Friday, February 10, 2012

Captain Beefheart Festival 2011-2012

In the spirit of the Zappadan Festival, in which we celebrate each year the life and music of Frank Zappa from the date of his death to the date of his birth, I propose we do the same for Don Van Vliet.

January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010

Fans need no introduction, others can read the extensive Wikipedia entry. My own experience with his genius is this.

Although I was born in 1953, and experienced the music and culture of the 60s and 70s like everybody else of my generation, I somehow never got into Zappa or Beefheart. My friends and I were into other things, Jimi, Janice, The Doors and a little bit later, The Yes Group and Queen. 35 years passed in the blink of an eye and one day in 2009 I discovered the Zappadan Festival.  That prompted a full immersion in the many albums of FZ, which as everyone knows can keep one very busy for a very long time. Naturally this activity led me to Captain Beefheart.  I've never been the same since, music appreciation-wise.

Notice the dates are off, and so it will be this year. The Captain would probably approve, in the same way he couldn't stand pop music with a 4/4 beat, he'd probably like this delayed start. Also, later this year, there will be a slight overlap between the Zappadan Festival, which runs from December 4th through the 21st and the Captain Beefheart Festival which will go from December 17th to January 15th, a slight but appropriate overlap like their lives and careers. Hopefully no Zappadan purists will object, I see it as a smooth and natural transition which could take us into the new year.

Well, here we go, let's say till the end of the month.  Then in December we'll really take off.

Dachau blues those poor jews
Dachau blues those poor jews
Down in Dachau blues, down in Dachau blues
Still cryin' 'bout the burnin' back in world war two's
One mad man six million lose
Down in Dachau blues down in Dachau blues
Dachau blues, Dachau blues those poor jews
The world can't forget that misery
'n the young ones now beggin' the old ones please
t' stop bein' madmen
'fore they have t' tell their children
'bout the burnin' back in World War Three's
War One was balls 'n powder 'n blood 'n snow
War Two rained death 'n showers 'n skeletons
Danced 'n screamin' 'n dyin' in the ovens
Cough 'n smoke 'n dyin' by the dozens
Down in Dachau blues
Down in Dachau blues
Three little children with doves on their shoulders
Their eyes rolled back in ecstasy cryin'
Please old man stop this misery
They're countin' out the devil
With two fingers on their hands
Beggin' the Lord don't let the third one land
On World War Three
On World War Three


  1. well, sure nuff n yes n'deed...the captain really deserves his own festival. zappa and beefheart were teenage buddies. have you ever heard the zappa "lost episodes" collection? There is a piece at the beginning of Don (the captain), Frank and his older brother Bob Zappa playing in a Lancaster, CA high school room in 1959. It's a brilliant improvised surreal blues song called, "lost in a whirlpool".... The sounds that this 16 year old kid could make with his still adolescent larnyx!
    Then, there is another piece from 1962, full blown beefheartian vocals called Tiger Roach!
    I'll write more, but tonight, I'm totally whacked from a day in the tundral Dordogne weather. I have a barn full of hay and we were missions of mercy all day delivering hay to some cows whose owner can't even get up here, a number of my friends horses scattered on different plots of land and the neighbors donkeys...we even had to haul water up for the donkeys because their normal source was frozen solid...this has been an exciting week, I feel as if I am back in Michigan.

  2. there, I posted something on my blog...a rarely if ever seen side of Captain Beefheart...he sings real purdy....
    I'm not sure what to call a Beefheart festival, but this is The Night Of The Living Van Vliet.......

  3. I've been booglarized again. This sounds like a great idea, count me in.