City Slang: Grandmothers at the Magic Bag



So here’s a story for ya. I was wandering from my car to the Magic Bag in Ferndale on Thursday evening, when I noticed a rather odd looking older gentleman ambling in front of me. He was wearing green sweat pants pulled up high above his waist, and what looked like a fanny pack. “You don’t see that every day,” I thought. Then I noticed him wander into the Bag and engage the door man in a conversation about the fancy car parked outside.

Next time I saw him, he was playing keys on stage, dressed up in an Asian looking smock and a tie-dye bandana. He was and is Don Preston, original Mother of Invention and current Grandmother on Invention. Alongside fellow former Mother Napoleon Murphy Brock, Preston is taking the music of Frank Zappa around the country again.

Now, I had no intention of blogging this show because it’s not a local band. This one was purely for my own personal joy. However, I learned something tonight. Preston is a Detroiter. The man was born in Flint, and his father was the composer-in-residence for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. When Preston says from the stage, “this is my home town,” he might not be talking about Ferndale but he’s displaying no small amount of pride for the D.

And we should be proud of him. He was one of Frank’s Mothers, for fuck’s sake. These dudes can still rip too. Tonight, the material is pulled largely from the One Size Fits All album, with a few gems from We’re Only In It For the Money thrown in too.

We get the greats, from “Sofa No.1” and “Evelyn, a Modified Dog” to “Can’t Afford No Shoes” and the closing “Po-Jama People”. Frank Zappa can’t ever be replaced, but his music deserves to be played on a stage, well, by some of the people who played it with him. The fact that there’s a Detroiter in the ranks only adds to the kudos points with us.

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