New Star Blogs

Worth the weight :: The Big Note launches August 24 at Lana Lou’s


Fabled Lana Lou’s at 362 Pow­ell Street in down­town Van­cou­ver is the place to be Fri­day, August 24, for the eager­ly antic­i­pat­ed and slight­ly delayed launch for The Big Note, Charles Ulrich’s even more anx­ious­ly antic­i­pat­ed but less slight­ly delayed mag­num opus on the work of the Ital­ian-Amer­i­can com­pos­er Frank Zap­pa (1940–1993).

If you’re one of the almost 2,000 peo­ple already clutch­ing your copy of The Big Note, you might be just a lit­tle sur­prised (but also delight­ed) to learn that you haven’t even missed the book’s offi­cial launch yet.  So, what’s tak­en so long?

Good ques­tion.  Back when New Star and Charles Ulrich start­ed talk­ing about what became The Big Note, The Two Tow­ers was still a feel-good fable dreamed up by some old Oxford Pro­fes­sor Cather­wood-type.  Charles’s book would be ready 2004, maybe 2005, and might run about 250 pages, because there was going to be A LOT to talk about.

How­ev­er, the author cau­tioned, he’s a pop­u­lar / rock­u­lar music kind of a guy, and when he got to FZ’s clas­si­cal and elec­tron­ic work­outs, he wasn’t going to have so much to say.  You are, he warned, going to get some two- or three-page chap­ters.  (The chap­ters he was talk­ing about end­ed up run­ning sev­en­teen, eleven, and eight pages.)

The FZ estate didn’t help, once they’d cleared away some of lawyers who had come out onto the field of play, by cre­at­ing what we called Zappa’s para­dox, releas­ing a steady stream of new and sur­pris­ing­ly fresh mate­r­i­al from “The Vault”.  Every posthu­mous release, even if it hadn’t demand­ed a fresh chap­ter of its own, shed enough light on what had come before to require con­stant revi­sion to “fin­ished” chap­ters.

Great, what­ev­er,” I hear you say.  “But that doesn’t explain why you wait­ed three months since you released the book on Moth­ers’ Day to ‘launch’ it now on August 24.  Did you just for­get?”

Not exact­ly.  It did take a while for everybody’s avail­abil­i­ty, the venue, and the band to align.  “We’d love to,” Tony Bar­dach of secret Van­cou­ver musi­cal leg­end Slow­poke and the Smoke said when we asked them to play at Charles’s launch.  “But we’ll need a lit­tle time to rehearse.”

The oth­er thing that got in the way of launch­ing The Big Note soon­er was The Big Note’s very big­ness.  Dur­ing six­teen years that Charles spent work­ing on it he con­tact­ed hun­dreds of musi­cians, tech­ni­cians, music schol­ars, fans, tape traders, &c., chas­ing down leads, while par­tic­i­pat­ing in on-line forums read by tens of thou­sands of the kind of per­son that turned out to  be inter­est­ed in a book about all this.  Along the way, the Inter­net start­ed treat­ing Charles like some kind of expert on the sub­ject.

So when word got around that Charles’s long-await­ed and eager­ly-antic­i­pat­ed muf­fin was final­ly avail­able in actu­al mol­e­cule for­mat, there was a lot of pent-up con­sumer demand ready to hit the “buy” but­ton.  The inter­net has gone gaga about The Big Note, as you can see here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here.  The first print­ing melt­ed away like a fresh pal­let of Facelle Royale at the Cost­co, and we were just too busy try­ing to keep up with orders to do much, you know, pub­lic­i­ty and stuff like that.

We were even wor­ried for a while there that we might run out of the first print­ing before we could hold the launch, and before the sec­ond print­ing got here, so we socked some away.  So a lim­it­ed num­ber of May 2018 first print­ings of The Big Note will be avail­able at the launch along­side the essen­tial­ly iden­ti­cal August 2018 sec­ond print­ing.  Com­pletists will want both, of course, and Charles Ulrich will be on hand to sign copies.

This is one hot August night you won’t want to miss. Lana Lou’s opens their doors at 8.  There shall be no cov­er.