The Stinkfoot Orchestra featuring Ike Willis at Miners Foundry on April 27

Thursday, April 27th The Stinkfoot Orchestra featuring Ike Willis brings the music of Frank Zappa to Miners Foundry starting at 8 p.m.,  but don’t call them a tribute band!

The Stinkfoot Orchestra featuring Ike Willis at Miners Foundry

Founded by 35-year veteran of the South Bay Music scene, Nick Chargin, the Stinkfoot Orchestra is a 14-piece tribute to the music of Frank Zappa unlike any other. “The colloquial sense of a tribute doesn’t capture what we’re doing,” says Chargin. “The amount of time and energy we’ve dedicated to getting this under our fingers sets us apart.”

It’s the same kind of precision that stops anyone from thinking of Yo-Yo Ma as a tribute to, say, Chopin. “It’s a dedication to detail, orchestrating horn arrangements and tuned percussion lines,” Chargin explained. “We’re dedicated to presenting the material with integrity, the way Frank would have wanted it to be heard.”

The Stinkfoot Orchestra has a strong sense of whether they are meeting that standard, as alumni from Frank Zappa’s original band often join them onstage. The show at Miners Foundry will feature Ike Willis, the voice of Joe from Joe’s Garage, and the musician who spent the most years making music with Frank. His unmistakable baritone brings an immediate sense of familiarity to the music of The Stinkfoot Orchestra.

The level of authenticity these alumni bring keeps even Chargin to an exacting standard, “There are times the alumni will be adamant about something in the music. I choose my battles wisely” Chargin laughed.

The ensemble pulls no punches in re-creating the sound Frank Zappa himself played, employing a 6-piece horn section and tuned percussion to recreate arrangements that hearken back to Zappa’s final touring ensemble. But even old fans of Zappa or The Stinkfoot Orchestra won’t be guaranteed a familiar show. Chargin explained, “Our arrangements tend to be compilations – we’re going for the ‘88 sound – but constantly trying to add material, to give a fresh show totally different from the last time we were there.”

Fans make clear that dedication has paid off, “The response has been humbling,” said an emotional Chargin as he recalled people coming up to thank him after shows. “It reminded me of seeing Dweezil [Zappa] playing his Dad’s music, I just had to thank him for keeping it alive.”

Chargin recalled his first exposure to the satirical music of Frank Zappa as a formative experience, “Like many thirteen year-old boys, I was caught by his lyrics. It’s the comedy that catches you at first, but as you listen more and more – it’s different. Not your average pop song. You’re kept by the uniqueness.”

Chargin isn’t the only musician caught by the uniqueness of Zappa’s sound. He credits bands like Phish, who are outspoken about Frank’s influence on them, he said,  “We get a lot of younger people, younger hippies who are getting back to their roots.” For the uninitiated, Chargin described the music of Frank Zappa as “Pop sensibilities, but it’s gonna be weird. Some of them are gonna be weird. Frank mixed stuff up all the time.” 

It’s not drawing a young, open-minded crowd to see the tribute, that concerns Chargrin, he is assured the music will do that. He wants to address the person who thinks they’ve heard Frank Zappa and doesn’t like him, “[They] just haven’t heard the right song yet. There’s so much out there, it’s so diverse. I’ve had multiple people come up to me after shows saying, ‘I got dragged here by my husband, friend, whoever, but now I like him.” As to what changed their minds? Chargin said, “You’ll just have to see for yourself.”

For Immediate Contact:  David Lloyd, david@minersfoundry.org 

For more information about coming events:  www.minersfoundry.org


WHO: The Stinkfoot Orchestra

WHERE: Miners Foundry, 325 Spring Street, Nevada City, CA 95959, Call (530) 265-5040

WHEN: Thursday, April 24th at 8:00pm

HOW: $25 in Advance / $30 at the Door. Advance price closes at 4:00 p.m. the day of the show.

Available online, by phone or in person at the Miners Foundry Box Office:
325 Spring Street, Nevada City, CA 95959 Tuesday – Friday | 9:00am – 4:00pm  

The Miners Foundry Cultural Center is a living historic treasure serving Nevada County as a cultural art and community events center. More than a venue, the nonprofit’s mission is to preserve, enhance and utilize the historic Miners Foundry for cultural, educational, and social activities in Nevada County. It is a symbol of California’s rich historical heritage, providing an educational and social bridge from our past to the present and future.

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