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Banned From Utopia featuring Frank Zappa Alumni to Play Williams Center for the Arts

originally published: 06/24/2024

Banned From Utopia featuring Frank Zappa Alumni to Play Williams Center for the Arts

(RUTHERFORD, NJ) -- Banned From Utopia featuring legendary Frank Zappa alumni Ray White, Bobby Martin and Scott Thunes, will be touring North America with The Paul Green Rock Academy this summer. The We Love Zappa Tour celebrates the music of Frank Zappa from all eras and comes to the Williams Center for the Arts on Thursday, July 25, 2024 at 7:30pm.

Banned From Utopia was formed in 1994 to keep the true spirit of Frank Zappa’s music alive. Covering a variety of Zappa songs, the ensemble lovingly recreates the eclectic virtuoso approach of their former band leader.

The Paul Green Rock Academy (PGRA) is the latest music school from School of Rock founder, and noted Zappa fanatic, Paul Green. An audition only music school for ambitious students aged 12-18, PGRA has spent the last 5 years touring, alternately, as the backing band for Jon Anderson of Yes and Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers. They have also shared the stage with such amazing musicians as Bill Bruford, Steve Hackett, and Phil Manzanera. Paul’s former students have gone on to play in/with: The Who, Phony Ppl, The Bobby Lees, Dr Dog, Adrian Belew, and Willow Smith, to name a few.

From the very beginning of his teaching career Paul has taught the music of Frank Zappa, calling it “one stop shopping for musical education.” While co-headlining the German Zappa festival Zappanale in 2023 Paul and his students got to see Banned From Utopia in action, and vice versa, and an instant bond was formed between the acts. The students of PGRA are honored to be going on this tour with BFU and will learn so much from the experience, while also thrilling audiences with their own fiery renditions of Zappa classics and deep cuts.

Tickets range from $30-$50 and are available for purchase online. Williams Center for the Arts is located at 15 Sylvan Street in Rutherford, New Jersey.

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Banned From Utopia Band Members:

Ray White (vocals, guitar) - One of the most powerful and distinctive voices that ever graced a Zappa vocal, Ray White. Ray White’s distinctive, powerful voice was first heard interpreting Zappa’s music in 1976. From that beginning, he became an integral member of Frank’s band through 1984, and can be seen on the DVD recorded the summer of that year in New York, “Does Humor Belong In Music?” A former member of the Edwin Hawkins Singers gospel group, he also brings a solid R&B guitar style to the blend, both as a rhythm player and as a soloist. Looking towards future creative endeavors with Banned From Utopia, Ray is also a gifted writer and lyricist.

Robert Martin (vocals, keyboards, saxophone, French horn) - Keyboards, horns, and of course, the voice that always made Frank smile, Robert Martin brings it all. Robert (Bobby) Martin joined Frank Zappa in 1981 and sang and played various instruments on every tour from then on, through the final tour in 1988. In addition to the diverse sonic palette Robert brought to the band with his multi-instrumental skills, Zappa relied heavily on Robert’s unique vocal power and range to enhance the variety of musical styles Frank explored in all his performances. In any moment, Frank might switch from heavy metal to classic Doo Wop, or anything in between, and Robert would be right there.

Scott Thunes (guitar, vocals) - Scott Thunes played with Zappa’s band from 1981 to 1988, and plays on such albums as “The Man From Utopia”, “Them or Us,” “Broadway the Hard Way,” “You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore,” “Does Humor Belong In Music?,” “The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life,” “Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention,” “Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch,” “Make a Jazz Noise Here,” and “Guitar,” a double-album compilation of Zappa’s live guitar solos. His most prominent bass performance can be heard on Frank Zappa's “Valley Girl,” which peaked at #32 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Robbie Mangano (guitar, vocals) - Robbie has performed with Zappa Tribute band Project/Object, playing bass and guitar with members of Frank Zappa’s band, and embarked on his first tour and first overseas gigs through that ensemble. Soon after he would begin touring with more Zappa alumni in The Grandmothers Of Invention. Most recently he has toured with Sean Lennon & Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger.

Jamie Kime (guitar) - Jamie Kime has performed and recorded with Dweezil Zappa’s Zappa Plays Zappa project from 2006 until 2012. More recently, he did a European tour with The Banned From Utopia. Earlier this year, Jamie Kime recorded his very first solo album: “Alleys.” Some standout moments include gigs w/ The Boneshakers (feat. Texas blues/soul legend Malford Milligan), Jewel, the original lineup of a Zappa Plays Zappa - with whom he collected a Grammy Award in 2009, the Los Angeles Philharmonic for the World Premiere of Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels Orchestral Suites in 2013, and rock legend Dr. John. The Jamie Kime Group performs on the first Monday of every month at the world-famous Baked Potato in Studio City, CA.

Joel Taylor (drums) - Joel Taylor has toured or recorded with artists such as Greg Howe, Brian Bromberg, Mike Garson, Al Di Meola, Frank Gambale, Allan Holdsworth, Banned From Utopia, and appears on Yanni's live concert video Tribute.

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Tour Dates

7/4 - Lyndhurst NJ - Town Square Bandshell
7/5 - Hudson Falls NY - The Strand Theatre
7/6 - Cleveland OH - Beachland Ballroom
7/10 - St. Louis MO - City Winery St. Louis
7/11 - Milwaukee WI - Shank Hall
7/12 - Chicago IL - Martyr’s
7/13 - Ft. Wayne IN - Sweetwater HQ
7/14 - Cincinnati OH - Ludlow Garage
7/16 - Pittsburgh PA - City Winery Pittsburgh
7/17 - Asheville NC - The Grey Eagle
7/19 - Nashville TN - City Winery Nashville
7/20 - Charlotte NC - Visulite Theater
7/21 - Atlanta GA - City Winery Atlanta
7/23 - Lansing WV - Burrito Bar at Breeze Hill
7/25 - Rutherford NJ - Williams Center for the Arts
7/26 - New Haven CT - Toad’s Place
7/27 - Pawtucket RI - Met Café
7/28 - Pawling NY - Daryl’s House
7/30 - Montgomery NY - City Winery Montgomery
8/1 - Westport CT - Westport Library
8/2 - Boston MA - City Winery Boston
8/3 - Brattleboro VT - Stone Church
8/4 - Ardmore PA - Ardmore Music Hall



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