Friday, August 10, 2012

The Grandmothers of Invention are, from left, Miroslav Tadic, Tom Fowler, Napoleon Murphy Brock, Chris Garcia, and Don Preston. For last night's Sellersville perfomance, Tadic was replaced by Robert Mangano.

The Grandmothers of Invention played a terrific set last night at the Sellersville Theater. The band consisted of members of the 60s and 70s versions of the Mothers of Invention — Don Preston, who will be 80 next month, Tom Fowler, and Napoleon Murphy Brock — plus relative newcomers Chris Garcia on drums and Robert Mangano in Frank Zappa, on guitar. The group performed the Roxy album almost in its entirety (minus “Be-Bop Tango") plus several other favorites including "Oh, No," "San Ber'dino," "Debra Cadabra" and a medley from Burnt Weeny Sandwich. (The repertoire did not extend beyond the mid-1970s.)

Napoleon served as ringmaster, and was, in general, a more genial host than I remember Frank ever being.

The little theater was only about a third full, though the people who did attend, including some in their teens, were obviously fans. I could see their lips moving in the dark as they sang along to most of the numbers. Knowledge of the lyrics was a plus, since the amplification made them to understand. My companion for the evening, who did not know Zappa’s work, said that while the music put her in a good mood after a very bad day, she had a hard time following the words. A pity, since one can't fully appreciate "Penguin in Bondage" without a grasp of the subject matter. .

Thanks, guys. And thanks, too, for autographing my copy of the Roxy CD. Cal Schenkel was also introduced from the audience, but he slipped out while I was still standing in line waiting to meet the band.

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