Joe Travers frank zappa

Joe Travers, the Zappa Vaultmeister

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Drummer Joe Travers joins fellow Frank Zappa Band alumni Ray White and Mike Kenneally for a headlining gig at the Ardmore Music Hall

When The Zappa Band hits Ardmore Music Hall on June 22 on its first-ever large scale headlining tour of multiple Frank Zappa ensemble alumni, the show, featuring Zappa’s longtime vocalist Ray White and guitarist Mike Kenneally, will be something of a homecoming for its drummer, Joe Travers. 

“It’s all about the ensemble. That’s what Frank told me, repeatedly,” said White during a StreamYard interview. “Joe’s part of that ensemble.”

Though Joe Travers’ work had previously been centered on his work with guitarist Dweezil Zappa’s music in tribute to his father Frank Zappa, the Philly-based drummer’s true calling comes in his role as co-producer and Vaultmeister in connection with The Zappa Family Trust and Dweezil’s brother, Ahmet, in releasing and re-releasing studio rarities, celebrating anniversary packages and finding, lost live Frank Zappa work.

Joe Travers frank zappa

With that locality, this week’s release of “Erie/Zappa” – three shows performed in Erie, and the surrounding area between 1974 to 1976 funneled into a six-disc boxed set/digital collection featuring over seven hours of music from three different lineups – is extra special for Joe Travers.

“It was, and is, an immense honor to have been chosen to man the vaults,” said Travers via StreamYard about being brought into the Zappa family fold, first, by Frank Zappa’s wife, Gail. “There is enough in Frank’s vault – he recorded everything – to keep me busy for three lifetimes.”

Long a favorite of Zappa bootleggers, the Erie shows were already exemplary in their sound before Travers, Ahmet Zappa and their team cleaned up the professionally recorded 4-track tapes from 1974 through 1976. Along with era-related posters in the physical box set, the disc collection comes with extensive liner notes from legendary Erie, PA journalist, Dan Schell, the author of “9 Years of Rock: The Story of The Concerts at The Erie County Fieldhouse”. The liner note-filled Erie booklet even includes an autographed polaroid of Zappa that Travers’ mom purchased for young Joe at a local Erie garage sale in the 90s.

“Growing up in Erie, this collective was a real passion project,” said Joe Travers who nearly fell out of his chair when he saw the word, “Erie” applied to a tape can in the Zappa Family Vault. “I had been already been the Vaultmeister for 27 years, and thought I saw everything.” 

Joe Travers frank zappa

For fanatics like me, here is the entirety of the “Zappa/Erie” box’s contents. Maybe you hit one of these shows, too.

CD 1: LIVE FROM EDINBORO, PA – MAY 8, 1974

1. “Someone Has Just Asked Me…”

2. Cosmik Debris

3. Pygmy Twylyte

4. The Idiot Bastard Son

5. Cheepnis

6. Inca Roads

7. Montana

8. Dupree’s Paradise (Intro)

CD 2: LIVE FROM EDINBORO, PA – MAY 8, 1974 (continued)

1. Dupree’s Paradise

2. It Can’t Happen Here

3. Hungry Freaks, Daddy

4. You’re Probably Wondering Why I’m Here

5. How Could I Be Such A Fool

6. I Ain’t Got No Heart

7. I’m Not Satisfied

8. Wowie Zowie

9. Let’s Make The Water Turn Black

10. Harry, You’re A Beast

11. The Orange County Lumber Truck

12. Oh No

13. Son Of Orange County

14. More Trouble Every Day

15. Camarillo Brillo

CD 3: BONUS TRACKS: LIVE FROM SOUTH BEND, IN – MAY 12, 1974 (1-2)

LIVE FROM ERIE, PA – NOVEMBER 12, 1974 (3-14)

1. Montana

2. Get Down

3. Tush Tush Tush (A Token Of My Extreme)

4. Stink-Foot

5. RDZNL

6. Village Of The Sun

7. Echindna’s Arf (Of You)

8. Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing?

9. Penguin In Bondage

10. T’Mershi Duween

11. The Dog Breath Variations

12. Uncle Meat

13. Building A Girl

14. Dinah-Moe Humm

CD 4: LIVE FROM ERIE, PA – NOVEMBER 12, 1974 (continued)

1. I’m Not Satisfied

2. Montana

3. Dupree’s Paradise (Intro)

4. Dupree’s Paradise

5. Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow

6. Tush Tush Tush (End Vamp)

7. Oh No

8. Son Of Orange County

9. More Trouble Every Day

CD 5: LIVE FROM ERIE, PA – NOVEMBER 12, 1976 (1-7)

LIVE FROM TOLEDO, OH – NOVEMBER 13, 1976 (8)

LIVE FROM ERIE, PA – NOVEMBER 12, 1976 (9-12)

1. The Purple Lagoon

2. Stink-Foot

3. The Poodle Lecture

4. Dirty Love

5. Wind Up Workin’ In A Gas Station

6. Tryin’ To Grow A Chin

7. The Torture Never Stops

8. City Of Tiny Lites

9. Pound For A Brown

10. You Didn’t Try To Call Me

11. Rudy Wants To Buy Yez A Drink

12. Would You Go All The Way? 

CD 6: LIVE FROM ERIE, PA – NOVEMBER 12, 1976 (continued) (1-11)

BONUS TRACKS: LIVE FROM MONTREAL, QC, CANADA – NOVEMBER 10, 1976 (12)

LIVE FROM TOLEDO, OH – NOVEMBER 13, 1976 (13-14)

1. Black Napkins

2. Terry’s Erie ’76 Solo

3. Patrick’s Erie ’76 Solo

4. Wonderful Wino

5. The Purple Lagoon (Outro)

6. Stranded In The Jungle

7. Dinah-Moe Humm

8. The Purple Lagoon (Outro)

9. Camarillo Brillo

10. Muffin Man

11. The Purple Lagoon (Outro)

12. You Didn’t Try To Call Me

13. Black Napkins

14. The Purple Lagoon (Outro)

Joe Travers frank zappa

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