Surreal moments in the Northwest – September 2016

This is the, for me, rather unusual report of ten days in the Pacific Northwest. Days filled with music, fun and laughter. Days of wonderment, friendship and history in the making. I am still amazed by how much music, fun and memory making one can fit into ten days. And it’s because of that, I decided I better get to it and write it down. For the possibility I might start thinking that it all had been a dream. So, without further ado (did I just actually write that?) … here goes.

Preface: April 19th, 2016

I turn on Facebook (or it was on, already – I tend to mix those two situations up) and I see there’s a message from Kevin Crosby. It’s short, but it was to pave the road to September 5-15, 2016. It simply read:

“Hi Fred, don’t you need a vacation to the Pacific Northwest? I need a keyboard player!!”

Since I am sort of a keyboard player, with a soft spot for the Northwest – with Seattle in particular – I kinda like said (shouted out would be more accurate): I think I indeed DO need a vacation?

And from there on, it went.

Between April 19th, 2016 and September 5th, 2016

Oh my, what not happened between the above mentioned dates. The most relevant: making plans for the big event in the Pacific Northwest. It happening pretty much only two weeks after my summer holidays in the South of Europe, made me feel that I’d be one of those: ‘on the road people’. I like to be an ‘on the road people’, so I said yes. And from April 19th to September 5th, what happened was daily conversations, planning, exchanging ideas and an almost six-week holidays. I’ll spare you all the details, and skip right to September 5th. But the days between these dates, oh my … trust me on that one … they were something. Especially the holidays. Those, and the anticipation of The Tour.



September 5th, 2016 [The Hague, NL – Shoreline, WA]

Early rise (5am), first tram at 6:08am to AMS Schiphol Airport (which is actually not located in Amsterdam but in the city of Haarlemmermeer – about 6 miles Southwest of Amsterdam). Checked in at home, already … so straight to baggage drop and through security. They, no surprise there, wanted me to open my briefcase. In that briefcase: my Proteus 2000 sound module, a dozen cables, a handful of power supplies, adaptors, pens and paper and my Korg Kaossilator. An interesting find, I’m sure. But no biggie.All went smooth: boarding, sitting down. I really digged Delta flight KL6033 very much. Watched two movies (Eddie The Eagle and Absolutely Anything – both of which I enjoyed immensely).Landed and got through security at around pretty much the same time as take off, so there’s was a whole day ahead. Kevin Crosby awaited and drove to the lovely suburb of Shoreline. It felt like coming home. Last time I was in Seattle was in the summer of 1994. A lot had changed, but it still felt the same. Busier, true. More hectic, true. But it has still that Seattle charm I fell in love with more than 20 years ago.

Having jumped time zones, September 5th was a day spent napping, pigging out on really bad 7/11 snacks, Beck’s pilsener and stuff. Stayed up that very evening until around 5pm, finishing off the 12-pack of Beck’s and five 16oz cans of Rolling Rock (for old time’s sake). I went to bed a happy puppy.

On tour with the Zappa Early Renaissance Orchestra, featuring Ike Willis, Prairie Prince, Kevin Crosby, Rupert Kettle and yours truly. Four concerts, four cities. Portland, Arlington, Seattle and Tacoma. A great honor and … as I’d discover … a heap load of fun and thrills! And so the saga continues. This here entry covers part of September 6, 2016. Second day in the Northwest at Kevin’s house.

Day 2 – September 6th, 2016

After day 1, there was Day 2. What do ya know? As September 5 was one of mostly adjusting to a different time zone, September 6th is marked as a day filled with fun things. Unexpectedly much, actually!

Even though I do not remember at what time I got up, but I got up nevertheless. Ready for a day of surprises. It’d be the last day before Ike Willis and Prairie Prince (you know those people, right?) would arrive and this evening (the evening of the 6th) we (that being Kevin, Rupert and I) had a rehearsal planned. But first … a walk in the park.

In the park Trees. And stuff.


A view over the water. A view over the water.


