Film documentary: Zappa U, about the annual UH Hilo Jazz Orchestra’s Frank Zappa Tributes, Jan. 14

Since 2013, the UH Hilo Jazz Orchestra has performed annual Frank Zappa tribute concerts. This film documentary is their story… from classroom to concert hall. Q&A with the producer and a 40-minute set of live Frank Zappa music by the Jazz Orchestra to follow film. 

The annual Frank Zappa Tributes performed by the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Jazz Orchestra is the topic of a film documentary, Zappa U (2017, 79 min.), to be shown this Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, at 4:00 p.m. at the Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village on Hawai‘i Island. The Jazz Orchestra will also perform a 40-minute set of live Frank Zappa music, and film producer, Steve Roby, will be present for a Q & A session after the film.

Since 2013, the UH Hilo Jazz Orchestra has performed annual Frank Zappa tribute concerts. In 2016, Professor Trever Veilleux and his students who comprise the UH Hilo Jazz Orchestra presented their fourth concert event, “Zappa4Ever.” Along with archival footage, the film tracks the students’ twelve weeks of rehearsals, their thoughts on Frank Zappa’s complex compositions, and what they take away from the final concert hall experience.

The documentary also features commentary from Hawai‘i Island resident Cheryl “Quack” Moore (former Saturday Night Live music director), sax legend Lou Marini (appeared on several Frank Zappa albums), and photographer Chiu “Ray” Leong, who shot the cover for the seminal Mothers of Invention record Freak Out! The film concludes with the students performing several Zappa pieces in concert.

The producer

Resident film maker, Steven Roby, is a respected rock music historian, archivist, and best-selling author. Roby moved to Hawai‘i Island in 2015, and quickly immersed himself in the island’s unique contemporary culture. In addition to Zappa U, Roby also produced the documentary Western Week In Honoka‘a for Snap Judgement Films. His third film, Livin’ On a Rock: A Big Island Music Story will be released in 2018. Roby is also the managing editor of, an online magazine about Hawai‘i Island’s music scene.


This event is a fundraiser for the UH Hilo Jazz Orchestra. A $10 donation is requested.