Lovin' Cup plays host to The GrandMothers of Invention

12:09 PM, Jul 08, 2013

Napoleon Murphy Brock (Hassan Quali//Provided photo)/


Written By Jeff Spevak | Staff music critic

In 1967, when Don Preston joined Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, the No. 1 song in the nation was The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer.” The notoriously iconoclastic Zappa paid it no mind, instead releasing the counterculture masterpiece We’re Only in it For the Money.

In 1974, when Napoleon Murphy Brock joined the Mothers, the No. 1 song in the nation was Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were.” But again the band failed to pick up on the pop trend of the day, having just released one of Zappa’s most musically complex albums, the somewhat live Roxy & Elsewhere.

A handful of ensembles have been keeping alive the music of Zappa, who passed away in 1993. Some have legit claims to the music, such as Zappa’s son Dweezil, who played his father’s music last summer for the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. But with The GrandMothers of Invention, Preston and Brock claim to be the only Zappa band now touring with two members of The Mothers of Invention. They play 9 p.m. Wednesday at Lovin’ Cup Bistro & Brews, 300 Park Point Drive, Henrietta, near the Rochester Institute of Technology campus.

Murphy won a 2008 rock instrumental Grammy for his tenor sax work on “Peaches in Regalia,” from Dweezil Zappa’s tribute album Zappa Plays Zappa.

The GrandMothers’ first set will be the 1974 album One Size Fits All. Defined by musicologists as “Third Period Zappa,” it’s a collection of circus prog and non-sequitur delights such as “Evelyn, a Modified Dog.”

The band has proven quite popular at European jazz festivals, so the song “Sofa” will be performed in both English and German.

The GrandMothers’ second set is a collection of surreal psychedelia, avant-garde jazz, dissonance and things that actually sound like traditional songs (although nothing that approaches “The Way We Were”). All are drawn from the vast Zappa catalog.

The GrandMothers first performed in Germany in 2003 with four Mothers alumni: Preston, Brock, Roy Estrada and Bunk Gardner. On this tour, Preston (listed as vocals, tenor sax, flute, suavenicity and dancing) and Brock (keyboards, synthesizers, electronics, vocals, iPod and magic tricks) will be joined by guitarist Dave Johnsen, bassist Max Kutner and drummer Christopher Garcia.

Tickets are $22 advance, $25 the day of the show, and are available at the venue and the Bop Shop.