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Mike Keneally
Bryan Beller
Marc Ziegenhagen
Jason Harrison Smith
Scott Chatfield
Cami Slotkin
Dan Phelps
Leighsa Gonzalez

Mike Keneally

Episode One

What we're doing now is pulling out of the parking lot of the Alabama State Fair, where we just played for about 18 people including a guy who gave us $36 to play "Truckin'" (thank Fudd that Bob Tedde knows the words) while the Dixie Chicks were playing a blazing set in a big shed about four yards away from our stage. Hey, fates - my character is pretty well built by now, OK?

However, let me assure you - this tour has been a rockin' one thus far. Let's take it show by show if you don't mind.

SHOW ONE - Denver; Quixote's True Blue. QTB is a beautiful little Deadhead den which made me smile the moment I stumbled into it. First show of the tour and the first time we'd played anything but brand new songs for about six weeks (the rehearsals for this tour were devoted entirely to new additions to the repertoire, so all the old standbys had to have some rust knocked off 'em). But we had the venue practically to ourselves for almost the entire afternoon so we were able to get some practice in, which we naturally devoted entirely to new material ("Pretty Enough For Girls" and "Taster," plus the new "Dhen Tin" arrangement and "Cheddar" which Jason needed some brushing up on in spite of his game performance of it at the Speigelhalter golden clinic from the last tour). As for the show, it was really good - the sound was marvelous as was the audience, and we all had a lovely time. "Pretty" and "Taster" enjoyed a rapturous response on the occasion of their world premiere, and the debut of the Full Sail video/lava lamp display was beautifully colorful and nice.

SHOW TWO - Muncie; Headliners. Site of one of my favorite nights from the last tour, and the return to the scene did not disappoint. Me, at least. Beller thought it way too undisciplined and "playerly." Which it was of course, so watch me closely as I don't care. I had more than a whole lot of fun, including jamming on Rhodes with opening act Cootie Brown, whom I love. I also love the other opening act, The Stonepickers. It is an abiding goal of mine to return to Muncie and work in the studio with these bands. I played like a motherfucker this night, but don't talk to Bryan about this show. Really! I mean, why upset him.

SHOW THREE - Chicago; Martyrs. Yay, yay and more yay because this was one of the most tortured leading-up-to-a-gig-periods we've suffered through; at various times we felt alternately loved and hated by the club so we had no idea what to expect upon setting foot in the place. We were so freaking welcomed our heads swum with welcomedness, and hooray also for guest host Mike Wofford (not the pianist) and his friend Gina (or Xena as she came to be known after nearly beating the hell out of a girl in the club for looking at her wrong) who took me out and bought me completely awesome noodles at Penny's after Marc Z. kindly pointed the place out to us. Also drank a couple of Spatens. Complaints? Not I? OK, one - a group called The Spelunkers opened the gig and were so amazing frigging good I was ready to crawl into my bus bunk and slink to the next town. But apart from an unusually nerve-wracking start to the show (Bryan and I could barely get our hands on function during "Frozen Beef," the second song of the gig) we were good and felt much audience love. Plus the tables are beautifully painted by somebody and each one is dedicated to a specific dead rock star. The Elvis one is really cool. Oh, somebody gave us $103 for a bumper sticker. THANK YOU. By the way, we REALLY like it when people give us money for no reason. If you're thinking of doing so, we really support the idea.

CLINIC ONE - Westchester; Moeller Music. Really fun! Nice crowd and nice mellow versions of "Pretty" and "Taster." Scary version of "TRANQUILLADO" - I pretty much forgot how to play it - but we all liked this clinic.

