Chris Opperman: The CirdecSongs Interview

There’s no subtle way to say it: you have to be some kind of “special” to appreciate the music of Frank Zappa. Most mainstream listeners would replace the word “special” with “warped.” Not that it matters, Zappa fans wear their badges with pride! If you don’t get the music, we say, that’s your loss.

Even within the confines of Zappa fandom, there are levels. There are Zappa fans who simply appreciate by listening to the music; fans who are also musicians; fans who play AND can handle some of Zappa’s compositions (next to none of which could called “simple”); and fans who play, can play Zappa, and can COMPOSE their own music with Zappa as a jumping off point. The latter group performs in what can only be deemed “rarified air.”

Chris Opperman occupies some of that elite airspace.

My first experience with Chris’s music came from his album Chamber Music from Hell. I had no idea what kind of skill Chris had when I received his CD. But it took about three measures from the opening tune for me to say aloud, “This guy is a Zappa fan!” We tend to recognize one another.

But even within Zappa Fan Category Four, Chris is elite. He has the formal music education, playing ability, compositional skills, and experience recording with Zappa band alumnae to back him up. Chris’s resume is not to be questioned.

There’s more than enough room in a musician of this skill level to see himself as “more than” or at least see others not at his level as “less than.” Chris’s personality doesn’t even come close to this. Instead, I spoke to a smart but modest man who’s dedicated to being a family man, affable, and in possession of a wicked sense of humor. The time we spent talking “off the air” was at least as fun as what you’re about to see.

I’d like to thank Chris Opperman for taking the time to participate in this CirdecSongs Interview.


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I’m currently working on my second book The Wizard of WOO: The Life and Music of Bernie Worrell.

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