From left to right: Kevin Crosby, Pinky Pie, Fred Händl From left to right: Kevin Crosby, Pinky Pie, Fred Händl


Salmon slide. Salmon slide.

Piano crossing. Painted by the Bubbleman. Piano crossing. Painted by the Bubbleman.

Enjoying a view. Enjoying a view.

And after a great walk through Carkeek Park – as the park is called (just found that out, actually by Googling Salmon slide, Seattle), we ran into the Bubbleman. What a show! Thank you 🙂

Bubble blowing Bubbleman. Bubble blowing Bubbleman.

Fred, Bubbleman and Kevin Fred, Bubbleman and Kevin

On the keys. On the keys.


Walking in the park and looking at bubbles is all nice and stuff, but we are here for the music as well! So, off we (that would be Kevin and I) went to pick up Rupert from the ferry. You read that right: from the ferry. Some people commute by car, some by bike or even by foot. But not Rupert. Rupert’s cool. He goes by ferry.

Since I was so absorbed by all cool things going on this day, I forgot to take any pictures of that rehearsal. But I can tell you: it was great fun! And I had Rainier beer – lovely. No pictures of our rehearsal, but on the way to the ferry to pick up Rupert, we passed this truck.

A truck. A truck.


It’s Day 2 of my ventures in the Northwest. I’ve been flown in from The Hague, the other side of the pond to perform with Z.E.R.O. (Zappa Early Renaissance Orchestra). In Z.E.R.O. (this time, as Z.E.R.O. is ever changing) are Kevin Crosby (5-string bass), Rupert Kettle (guitar and slide guitar), Ike Willis (guitar and vocals) and Prairie Prince (drums). You read that right: Ike Willis and Prairie Prince … and now me. On keys. Today, Ike and Prairie arrive. Game on!

Kevin’s Place

In a very nice place, called Shoreline. In state of Washington, there’s Kevin’s place. I really don’t remember that well what I did before the evening, but came evening, this setting of Z.E.R.O. was complete! Ike Willis arrived safely from LAX to SEA. As did Prairie Prince from SFO. Also to SEA. Yay!

All was well. First gig in Portland coming up, tomorrow. But that’s tomorrow. Now, we play at Kevin’s Place.

Kevin's Place Kevin’s Place

Kevin's Place Kevin’s Place

Kevin's Place Kevin’s Place

The rest of the evening

Was there a rest of the evening? Oh, yes, wait! Think there was. I am pretty sure there was. It included tequila and beer. And Kevin. And Prairie Prince. And lots laughter. Good times were had!

Portland better be ready for us … (and vice versa .. oh my, those nerves of mine).

Three days passed since touchdown. Three days, already? Dude! So quick that went!! A day of adjusting to a new time zone, a day in the park with a rehearsal in the evening, and a day eating junk food from 7/11, topped off with an evening with Z.E.R.O. – consisting (this time) of Kevin Crosby, Rupert Kettle, Ike Willis and Prairie Prince. Oh my. And if that was not enough excitement yet, things were really about to roll now. First gig of four, coming up! Tonight: Live at Dante’s in Portland!

The van

Any self-respecting band has a tour van. And since we respect ourselves very much, we also have a van. ‘Have’ is a big word, but we could borrow one (thank you, Susan!). It might seem smallish, but what do you know! All equipment fitted very nicely (after removing one of the back seats, that is).

A van that we not only used to drive the 184 miles to Portland, but also back again! What a treat. I had to get used to the automatic transmission, though. It took me a few funny braking moments, but I think I did well. Here’s a picture for ya’all.

And off we went to the first gig of the tour of the Northwest! In the van: Ike Willis, Prairie Prince, Kevin Crosby and yours truly (behind the wheel). Quite the ride, I can tell you that. But the weather was nice, we passed Tacoma (where we’d play three days later – more on that soon), saw some big airplanes (probably C-130, or even C-17) and we even had coffee and cookies at some rest area. See? See? See how you are!?