SHOW FOUR - Cincinnati; Ripley's. This could have been terrifying and actually was for a while. King's X played in town just a few minutes away on the same night and there's a significant demographic overlap there. During the early part of the evening there were no more than 20 people in the room, so after a couple of foosball games with Nordegg, and checking out some of Ric Hickey's very cool set, I retired to the bus to meditate on game one of the Series (go Yanks), which was shortly supplanted by the very same "Cops" outtake tape that provided so much entertainment on the Vai tour (with the Bynoe soundalike cop asking about the transvestite's penis). By the time I re-entered the club for our show the place had actually filled out nicely, and by the end of our set there was a respectable crowd indeed (including a few who had dropped by following the conclusion of the King's X show, which I forgot to ask how good it was, sorry). I've really been enjoying playing "Rosemary Girl" on this tour (I wasn't excited about this song for a long time) and the response to the new tunes continues to please me greatly. Soon we need to restart work on "Backwards Deb," the other new, new tune of the tour. The fun thing about soundcheck at this gig was Jason giving the drummer from Cootie Brown a drum lesson, a really smart way for Jason to supplement his meager salary. Good one, Jace. If anybody wants a guitar lesson during the tour, show up at the venue between soundcheck and gig and let's discuss it. Ways to supplement tour income are good things.

SHOW FIVE - Birmingham; Alabama State Fair. The gig was just absurd and doesn't really warrant much discussion. Bob Tedde rejoined us today which is delightful. Anyway I was sad the moment we arrived at the fair because Jesse would have loved it, there was a real giraffe and camels and even a live shark display, and it just made me miss Jesse. And then we played this absolutely ridiculous gig with the Dixie Chicks screaming away next door. But the ten or so actual Keneally fans dug the gig, and there ain't nothing wrong with that. There were also fireworks but Marc Z. has asked that he be the one to tell you about them. So he will, soon I'm sure.

All of you internet friends continue to blow my mind on a daily basis - thank you to all guest hosts, Lerches, Da9ve, Tackett, both Michael Sullivans, all of you (please don't be sad if I just saw you and didn't mention you here, my memory for names really bites but it doesn't mean I don't love you. I do). Oh, I wrote a song about Kevin Gilbert today.

I'm going to sleep. Love to you all, really. Thank you.


Episode Two

This band has become a magnificent, bizarre thing. What other band is like us? What other fans are like you? On our best nights (my favorite so far has been the Upstairs At Nick's gig on Oct. 25) I have felt that we are capable of anything. And perhaps more importantly, on nights which were less inspired overall (say, Wilberts on Nov. 1) there are still moments of magic which are chilling and wonderful (in particular at Wilberts the solo section of "Inca" which I would have been happy to play all night).

To me this is a tour which is entirely distinct from v. 1.0 - besides the obvious upswing in quality of life thanks to the marvelous people at Full Sail, I took pains to add a lot of new material to the repertoire so that my intentions in that regard would, hopefully, be clear. And when I think back to the last tour, I can't believe we survived without some of these songs - "Pretty Enough For Girls" and "Taster" are precious to me now, "Nina" and "Wreckage" have really come in handy, "Lightnin' Roy," "Dhen Tin" and "Cheddar" are great pleasures to welcome back into the fold (especially the new, deluxe "Dhen Tin" complete with Whitney Houston quote), "Backwards Deb" feels more essential to me every time we play it, and the finally complete "Cardboard Dog" is a journey I always adore taking. ("Strange Impulse" I feel we're still struggling with, but it's a lovely song, worth the effort to get it right.) This band has reached a point (after a couple of shows which were frankly frightening to me - there have been shows on this tour which for me were not even as strong as the least adept shows early on in v. 1.0, and I was getting worried) where we just can't help but be really, really great, no matter what the playing circumstances and backstage stuff, which is sometimes trying.

