actually -- Mr. Adrian Belew -- has not decided if he will perform on one song today with them. I can;'t speak for him but he is upset -- and feels caught between some painful stuff. Again-- the method of pitting people against each other is in play.
I Urged Adrian to do whatever he feels is right -- and to forget about this (I know- impossible). But he knows that I will not at all be upset if he gets onstage with them, well, with Dweezil. You know why?? Because from BEGINNING TO END -- I have always been about one goddamned thing - FRANK and HIS MUSIC...and about YOU -- the fans and alumni! that's all!!! Every last one of you on here, many who have celebrated Frank's amazing music with me and my band....KNOW THAT. And I thank you again -- and hope we meet again in music.
I also thank, deeply, a blood relative of Frank's who will remain nameless -- who related to me 2 days ago, before all this - in email an old saying:
"They .....will get you sick before you get them well.
(this person added the words........)
"I urge you to protect your beautiful mind from the psychic poison, of which there is a never ending supply.
Great stuff. This made my day. I am trying to do that, my friend. I am trying real hard. You got me through yesterday in many ways and your words will echo all day as I deal with another encounter with this dysfunctional camp.
This letter is public domain. Spread It to others if you feel the need. Post it on forums. Delete it if you don't care. But ponder it as another chapter in this crazy, post-mortem, mis-handling of Frank's legacy. Horrible.
I will get it on my blog soon at http://robotvomit. blogspot. com/
PS -Believe it or not --- when I heard about us opening for ZPZ -- after getting over the shock and apprehension, I decided that if I saw Dweezil, I would walk up to him and say "hey man... I know there's lots of water under the bridge..but it's GREAT what you have done and are doing...and just fantastic how you have celebrated your dad's music - Thank You.
Ike Willis, Napoleon Murphy Brock and others are my witness on that, I told them of my intent over a month ago. I was taking the high road -- I greeted every single one of Dweezil's crew with honor and respect -- I genuinely loved meeting the ones I didn't know -- I stayed and watched their show (missing most of Steely Dan, ouch!!) - even after all the crap. I watched, invisibly, from the backstage grounds near stage left. I kept myself unseen. I honored the festival stage manager's requests - great guy. I'm about the music and I want you to know that always. But this crap can't be allowed.
Help me-- should I be suing them?? Should I walk away and just keep living my life at as high a spiritual level as I can manage?? Don't worry -- will go into today's encounter peacefully -- a very , very difficult day lies ahead.
Tour Manager/Guitar Tech - Adrian Belew Power Trio
Founder/Guitarist/Grey Hairs - PROJECT/OBJECT - the longest running, internationally touring Zappa repertoire band. Actually Respecting the Alumni Who Made the Music Come Alive.