Dante’s – Portland

Arriving at the venue right ahead of time .. so after unloading The Van, we had some time off. I spent my time buying a carton tube for mailing posters, a heart-shaped can filled with sweets, a little pipe, made out of licorice, a Portland shot-glass and cigarettes. I think. Not so sure about the cigarettes, but pretty sure about the tube and the rest.

Dante’s is a wonderful place, with a nifty little terrace where one can sit and watch the traffic go by. As well as street vendors that offer you a 21 dollar hat for only 7 bucks! Although I was tempted, I decided to turn my dollars into beer (PBR, this evening).

Some photographs

Here’s some photographs I took before, during and after the gig. If you have any to share, please feel free to send them to me. You can use the very easy to remember email address for that. But you can also keep them just for yourself, of course. But, again, we’d appreciate it!



Thank you Portland!

Time for kudos … what a wonderful evening! A huge shout out to all the people involved. The staff at Dante’s, the fans, all those who came up to us to thank us for the show … I forgot all of your names, but all you guys and gals made my day! Thank you SO much!! Hope to see you again, some day. If you had a good evening, remember that I had at least twice as good an evening. Thanks to you!

Off to Shoreline again. It’s late. We’re tired. ETA is about 4.30am. But hey … rock ‘n fucking roll!

Arlington tomorrow. Already looking forward.

~ Fred

Second gig coming up! This time, we move to the city of Arlington. We will be rocking the lovely Mirkwood Public House. But before we do that, there’s stuff to be done. Not that much, however. Yet, still. Read here, once again, about my adventures with Z.E.R.O.. The musical consortium with varying personnel. This time: Kevin Crosby, Rupert Kettle, Ike Willis, Prairie Prince and yours truly (that would be me). Here we go!

In the morning

As we arrived home very late (or early, depending on which side of the clock you’re on), the day didn’t start off at a morning hour. Coffee was needed (and had). Breakfast at 7/11 (I think I am pretty sure about that) and then some hours to spend doing not much more that hanging in on the front porch, chatting away with Kevin and Prairie. Today, we’d have to leave around 2pm, so there was time. Time for Prairie, for example, to single-handedly create a really cool and unique Z.E.R.O. drum head.


So, with all that done … it was time to get ourselves in The Van and head out to Arlington.


Yes, ladies and gentlemen as well, Arlington. What a great place! The drive to it was also great, actually. After a few days of overcast, it had cleared up completely and Prairie and I enjoyed some great views on the way there. I think we saw Mt. Baker. Or perhaps another mountain. But it was surely a mountain of great proportions! Kinda like Billy.

Here’s some still footage from the evening in Arlington (photos by Fred Händl – that’s me), in pretty much chronological order.





















And now … some amazing photo’s by Joe Mabel

Thanks, Joe! These pictures rock!!

More pictures here: FLICKR




Tonight, third of four gigs already. Oh my … how fast this is all going! I still can’t believe it. Arlington was a lot of fun! And also afterwards, we had our share of laughter and wonderments. At headquarters in Shoreline, we shared the ever so necessary beverages, stories and (if I am not mistaken) a good ol’ bag or two of round tortilla chips (I love those …). Today is September 10th and we have pretty much the whole day off (unloading at Darrell’s Tavern is at 6.30pm and it’s only about a five minute drive (10 if traffic’s bad)). Let’s decide to go to …

The Jimi Hendrix Memorial in Renton

The 20-odd miles drive to Renton took well over an hour. 20 mph on the freeway (the nefarious Interstate 5) is not too bad, if you consider us (Kevin, Prairie and myself) not to be in any kind of hurry. Sitting in the car is good for bonding, I guess. Bonding and sweating. Man, it was a hot day.