And our entourage is such a terribly functional unit now. Having a happy Beller around is a most wonderful thing. Chatfield rips into his infinite tasks with ruthless efficiency and infinite concern for all of our well-being. Dan and Leighsa were remarkable additions to our family and helped our cause in millions of ways - we were so sad to bid them farewell. Bob Tedde and Peggy Totzke made "Potato" and "Cardboard Dog" sound like a visiting choir of angels had bopped into the club for a bit. Ziegen and Smith continue to warm my heart and bless my music with their massive skill and enthusiasm. Cami I simply love more and more with each passing second, I need her on the road with me always. Nordegg and Hill, tech gods, awesomely capable and tireless. Denise, Amos, Mark and Jim (our drivers at various times) pilot this huge vehicle with almost sinful ease, and Dennis drives my van all night in addition to teching, making enough of an impression on Amos that a job as a Full Sail driver awaits him upon the completion of this tour - good going Dennis! And the guest hosts and audiences continue to knock me out with generosity and remind me of why it's so important that I continue to do what I'm doing. And me - I'm singing and playing better than I would have dreamed possible even a few months ago.

Things do get rough. It wouldn't be appropriate for me to get more specific but oh, my, they do. But at no point do they get hopeless, because how could they - with a band this good, and with an audience so supportive and understanding? I remain the luckiest man in the world.

My memory is already hazy regarding specifics of the following shows, so these are the details which remain.

SHOW SIX - Atlanta GA: Dark Horse Tavern - Low turnout, mitigated by the coolness of those who did attend (old friend from San Diego Glenn Norris and Music News Networker Christine Holz being two very welcome faces - other MNNer Lisa Mikita having already attended in Chicago) and the sprightly neatness of the show. The club feeds us well and I eat and drink heartily as Christine administers the backrub that never ends. Thus well limbered-up for the show, I have a relaxed and fun time with the tunes and the band sound marvelous. The show that almost wasn't turns out to be a lovely thing. Small room, really nice people. Very good.

SHOW SEVEN - Spartanburg, SC: Ground Zero - An emergency gig, booked something like four days before the show date, in a HUGE venue which we probably wouldn't have filled with a month's promotion. Thank goodness the staff and management made us feel so welcome and enjoyed the music as much as they did; the comfort they provided, as well as that provided by the pool tables, set up a very nice atmosphere in which to create. The atmosphere proved irresistible for Mark, Billy Bob and Scott, who took to the stage right after soundcheck (Mark on guitar, Billy Bob on drums and Scott on bass) with an assortment of Smashing Pumpkins and classic rock chestnuts rendered instrumentally. The birth of Led Motard. When I catch wind that entering patrons are mistaking them for us, I regretfully pull the plug on their rockstar reverie (did you ever hear the story about when a local news crew showed up a Zappa gig to interview Frank, and the road crew was on stage playing the band's gear on some sort of no doubt interminable blues jam, and the crew filmed the crew thinking they were the band and the footage was shown on the news that night? No more crew jams after that), even though their music provided a raucously entertaining soundtrack to our billiard play. An audience member asks me before the show if it's true that Frank Zappa was a "pervert," which leads to an interesting conversation. And the audience, no more than thirty strong in a venue which could hold fifteen times that many, clumps in front of the stage and enjoys a very strong night of music. I feel happy and creative, the band is responsive and intuitive, a fiercely delightful young poetess named Jess flogs her surprised boyfriend Josh on stage for his birthday, and fun is truly had by all. And the venue is called "Ground Zero"! Best show of the tour so far, and will remain so for another five days.

SHOW EIGHT - Asbury Park NJ: The Saint - I wasn't happy about the gig we did at The Saint in v. 1.0; too long, unfocused, and I felt like I lost the audience halfway through. This show makes up for that one. It's fun seeing IZ with the magnormalous Carl Restivo, and great fun to play with Project/Object again even though my pedalboard is on the dancefloor and I'm on stage (I have to bark pedal-related instructions to Nordegg in mid-song). Getting a good sound on stage is always a bit of a struggle at this venue and it has affected me in the past, but on this night I don't let it. This is a good show, creative and good-humored and it doesn't go on forever. Bob Tedde is in San Diego, playing at a World Series party (the Padres drop the ball for good tonight) but Peggy is with us and harmoizes angelically. Not a world-beating show but solid and musical - the best we've ever offered Asbury Park. Good pizza in the dressing room.

