First, RIP Steve Jobs. I go way back with Apple, maybe a little too far back. My dad brought home an Apple II to check out, because he was going to be using it as part of his classroom work. He taught Electronics and wanted this new “personal computing” stuff to be part of the curriculum. The school got some Apple hardware, and My dad brought one home to work on classroom stuff… So I got my hands on a very early Apple product. What I remember was it had a 40 column greenscreen display and no lower case. It was still the nicest computer I had seen. Before that it was a teletype console and acoustic coupler (to the Yale mainframe), or this trashed Hex Programming Trainer (probably Heathkit) that I forced to do four-function math (in hex). Anyhow, Apple has been through a real rollercoaster existence, but the company that we now know is very much about Jobs. I kept away from the Apple line until they ditched the System-7 thing, and when they switched to OS X, I jumped back in. Great OS, better hardware, and they had the sense to ditch all that old spaghetti-code under the hood of the old Apple OS. As well, they survived, and thrived, a CPU family switch, which looked like it could be a deal breaker. Nope. It was a deal maker. It proved that you could have a killer desktop OS on an Intel CPU. Something that M$ has yet to find a fucking way to make happen. Thanks, Steve. You Rocked It.
Switching gears, Zappa is the gift that keeps on giving. I think I was about 13 when I first heard a Mothers album, and have been pretty consistent in absorbing Zappa music since. About 34 years later I am still having regular epiphanies regarding Conceptual Continuity. The man left a shockingly deep catalog of great music. Even the songs I don’t like, I see where they fit in as I keep listening. I recently checked out an unreleased album called Chalk Pie. It kinda runs like a low-budget YCDTOSA release, but it has some killer music on it. First off, it might be Exhibit A in “How Great Was Scott Thunes, Really?” The answer: really freakin’ amazing. Especially in the early 80’s before the bullshit of the ’88 Tour went down. Scott plays some brutally hard passages with great fluidity, and you can hear that he is doing what Zappa wanted him to do. Each player in the history of Zappa bands had a whole different set of challenges from the player preceding them. In this case it is Scott, Chad Wackerman, Tommy Mars, Ed Mann and Steve Vai… And they are all playing hard-ass parts and kicking ass while doing it. I really dig that band before it got all tarted up with extra instrumentation…. But about Thunes: Even a piece like Jazz Discharge Party Hats was an eye-opener for me. It is nothing more than a Sprechgesang vocal, doubled on bass. Really stripped down, kinda funny, kinda runs on for a while… Not my favorite FZ piece, but damn, not only does FZ sing the part, but Scott nails the doubling part. Sounds easy? It Ain’t. It is like a crystalline example of the FZ vocal-based-melody principle. Neat.
Another gear change: One of the realizations that I am having Post-Rochefort is that I was lucky to get through that festival in once piece, and I will have to be more organized if I go back. I may also have to be more demanding and let some of my organizational freak-flag fly. I think I extended myself too much, too far in advance of the gig, in musical genre that I am not in practice on. I also let a lot of decision-making slide (I was the FNG, and not there to make decisions) and it made it impossible for me to handle all the demands I was agreeing to. So I either need to put in a lot more time branching out of my comfort zone, or be more particular about what I say “yes” to, or both. Also, it was still a wild ride and I am still buzzing from it.