The Zappa Band

The Zappa Band
The Zappa Band

One of the most ground-breaking, original, and fearless figures of popular music was undoubtedly the legendary Frank Zappa. And paying tribute to this late icon is The Zappa Band – a group largely comprised of former members of Frank’s bands. The Zappa Band’s lineup features Zappa alumni Ray White (lead vocals, guitar), Mike Keneally (guitar, keys, vocals), Scott Thunes (bass, vocals) and Robert Martin (keyboards, sax, vocals), and ZPZ alums Jamie Kime (guitar) and Zappa archivist Joe “Vaultmeister” Travers (drums, vocals). Each musician played in the studio and on the road with Zappa during his career, while three of these alums played on Zappa 88: The Last US Show, one of the most recent offerings from Zappa Records & Universal Music. The Zappa alums are joined by Joe Travers and Jamie Kime, who are no strangers to FZ’s music, to round out the ensemble.

Mike Keneally was 25 when he joined Frank Zappa’s band in 1987. Since then, he’s played in the bands of Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Devin Townsend, been a member of Dethklok, composed with Andy Partridge of XTC, written orchestral commissions for Holland’s Metropole Orkest, and made over 30 solo albums, including many with his band Beer For Dolphins. Scambot 2 is the most recent release.

“A lot of amazing Frank Zappa music played with intensity, humor and love,” says Keneally about what fans can expect from the band. “We enjoy the opportunity to play different material from the Zappa catalogue; we know that often people like to attend multiple shows, because our repertoire is large enough to be able to change things up. So, while we will be playing some of the songs we played last year opening for King Crimson, on this year’s tour, and on Cruise to the Edge, we won’t necessarily play them all, and we’ll be playing lots of other things besides.”

Guitarist and vocalist Ray White got his first guitar from his brother, Charles, at 15. White’s first show was two weeks later. After four years in the Air Force, Ray headed to San Francisco. He played with Eloise Laws, Lee Oskar, Greg Errico and Lady Bianca (who recommended Ray to Frank Zappa). He played on several albums and tours with Frank. Ray was mentored by one of the world’s greatest composers. “Music is the Best!”

The son of two opera singers from Philadelphia, Robert Martin is a powerful singer, multi-instrumentalist and conservatory trained French horn player with an extensive list of top tier artists in his resume, including Frank Zappa, Etta James (on tour with the Rolling Stones), Bette Midler, Stevie Nicks, Michael McDonald, and many more. He has composed for prime time television, and mixed and mastered top twenty hits in various genres.

Born in LA in 1960, Scott Thunes’ musical studies included late 60s and early 70s rock, jazz, fusion, Frank Zappa’s early Mothers period, and two years of music classes at junior college, allowing him to become “fantastic” enough to join Frank’s band in 1981. He played electric bass guitar, synth bass, sang vocals, and became rehearsal director in 1984. Currently he’s the Rock Band Teaching Artist at Marin School of the Arts, Novato High School.

Drummer Joe Travers moved to LA in 1992 and joined Dweezil & Ahmet Zappa’s group “Z” in 1993. He’s played with Duran Duran, Lisa Loeb, Rich Robinson, Billy Idol, Zappa Plays Zappa, Eric Johnson and Joe Satriani among others. When not on the road, he spends his time as the “Vaultmeister” for the Zappa Trust archiving and preserving the legacy of legend Frank Zappa and co-producing and supervising future projects.

In addition to working with Zappa Plays Zappa, for which he collected a Grammy Award, guitarist Jamie Kime has played with Jewel, Dr. John, Frankie Valli, and others, as well as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Czech National Symphony performing the works of Frank Zappa. He frequently plays The Baked Potato jazz club in Los Angeles, and is on the faculty of The Musician’s Institute in Hollywood, CA.

Soon, the music of Frank Zappa will be celebrated once more on the concert stage at ProgStock 2022!

–adapted from Buddy Iahn, The Music Universe, May 10, 2022

The Zappa Band - photo by Annie Lesser
The Zappa Band – photo by Annie Lesser


Band Lineup
Ray White – lead vocals, guitar
Scott Thunes – bass, vocals
Robert Martin – keyboards, sax, vocals
Mike Keneally – guitar, keys, vocals
Jamie Kime – guitar
Joe Travers – drums, vocals