SHOW NINE - West Warwick RI: The Station - Keneallyac nonpareil John Waddington takes it upon himself to book, promote and financially back a BFD show in his home town. The hospitality shown to us by the Waddington family in their home is outrageous (food is spilling out everywhere) and the good feeling thus engendered follows us to the club. Waddington's band opens and it's like watching Crazy Horse in a tiny club, but with more chops - passionate and rocking like nobody's business. Speigelhalter makes his first appearance of the tour, beginning the night as impassive and imperious as usual but by the time we hit the stage he's sitting on the floor in front of me shrieking requests and approval like a Monkees fan - I love this guy. Bob Tedde has returned to the fold and we are a six strong BFD, I feel like the ringleader for an amorphous group of people who can come and go at will and feel as free and creative as they wish to be within the always expanding parameters of BFD. I feel like David Crosby. I envision the future as a crazy spinning colorwheel of musicians, singers and artists all helping to bring my freakish visions to life. This band makes me fucking smile. Tonight we play really well; I sense some confusion from a lot of the audience as we begin, I don't know what they were expecting but I don't think we're it. But as we get used to one another it all turns out fine. This is a really good show. Thank you for everything, John Waddington. Afterwards I call home and Jesse patiently tutors me until I know the words to the special Halloween version of "Itsy Bitsy Spider" which she's just learned; for the record: "The itsy bitsy spider went in the witch's house/Out came the witch and swept the spider out/Down came the ghost to call the witch to play: "Yoo hoo!"/And the itsy bitsy spider went in the house again."

CLINIC TWO: Victor's House of Music, Paramus, NJ - We arrive four hours early and I sleep fitfully in my bunk in the bus in the parking lot; dreaming that we are in the music store and everyone is falling asleep: I ask Chatfield a question, turn to look at him and find him sleeping on his feet...during the clinic Jason stops playing and I turn to find him sleeping on his drum throne. These dreams fortunately do not come true and the clinic is great fun, good versions of "Deb," "Pretty" and "Taster" as I recall, and Jay Dittamo of the original Band From Utopia comes by, not even knowing we're appearing, and happens upon us in mid-tune, a happy happenstance. Speigelhalter attends and helpfully requests tunes when I can't think of any, and gives me a completely rockin' Sammy Davis, Jr./Buddy Rich CD. Thank you! I like it a lot! I find a combination activity book/CD with a Halloween theme and buy it for Jesse.

SHOW TEN - NYC: The Wetlands - a triumph. A great relief since New York gigs are always a clusterfuck organizationally, and this one reaches new heights of clusterfuckability when the keys to my van can't be found and Oteil Burbridge's crew have to pick the vehicle up and move it out of their way. They take the inconvenience in good humor but it's an unnecessary and embarassing distraction for us, the spectre of which threatens to derail the show from the get-go - but we don't let it. I fashion a setlist which will hopefully appeal equally to hardcore fans and the jamband members of the crowd who are there for Disco Biscuits, and the show is a success, enjoyed by all both on and off the stage. Fantastic audience, I feel totally embraced. Bob and Peggy nail the mystery verse of "Stove." I finally meet Richard Gehr, writer for the Village Voice; we've travelled in and out of one another's orbits for a long time and it's nice to finally hook up. I also hang out a bit with a gentleman I'm pleased to call a friend, Chris Haskett, the guitarist for the Rollins Band. We're both ambitious 36-year old guitarists who refuse to say die - we have a lot to talk about. My dear friend Jonathan Greene (we went to kindergarten together) is in attendance and there is not enough time for us to hang out to the extent that we should - my apologies, Jon. The postshow mingling is fierce and rapid-paced, lots of people buy me drinks and it's a real New York blur tonight.

