Bogus Pomp & Ike Willis with the Florida Orchestra

Bogus Pomp & Ike Willis with the Florida Orchestra

performing the music of Frank Zappa • Thomas Wilkins, Conductor

Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg, FL • January 16, 1999

I got out of bed at noon. Didn’t bother to shower. Picked up Flail, swung by Taco Bell. Drove an hour. Arrived at Gettel Toyota in Bradenton. Sat around for 5 hours while Flail picked out a new mini-van. Realized we sure as hell better start driving towards wherever the Bogus Pomp show was. As usual, we get several miles down the road and discover than neither of us know even what CITY they are playing in, or what time it’s at. Time to turn around. We head back and grab some crappy magazines and look for ads. We found the info, luckily, and hauled ass towards St. Pete. I still had not showered, rendering me unbelievably greasy.

We arrived at the Mahaffey Theater and there are swarms of people out front. Fortunately, Flail had about $40 in his pocket. I had $1 in mine. At the ticket booth, we were greeted by a smart-ass lady who informed us that tickets are extremely inexpensive tonight — because the show is sold out. I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean, but I think she was making a joke. It’s 7:45 and the show starts at 8:00. I got the idea of jogging around to the back stage door and trying to find Jerry Outlaw, David Manson, or even an irate Alex Pasut. “Hey, remember me?” I decided to head around the building counter-clockwise, which was a big mistake. The stage door was just around the right corner on the other side of some inconveniently placed bushes. Winded, I approached the door and greeted Security Woman. I told her to go and get David Manson. I explain to Manson our problem, and he tells Security Woman that we provided some instruments for the show tonight. Clever. She let us in. We stood backstage and watched the entire show. It was pretty good.

The evening began with the Florida Orchestra performing several of Zappa’s works, including the infamous “Dog Breath Variations.” After each piece, the consensus reached backstage by the Zappa Experts was, “They nailed it!” I agree. Several works from The Yellow Shark sounded very accurate. Throughout the Orchestra’s performance, Ike Willis sat on a stool backstage (probably within the audience’s view) and euphorically sang all the melodies and air-conducted. The real conductor, Thomas Wilkins, was saying some really funny stuff between selections, but I barely heard a word of it. I caught a part where he was talking about how Zappa was a master of timbre. Again, I agree. The ‘stra continued their set and played a number of orchestral works that I was not that familiar with, but enjoyed greatly. Several days later on WMNF, Ray Villadonga used a perfectly suited word to describe the mood of the evening… but I forgot what it was. I’ll just say that it was a romantic-ish mood.

The band then joined the orchestra and played some stuff. Then the orchestra left the stage. It was cool. Then the curtain closed and the complete Bogus Pomp rock band set up. I was shocked to find out that the band had, for this performance (if I remember correctly) grown to include 4 horns, two drummers, two keyboardists, a percussionist, two guitarists, and a bassist. I think I left someone out. Someone backstage made the comment, “Wow! A stage that Bogus Pomp can actually fit on!”

During their set, a man approached me and (in so many words) commented on the size of a blonde girl’s breasts in the front row. For a while, I got distracted and tried to figure out if he meant that they were especially big, because they didn’t seem unusual, and then again… perhaps I was looking at the wrong girl. I guess it’s supposed to be good when a girl’s got big ones. It’s also possible that I over-analyzed his comment. Hmm.

I also snuck over and flipped through some of the piano scores, which were sitting around backstage. Fascinating. They even had that Intercontinental Absurdities, Inc. official stamp on ’em. During a guitar solo, Jerry did some really wacky stuff with his pickup-selector…I think he also started turning invisible and then briefly levitated. I’m surprised the electronics didn’t just rip right out of the guitar. The whole band sounded fantastic and controlled. Jerry’s intonation was perfect with the keyboard. I forgot to ask him how the hell he does that. Their song list included some of my favorites: “Black Page #2,” “Echidna’s Arf,” “Son of Orange County,” “Peaches en Regalia,” and “Sofa.” Suits me fine.

It’s quite an accomplishment that this local band is able to pull off these massive & successful concerts with such wonderful music. (Forrest Gump voice: That’s about all I have to say about Bogus Pomp.) For more information, visit them on the Web at

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