Your dad is not only famous but adored, revered, often beyond the bounds of common sense, by a large, loyal and vocal fan base. You're an excellent musician in your own right, but you've inherited little of the old man's creativity, and your recorded output is patchy. In terms of public perception, at least, you're destined to live out your life in your father's shadow. How on earth do you deal with this?
Here's a novel idea: why not embrace it?
It's tough to evaluate Dweezil Zappa's Zappa Plays Zappa, which I saw last night at one of Melbourne's least rockin' venues, Hamer Hall. I went in expecting...well, I don't know what I was expecting. As a friend put it, the show was either going to be a cheesy cash-in or a loving tribute; fortunately it turned out to be the latter. I didn't like everything about the show - there were things I wish they'd done differently, songs I wish they'd played but didn't, songs I wish they hadn't played but did - but I liked most of it and thought a good deal of it was brilliant.
Basically what Dweezil has done is put together a killer band, rope in some old stagers from Frank's various touring outfits (the Australian tour features vocalist/guitarist Ray White and fretboard-wanker extradinaire Steve Vai), and absorb as much of Frank's soloing technique as possible to provide a familiar anchor for the audience. Last night's setlist was mostly dirty rockers and extended guitar jams, which I found a touch disappointing given the show started with an incredible performance of "Dog Meat" (link is to a video of the orchestral version). Still, it was all good. The band were great (marimbas! whammy bars! Scheila Gonzalez playing two saxophones at once!), the set was varied, the jokes were (mostly) funny, the audience enamored. The only thing missing was "Inca Roads" - and, of course, Frank.
In contrast to his father, live footage of whom was projected judiciously throughout the show, Dweezil is relaxed, even self-effacing, on stage. It was touching to watch Dweezil tearing through a guitar solo while he watched Frank tearing through the same solo up on the big screen. But Dweezil is no dummy - tribute was paid to Frank, but for the most part the music was allowed to stand without overt reference to its composer. Zappa Plays Zappa was entertaining but it was also admirable in its restrained but genuine sentimentality, its playful yet subtly deferential approach. Dweezil deserves respect as musician and band leader, but also as custodian of a particular strand of Frank's music. It's hard to imagine anybody other than Frank himself doing the job better.