SHOW ELEVEN - Springfield, VA: Jaxx - the very opposite of a triumph, this is the worst gig this incarnation of BFD has yet to perpetrate. I can't play for shit at this gig. Our arrival at the gig finds a club in disarray as most of the staff have recently resigned; Scott Chatfield and co-guest host Christian Webb have to roll around on the newly-tarred roof to put my name on the marquee 'cause the guy who usually does it just moved to Erie, PA to ponder the mysteries of existence. Soundcheck, needlessly, takes forfuckingever, and my patience is at its thinnest. Fortunately, and just in the nick of time, a happy email buddy and XTC fanatic named Harrison Sherwood has invited Scott and myself to a dinner/meeting with a bunch of local other XTC fanatics, and we blissfully allow ourselves to be spirited away for a brief while. The dinner was marvelous and relaxing - thanks to all. If only we could have stopped the night then rather than going on to perform the noisy, bumpy, unpleasant set we then proceed to perform. It felt that way to me, anyhow...the audience, God bless 'em, enjoy themselves fine, but I know the difference between an audience which has been effectively entertained for a while and an audience which has had its collective head ripped off. This audience's head remains firmly in place - sorry, Springfield.

CLINIC THREE - Westchester Music (the clinic was actually at a bar called 15 North): Philadelphia, PA - the day after our worst show gets off to a start with our best clinic, although arrival at the venue (our first clinic not held at the sponsoring music store) is alarming: whereas we normally rely on the music store for gear, the bar's stage is completely empty...we have to set up as though it were a regular gig. This proves too distasteful to even consider so we opt to perform as a trio, and a few trinkets (a dumbec, a slit drum, an ankle shaker etc.) are scared up for Jason. I plug in and immediately discover that a Bill Frisell tone has somehow snaked its way into my gear and fingers, especially neat since Billy Bob had just been playing the new Frisell CD in the front bus lounge. Eyeing Jason's slit drum prompts me into the opening chord sequence of Crimson's "Sheltering Sky"; just as I'd done with "Outside Now" at the NAMM show in January, I quick give Beller a tutorial on the bass line, and my whammy pedal provides a reasonable approximation of Fripp's super high Roland synth lead tone. What a way to start a clinic, and the weirdness doesn't end there: the next selection is "Quimby/I Can't Stop," and I tease a little bit of the "Ticket To Ride" riff during the coda. I stop the song and Beller expresses dismay that we're not actually going to play the song, so I happily oblige, and Jason and I sound lovely on the harmonies (my sister Barbara and I used to harmonize on this song all the time when I was a wee young'un). Gig regular Joe Hlavaty requests "Paranoid Android" and we dive in. "Aglow" is dusted off, sounds great. I continue channeling Frisell during my solos. Bob (Bice) Eichler gives us a huge box of cheddar dolphins. Outrageously good cheese steaks are distributed. And there is a big dog in the bar. A perfect way to spend an afternoon.

SHOW TWELVE - Philly: Upstairs At Nick's - the good juju accompanies us into the evening and we play out best show to date. How outrageous the distinction between today and yesterday! This band is just too good not to be consistently amazing, and tonight we are far more than amazing - I find myself firmly in the zone which completely overtook my senses in May of this year, when I was reinventing myself twice a week on tiny stages in LA. Tonight I can do no wrong either vocally or with the guitar - everything I ever dreamed of being musically is played out on this stage. It is utterly thrilling and it is not lost on the highly enthused audience member just below and to my right, who screams at me throughout the show: "UnbeLIEVable...you are fucking UNBELIEVABLE..." Tonight, at least, I agree. And bless my soul, my band is right there with me every step of the way. Tonight we are a masterpiece. Get the tape if you can. Cal Schenkel is here, as are the flaming potato guys. A perfect way to spend an evening.