At the memorial, I had a hard time believing what I saw. I visited Hendrix’ grave in 1994, when it was no more than a memorial plaque in the grass. Now, well, you’ve probably know/seen it, now it’s an actual mausoleum. Pretty impressive, I’d say. Definitely worth some Kodak moments.

img_1017 Photo by Prairie Prince

img_1004From left to right: Fred Händl, Kevin Crosby, Prairie Prince, Jimi Hendrix

On the road again

Time to go back home and do some preparations for the big show tonight! We passed Darrell’s today and it looks like a wonderful place. It’s across the street from Fred Meyers. A shop with my name on it. See?!

Fortunately Kevin knows all the roads to his place and so we managed to avoid getting stuck in traffic on the way back. Look at this view!

img_1013On the road with a view

The gig

Time for the gig! What can I say? We had, once again, a blast! Each time it is an absolute honor to share the stage with all these talented musicians. And nice guys at the same time! What more can one want? I do feel blessed! On stage this evening (just like the past two days): Kevin Crosby on bass, Rupert Kettle on (slide) guitar, Ike Willis on guitar and vocals and Prairie Prince on drums. But, hey … what do you know!! Special guest tonight: Michael Wansley (Wanz)!! He’d join us on stage for a marvelous rendition of Montana. Thanks so much, Wanz! I totally enjoyed playing with you!

img_1032Outside Darrell’s Tavern

img_1024We’ve been announced!

img_1028Checking sound


img_1025My workstation that evening.


img_103Thank you, everybody – we totally enjoyed that!

From left to right: Prairie Prince (d), Ike Willis (g,v), Rupert Kettel (sl.g, g), Fred Händl (p, syn), Kevin Crosby (b) and Wanz (v)


And here comes the last day of the tour of the Northwest. After Portland, Arlington and Seattle, we’re now off to Tacoma. Where we will play the B Sharp Coffee House. With me behind the wheel on the way there, in full sunshine, equipped with nothing but good moods and a bag of sunflower seeds, Prairie and I are following the Interstate 5. Down to Tacoma. Please join us for this last evening of musical madness.

Before the show

We were on time. Very much on time, that is. So, we had some hours to spend. And we did! We spent some hours. First off, we unloaded The Van, set up our gear and then went to a wonderful pizza place (with a more than marvelous choice of beers), close to the venue. Time for some pictures, I reckon. Oh well, here goes.


At Puget Sound Pizza, Tacoma.


Ticketed Event! That would be us.


Fred Händl, Kevin Crosby and Rupert Kettle


Inside the B Sharp Coffee House


Third from the top!


Some piping and stuff. Hydraulics, anyone?


Beautiful view from Puget Sound Pizza


The Rup and I


Fred and Prairie


More beer signs at Puget Sound Pizza


Skate’s up!




My set up for the evening.


Opera Alley, Tacoma


Wine. Beer. Food. Music. @B Sharp Coffee House.

The venue

What a wonderful an beautiful place this B Sharp Coffee house is! With a great selection of beers, a lovely entrance and a more than amazing gateway to the toilets! Something you only see once every so many times. Last time I was this amazed, I was in London, playing with Ike Willis and ZAPPATiKA in the club: Under The Bridge. This is a totally different entourage, but oh my … how wonderful. Check it out.


Inside the gent’s


That wonderful mirror


Toilet passage paradise


Real chair vs mural


Back room lounge


Cutlery lamp


The Aftermath

After the show, we had another great time. People who came to see us were so grateful and so excited. It was humbling. The pleasure was all ours. Thanks to everybody who came to see us on our last concert of this tour. It was absolutely my honor to be part of this historical venture. Sharing the stage with Ike Willis, Prairie Prince, Kevin Crosby and Rupert Kettle for four days, has been simply amazing! Thank you, all! It was superb!

Here’s some after show pictures for you to enjoy (and for me to remember). What a trip it has been!!


Prairie Prince and Rob Morgan


Ike Willis, Prairie Prince and Kevin Crosby


Ike Willis and Bill Schlanbusch – Superfan.


Rob Morgan and Fred Händl

And so it ended. Four nights in a row, we respectively Portland (Dante’s), Arlington (Mirkwood Public House), Seattle (Darrell’s Tavern) and Tacoma (B Sharp Coffee House). On bass the illustrious Kevin Crosby, on guitar and slide guitar the ever engaging Rupert Kettle, on lead guitar and vocals the magical Ike Willis, on drums the amazing Prairie Prince and on keys, me.

