Dweezil Zappa knows exactly what some people think about him and other children of famous entertainers.
"Trust fund kids. No skills. Riding the coattails. Blah, blah, blah," he says.
Rather than shy away from the family name, "I've put myself into a direct comparison with Frank in the 10 years that I've been playing his music - and people are more interested in me because of that."
"Frank" - as Zappa constantly calls his dad - is the late Frank Zappa, one of the most brilliant and unpredictable composers in rock history. Dweezil Zappa had already released three albums of his own when his father died of prostate cancer in 1993. Yet his career didn't really click until he dived headfirst into his dad's music on 2006's Zappa Plays Zappa tour.
A decade later, Zappa Plays Zappa continues to fuel interest in Frank's underappreciated legacy with a tour that comes to House of Blues on Wednesday. The 45-year-old Zappa and his band will play songs from Frank Zappa's career, including the entire 1975 album One Size Fits All.
"It's one of my favorite albums because it's a great combination of Frank's unique compositions, his guitar playing and his improvisation," Zappa says. "It's a good starting point for a lot of people because it's one of the more accessible albums. And our goal is to be accessible."
That's admittedly a pretty tall order. As a composer and guitarist, Frank Zappa leaned hard into the avant-garde, with frequent forays into jazz, classical and long jams that could test anyone's patience - even that of his own band members.
Yet he's one of rock's true innovators who is still held sacred by musicians far and near. Dallas-raised Zappaficianados include Paul Slavens and St. Vincent's Annie Clark, whose jazzy guitar phrases and mood-shifting songs carry Frank Zappa's distinct imprint.
Of course, the music industry never knew what to make of him. Zappa didn't win a single Grammy during his lifetime, and he had to self-finance many of his recordings.
"It was an uphill battle because he had very high standards and his ideas were intense and complicated and crazy," Dweezil Zappa says. "But none of that industry accolade stuff was important to him. He just focused on the music."
The public did warm up to some of his funnier songs, like 1983's "Valley Girl," featuring his daughter Moon Unit ad-libbing phrases like "gag me with a spoon." He also cracked the pop charts with 1974's "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" and the 1979 disco parody "Dancin' Fool."
But Dweezil Zappa worries those songs paint his dad's career in the wrong light. Part of the point of Zappa Plays Zappa is to make sure Frank's music isn't lumped forever into the "novelty music" bin, he says.
"People don't understand that professional musicians can have a sense of humor but still operate on many different levels," he says.
"I like AC/DC. But you know exactly what you're gonna get every time with an AC/DC song, and I think people grow accustomed to the idea that you're supposed to just make one sound so people know that it's you. Frank didn't go for that at all. Every album was completely different. Every song was different. He had no boundaries."
Thor Christensen is a Dallas writer and critic.
Plan your life
Zappa Plays Zappa, 8 p.m. Wednesday, House of Blues, 2200 N. Lamar St. $46.37-$78.54. www.ticketmaster.com