SHOW THIRTEEN - NYC: The Bottom Line - When we played here with Palermo's band in 1996 it was one of the great nights of my life. I really felt that I did justice to Frank's music that night when I sat in with the big band, and the reception our little three-piece BFD got was warming - the night has assumed legendary proportions in my mind. When we came back for WNHTH v1.0 I intentionally lowered my expectations, and got blind-sided by Palermo's arrangments of "Frang Tang" and "Bad Moments" - I was outrageously moved and it became another great night for me. So this time I allowed myself to expect more of the same. Sigh - didn't get there. The first BFD set was a bit of a mess, all flash and inelegance, culminating in a rushed attempt to squash "Inca Roads" into a five-minute slot and completely obliterating the song's majesty in the process. Disappointing; Matt Resnicoff remarks to me afterward that the set was "sloppy," a completely and sadly accurate assessment. The first Palermo set brings another surprise, and a totally delightful one: Ed's wonderful swing arrangement of "I Will," which Carl Restivo sings the shit out of. Apart from that, the high point of the set, and of the evening for me, is Ed's arrangment of Jeff Beck's "Diamond Dust," a song I've always adored and have long dreamed of playing. I'd asked Ed to arrange it but for some reason didn't take the time to learn it properly until about an hour before show time, so I headed into the tune with some trepidation - the solo section has a lot of different chords to improvise over and I had no wish to sound lost. The first rendition tonight, though, is filled with real magic - Ed's arrangement is a loving homage to George Martin's gorgeous original string arrangement, and I enter into the no mistake zone - everything I do turns out okay. Happiness. BFD set two is a significant improvement over the first, winding up with a moment of real poignancy for me: this is Bob Tedde's last show of the tour and I choose to end the show with "I'm So Tired" (clue: when I put this song in a set list, there's always a good reason for it), during which Bob and I share a microphone and a tender moment (partially subverted by another band member's insistence on inserting inappropriate sound effects at inappropriate times - we have a talk afterward). But while set two is an improvement, it's still not a real special event in BFD history. The Wetlands saw the best of BFD in NYC this time around. The second Palermo set is marked by a really nice rendition of an Egberto Gismonti tune which I just stand there and listen to, and a "Diamond Dust" which finds me not as inspired as the first. Both Palermo sets also contained nice versions of Tony Williams' "Snake Oil." Oh, we also played some Zappa tunes. For me my best ever moments with Palermo are still the "Cleveland/Billy The Mountain/Shove It Right In" medleys from April 1996. Wow.

CLINIC FOUR - Albany: Parkway Music - A whole room upstairs is ours to assault; as load-in and set-up are happening I check out the music book selection and find a cherry copy of "The Frank Zappa Guitar Book," hold it aloft to the assembled and ask if anyone wants it - Jason beats Billy Bob to the punch and becomes the proud owner of this rare gem. We have a happy crowd for the clinic, but the sound of the band is not very happening to my ears...we don't seem to be listening to each other. It's all very bumptious and "virtuosic", not the least bit seductive, and I seek to seduce. I conceal my displeasure during the clinic, but bring it up in a band meeting on the bus. Except for Philly and Spartanburg, and Denver I guess, this group just isn't performing to its potential.

SHOW FOURTEEN - Albany: Valentine's - Nobody came to this show. Their loss; this was a fucking good show. I was not in the best of moods beforehand, having just spent a good amount of time talking to a homeless guy on the street and trying to convince him to call his family on the west coast who wanted to take care of him, and giving him more than enough money to make the call; about a half hour later I saw him calling a couple of guys walking by him on the street "niggers" and I wanted to take my money back, and right before the gig started he was hauled away in an ambulance...I don't think he was dead or anything, because the people carrying the stretcher kept laughing. Also my van got towed away and it cost me $97 to get it back. Thus suffused with love for humanity I took to the stage, but praise be, once again the music doesn't fail me and the precious few in attendance are treated to something they shouldn't soon forget. This is the show where I started playing "Wish You Were Here" without forewarning my fellow Dolphins, and they fall into formation like the gods they are, Beller even scat-singing the solo which I don't know how to play on the outro. Other specifics about the show have escaped me but I remember how it made me feel: fearless, strong, capable, ludicrously musical (to borrow a phrase which Andy Partridge was kind enough to use in reference to me in the new XTC book), and very fortunate indeed. The bus meeting has a tangible effect on the music; the spaces between notes are wider, the collective improvisation more focused and sympathetic, and the overall groove much sexier and more visionary. This is a very happy show for me.