The day after

A day of goodbyes. Not my favorite kind of days, but it were goodbyes of the good kind. Like in: we had a blast, these past days and we’re looking forward to next encounters. That kind of goodbyes.

In the morning, we drove Ike and Prairie to their gates at the airport and then returned to Shoreline to bum out.

New roads

IMG_0772Hello guys and gals,

This is kinda like an official announcement. Or something.

After 18 months of sublime musical fun, I have taken the decision to leave ZAPPATiKA. There, I said it. It was not a decision taken easily, but it feels like it was the right thing to do. Parting is never easy and there is never a good moment to break the news.

And in this case, it was particularly hard because I have grown very attached to everybody in the group and to all the wonderful people we met on the road. All the marvelous concerts, rehearsals, the just hanging about, diners, drinks, the new places, the people in the audience … It was a wonderful rollercoaster ride, with exciting loop-the-loops, anxious climbing, dazzling dives and plenty of corkscrews. A ride to always remember.

It would seem that leaving the band, having written the above words, doesn’t seem like such a logical choice. And that’s exactly what it is not. It’s not a logical choice. It seems to be one of those gut-things. They don’t always make too much sense at the time, but in the long run, sometimes they turn out just fine. The infamous gut-thing also got me IN ZAPPATiKA and, I can only say that I am extremely happy and grateful that I listened to it, 18 months ago. For it has been fantastic!

So, I am off to explore and wander about new roads, carrying along the beautiful ZAPPATiKA experience, forever etched in my thoughts.

Thank you for all the moments on and off the stage: Zap, Maarten, Tal, Hieronymus, Coen, Joep, Twister, Ike, Ed, Denny, Bill, Hank, Jeff, Diego, Clint. And you.


~ Fred

Adelaide Gail Zappa-Sloatman (* Jan. 1-1945 † Oct. 7-2015)

frank-and-gail-zappaThe sad news came this morning. Frank Zappa’s widow died at the age of 70, after a time of illness. A lot will be written about it, in the coming days. And there will also be a lot of silence, in time of mourning. Mourning, contemplating, remembering, missing.

I am not going to write a lot, but I just have to write this down.

Rest in peace, Gail Zappa

Widow of Frank Zappa. Mother of Diva, Moon, Ahmet and Dweezil. You have ignited many heated discussions between fans of Frank Zappa and his music. I don’t know what is true. I don’t need to know. I know that your children are without their parents, now and I know that you are now somewhere else, united with your husband.

My thoughts are with your family and loved ones.

I wish you well.

~ Fred

Аквариум – Гарсон No. 2 – Boris Grebenshchikov

Boris Grebenshchikov (Russian: Бори́с Бори́сович Гребенщико́в) (1953) is a Russian rock and folk artist and protest singer. Along with his group “Aquarium” he is widely considered to be one of the founding fathers of Russian rock music. He is nicknamed “The Russian Bob Dylan”.

Grebenshchikov is a fan of Frank Zappa. During the Soviet era rock music was forbidden in Eastern Europe and Russia. Many artists like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Velvet Underground and Zappa were bootlegged and became cult heroes to the oppressed population.

In the music video of the Aquarium song “Гарсон No. 2” Zappa can be seen sitting at a table and later in the video his portrait is also visible on a wall.

Zappa references at 2.08 and 3.08

Title: Аквариум - Гарсон No. 2
Source: lauralumaka and Kill Ugly Radio

Nicolas Slonimsky on Frank Zappa

In these recorded comments by Slonimsky, his musical world (classical/avant garde) and that of Frank Zappa (popular/avant garde) came together primarily due to the publication of a book by Slonimsky on scales and harmonies that attracted Zappas attention. Slonimsky recounts his acceptance of an invitation by Zappa to play with his Rock Band. He also recounts how amazed he was when he observed Zappas scores for classical music which looked far out like something Edgar Varese would write, a composer who was admired by both Slonimsky and Zappa.

