I've always been aware that there was a world of music on the edge of my periphery that just seemed to daunting to explore for a long time.
That's the hefty, varied discography of one Frank Zappa. And even though Zappa's been dead nearly 20 years, his music endures and has a worldwide audience that isn't going away.
So on Tuesday night, I found myself at Salt Lake City's State Room with about 180 enthusiastic Zappa fans watching former members of Zappa's Mothers of Invention - Napoleon Murphy Brock, keyboard wizard Don Preston and bassist Tom Fowler. Rounding out the quintet were guitar star Robbie Seahag Mangano - filling Zappa's shoes on the six-string is no ho-hum task - and drummer Christopher Garcia.
Some Zappa favorites including "Peaches En Regalia, "Carolina Hardcore Fantasy" and "Sofa I" were trotted out to wild enthusiasm from the audience, which hung on every note. Big highlights - and everything was well-played because the onstage musicianship was beyond question - included "More Trouble Everyday" and the second-set triple blast of "Village of the Sun/Echinda's Arf (of You)/Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?".
Led by the smiling, infectious Brock and his acrobatic vocals and dead-on sax playing, the band was effortlessly and endlessly impressive particularly the 79-year-old Preston, who has played with everyone from Nat King Cole to John Lennon. Preston routinely played standout, atmospheric solos.
For the first time ever, I feel like I really get the Zappa vibe, which is the lyrical irreverence is brought on because they can play circles around 99 percent of rock bands, so they might as well have a laugh in the process. And that's not a bad concept as Zappa's music doesn't appear to be going anywhere. As Brock opined during Tuesday's show,"this music was ahead of its time, and it still is."