Singer and guitarist Ike Willis is a revered Frank Zappa alum. From 1978 to 1984, Willis toured and recorded with the prog-rock legend, appearing on such projects as “Joe’s Garage” (he performed as the titular character), “Tinsel Town Rebellion” and “You Are What You Is.”
On Wednesday, Willis returns to Roanoke with the Zappa tribute band Ugly Radio Rebellion, for a show at The Spot on Kirk.
Willis has played more than 100 shows over the years with the Detroit-based band led by guitarist and Zappa freak Scott Schroen. Willis and URR played the old Awful Arthur’s at Towers in June 2011 and at Martin’s that November. In an odd twist, Willis and another Zappa-centric act, Project/Object, had played the old Kirk Avenue Music Hall in February of the same year.
Those dates would be the last the valley saw of Willis until now, when he is scheduled to play the old music hall’s new iteration, The Spot on Kirk.
Unlike Zappa’s bands, which featured multiple keyboardists, percussionists, guitarists and horn players, the Ugly Radio Rebellion is a sparse act — Willis and Schroen on guitars, bassist Scott McKay and drummer Curt Perry. Judging from multiple video views, the quartet delivers musically, and imparts the Zappa mojo onto the tunes, with plenty of grease.