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Newly hired stunt guitarist Mike Keneally kept an audio journal during most of Frank Zappa's 1988 "Broadway The Hard Way" tour that included set lists, backstage goings-on and many personal observations. Here are the transcripts of Mike's diaries, originally posted in chronological order on their 10-year anniversary dates.

1988 logo

FEBRUARY 24 1988

Hello there. It's February 24. It's 8:06 in the morning. And no, I'm not still up, I actually just woke up because we're leaving for the airport at 8:30. Lord only knows when the flight actually departs. This band has a habit of waiting around in airports. I have the last couple of days to recount for you.

February 22, late in the evening, or actually 2:00 in the morning February 23, shortly after the last entry that I put on this here cassette, we took the bus from Boston to Poughkeepsie. The bus was fun, we watched the original British Max Headroom film, and we stopped at a Burger King along the way but unfortunately we stopped there at 3:00 AM and apparently they had started serving breakfast at 2:00 AM, they stop selling huge whopping slabs of meat at 2:00 and start selling their cheesy little egg sandwiches and shit. I don't quite understand why they think that people unconditionally want breakfast at 2:00 AM. I got a danish. Back on the bus we started watching "The Secret Of My Success", but at around 4:30 I started thinking that sleeping would be good. I slept for an hour and a half.

We arrived in Poughkeepsie a little after 6:00, and I got a bit more sleep in my hotel room. I was awakened at 1:20 PM by a call from Vivian and I said hello to her. I took a shower and was going to go for a walk to see what was happening outside the hotel, but there was nothing happening outside the hotel and there was also a bit of rain. Oh...hold on just a second.

OK. They were coming for my bags, and now they have them. Anyway, I didn't have much of a walk yesterday, and I came back up to the room and had room service bring up some Chinese chicken dish, and it was good, and I ate it while watching a fishing program on ESPN. And then we were taken to the Mid-Hudson Civic Center, which is the first place we've played so far which isn't like a symphony hall or converted cinema or a building in that sort of genre. The way Frank described the Mid-Hudson was "a trainer arena." An arena lite, kind of like your average rock arena except smaller, not too much larger than your average high school auditorium, but it sounded quite good in there, and it was nice to play a place like that for a change. I guess as things go on we'll be hitting more places like that.

Here's what we did at soundcheck: "Deathless Horsie", "Cocaine Decisions", "Nig Biz", and then Scott suggested trying "Stick It Out" and Frank thought that might be fun. So we played "Stick It Out" with Swaggart lyrics amended. We were going to just end "Stick It Out" but I started playing "What Kind Of Girl Do You Think We Are?" which is sort of half-welded to "Stick It Out" - it's quoted at the end of "Stick It Out" on the "Joe's Garage" album, and apparently back in the early 70's they were sometimes played together - and when Frank heard me going into "What Kind Of Girl" he thought it would be nice to try and do that song. We improvised a bunch of lyrics around the Jimmy Swaggart theme. The regulars in the audience who'd made it in for soundcheck loved it, and that response spurred on Frank's interest in the song, so while we were away at dinner Frank wrote a whole bunch of new lyrics for it - "What's a girl like you doing in a church like this, etc. etc." - and he handed me the lyrics, I'm doing a lot of singing on this, it would be my most prominent vocal part apart from my speaking roles. I sang the part of the female in the piece, which was done by Mark Volman in the original, but now it's all new lyrics. Frank wanted to do it at that night's show - it's a simple song, just a blues, but there are a lot of stops and arrangement things and Frank finally decided it would be too risky to play it so soon. So we'll practice it at soundcheck for the Pittsburgh and maybe play it at the Pittsburgh, and definitely by Detroit. Or Destroyt as I like to call it.

So that was nice, Frank whipped out a new tune there. In addition to that we also practiced "96 Tears", very briefly, as a reference to Jimmy Swaggart's "many people have asked me why - I've asked myself that 10,000 times for 10,000 tears" comment. And we also practiced "Andy" and "Tinseltown Rebellion", and then we went away and had an uninteresting dinner. I had eggplant parmesan.

And then we came out and did the show. And it was a wonderful show, almost foolproof because the setlist was so cool. It was as follows - Set one: "Stink Foot", "Baltimore", "Ain't Got No Heart", "Love Of My Life", "Pogen", "Andy", "Inca", "Eat That Question" - the first time I played it live actually knowing how the piano intro goes - and "Black Napkins." That was a superb set. Set two was "Packard Goose", "Monde" aka "Cleveland" which was a tour premiere, "Tinseltown Rebellion" which was another tour premiere, "Trouble Every Day", "Penguin", "Green Hotel", "Lies So Big", "Jesus" and "Sofa". Encore number one was "I Am The Walrus" and "Zomby Woof", a song we haven't played much. Encore number two: "Stairway To Heaven." Encore number three: "Orange County." Um, Frank's solo on "Monde" was wonderful, I told him after the show that it was an especially wonderful solo, my favorite of the tour so far. The solo on "Orange County" is always a lot of fun for me to accompany, but Scott frequently gets angry at Chad during that solo, because Chad takes great Colaiuta-style liberties with the groove, making it a challenge to find the "one" at any given moment, which is fine, but when Chad ends his journey and returns to the "one" Scott invariably takes exception to its location, because Scott usually tries to keep the rhythm straight while Chad goes off on his forays, but somewhere along the line a discrepancy evolves, and when Chad comes back it makes Scott sound off, which makes Scott a little angry. There's no way to tell who's the culprit, they both have very different conceptions of time. But I don't think anyone in the audience minded, and it was still a really wonderful performance. And my cousin Bobby and his wife Patti witnessed the performance and they were knocked out, they completely loved it. I saw them at the end of the show amidst well-wishers, and one guy who asked me for a pick, and couldn't believe it when I actually gave him one. That was amusing. I spoke to Larry Booth and Eric Buxton and they told me that they're going to be interviewed for the piece on Frank which "60 Minutes" is going to do. That was something, it just goes to show, if you have a little bit of tenacity, you'll get yourself...PROMINENTIZED.

So Bobby and Patti and I went to a place, the name o' which I don't remember at the moment, it might have been The Coach House, and we had a good old time talking and eating BBQ beef sandwiches and onion rings. Bobby really loved the fact that after he and Patti picked up their comp tickets, they were immediately brought past a line of people waiting to get in and breezed directly into the venue, it was very VIP and Bobby kept saying "I loved it! I loved it!" They brought me back to the hotel here and they hadn't seen the concert program so I showed it to them, they were very impressed and I've got to get them one.

Eventually I went to sleep. And when I looked out the window here before going to sleep it was snowing and it somehow looked especially beautiful. I was really happy.

Today I woke up around around 7:45, and right now it's 8:22, and in about 8 minutes we're leaving for the airport. Today I'll be seeing Jonathan in Pittsburgh. Take it easy.

(1998: Following that entry on the cassette, there is a recording of Walt and Albert playing poker at the Poughkeepsie airport with much commentary from other witnesses, far too chaotic to bother transcribing.)

Next episode:
FEBRUARY 25 1988

Last episode:
FEBRUARY 22 1988

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