Recorded at Slonimsky’s home in Los Angeles by Charles Amirkhanian in 1983.


source: YouTube / GreggeryPeccary

Cobham and Duke playing it funky – Montreux

Billy Cobham & George Duke – Montreux JF 1976

How cool is this? Cobham and Duke playing it funky. And yes, that’s John Scofield on guitar. Geez … how cool, this.

Two thumbs up!


1976, Montreux Jazz Festival – what a line up!

  • AL JARREAU, July 03, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • ART BLAKEY’S JAZZ MESSENGERS, July 08, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • BILLY COBHAM / GEORGE DUKE, July 06, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • CECIL TAYLOR QUINTET, July 09, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • CLARK TERRY & THE NEW HAMPSHIRE BIG BAND, July 07, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • ERIC BURDON, July 02, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • FRANKIE MILLER FULL HOUSE, July 02, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • GORDON LIGHTFOOT, June 26, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • JESSE WINCHESTER, June 27, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • JIMMY WITHERSPOON, July 04, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • LEONARD COHEN, June 25, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • LUTHER ALLISON, July 03, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • MIMI FARINA, June 26, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • MONTY ALEXANDER TRIO, July 10, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • NEWPORT ALL STARS, July 11, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • NINA SIMONE, July 03, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • ODETTA, July 02, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • PASADENA ROOF ORCHESTRA, July 07, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • PASSPORT, July 08, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • PIERRE BENSUSAN, June 26, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND, July 11, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • RALPH MCTELL, June 27, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • SAMMY PRICE – HALL SINGERS, July 03, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • SARAH VAUGHAN, July 11, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • SHAKTI, July 06, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • STAN GETZ QUARTET, July 10, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • STUFF, July 02, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • SUN RA ARKESTRA, July 09, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • THAD JONES & MEL LEWIS BIG BAND, July 10, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • THE CRUSADERS JAZZ SET, July 06, 1976,
  • THE CRUSADERS SOUL SET, July 04, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • THE DUBLINERS, June 27, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • THE MIGHTY CLOUDS OF JOY, July 04, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • THE SWINGIN’ SEXTET, July 07, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • WEATHER REPORT, July 08, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • YOSUKE YAMASHITA TRIO, July 09, 1976, Montreux Casino
  • ZACHARIE RICHARD ET LE BAYOU DES MYSTERES, June 27, 1976, Montreux Casino

1971 FZ Documentary

“Frank Zappa”, by Rudolf Kiers, VPRO. Originally aired 1971, february 11th.

A Dutch documentary mixed with concert footage from [November 6,] 1970. First aired sometime in 1971.

VPRO 1971, version 1 (55 min)
0:001:00 ìntroduction
1:003:40 Soft Cell Conclusions
3:408:10 FZ at home composing, Gail, Dweezil, Moon, Miss Lucy and Miss Pamela.
8:109:10 The Sanzini Brothers (live)
9:1012:30 FZ at home again, composing and talking about his career.
12:3014:20 Call Any Vegetable (live)
14:2016:00 FZ, Gail + kids at home
16.00-20:00 Interview with Miss Lucy & Pamela
20:0023:00 FZ in the neighbourhood, buying burritos.
23:0027:00 The Misses dancing to WPLJ, Would You Like A Snack? (live), on-the-road footage
27:0029:20 FZ on groupies and VDs
29:2031:10 Various footage of “real-life” FZ.
31:1035:40 FZ on politics
35:4040:40 Penis Dimension (live)
40:4043:30 interview, FZ playing w/ Wild Man Fischer
43:3047:30 FZ on filmmaking, 200 Motels
47:3048:50 FZ demonstrates the vacuum cleaner on Miss Lucy.
48:5055:00 Do You Like My New Car?, Happy Together (live)

The live footage is from the Fillmore West, Nov 6 1970.