SHOW FIFTEEN - Ft. Wayne, IN: Crawdaddy's - The Fort Wayne experience actually begins a day before the show; Amos kicks ass getting us from Albany to Fort Wayne and we find ourselves with a real live day off. Although my day off ends up not being one at all; Scott and I are met by Suze, the club promoter, and Felix, the guest host, and we all go to "The Fort," a radio station where I am to shill on behalf of the following night's gig. (Felix utterly saves our ass in this regard - we've been miserably low on "Sluggo!" CDs on this tour, even though it's the album we're ostensibly promoting out here - the pressing plant apparently lost the artwork [it's since been found] and Immune is currently out of stock, and has to recall copies from distributors in order for us to have any of them to sell on the road. Unfortunately we are total dopes and sell our last copy before receiving a new shipment, leaving us with not a single copy to play on the radio - NOT ONE OF US has a copy of "Sluggo!" with us. Fucking ridiculous. Of course none of the local record shops have one. Felix arrives at our hotel with his personal copy [signed by me during the last tour] just as Suze is preparing to spirit us away, and willingly surrenders it to the cause. THANK YOU FELIX.) On the air we kibbitz and play "Potato" and "Frozen Beef" from the CD, and Scott and I are again amused and amazed at the effect radio compression has on my mixes (radio compression is a topic Scott would happily hold court on for hours). An acoustic guitar is presented to me on the air and, still under last night's spell, I croon "Wish You Were Here." Hearing the tape later I'm very pleased by it. After the radio, Suze and her adorable 11-year old daughter Elizabeth (Chatfield decides she's an airline pilot and keeps asking her questions about her training, how many hours she's logged in the air etc.; the sophisticated Elizabeth responds to all questions in kind) take Scott, Dan, Felix and myself to dinner at a delightful Mexican restaurant a stone's throw from our hotel, and then a bunch of take in "Pleasantville" at a theatre a different stone's throw away (very disappointing film, although the masturbating mom scene is a nice image which stays with me).

The next day is show day. Poor Jason has been feeling super sick and has been acting quite incapacitated for the past several days. The rest of us are waiting for John Glenn to be shot into space; we sit mute and staring, except for Dennis who compares CNN's coverage, Cronkite and all, to past shuttle coverage and finds this year's model very much wanting. I'd like to see another movie but I'm trapped in the hotel, waiting for Suze to call and inform me whether or not I'm doing more radio schtuff today. I'm not, but by the time I discover this fact it's too late to see a movie, so I drink a small series of Guinnesses and hang with my happy tour buds instead. We are greeted at the gig by a marquee reading "National Rec Artist Mike Kineally." We ask a few folks if they'd fix it up and are received tepidly, so I take matters into my own hands; within seconds I have become a "National Ric Artist." On the sidewalk in front of the venue are a clump of punks who stomp hither and yon yelping "Where's the guy who met Frank Zappa?" Somehow I don't feel compelled to introduce myself but a few minutes later they figure it out; they want autographs, that's all, and have some weird questions to ask (my favorite: "Do you have a lot of money?"). They're bumming because they're too young to get in, so I suggest that they procure an arsenal of semi-automatics and force their way in. They brighten and look as though it's an idea definitely worth pursuing. The show? Real good! I feel like we're still bathing in the good vibes of the Albany gig, that this band has been reminded of just what we're supposed to be out here. Making things even more bitchin' is the visiting contingent from Muncie, IN - just seeing these people, whom I love, puts me in a freedom frame of mind, but (don't fret, Bry) I don't let things get as cosmically far afield as the last Muncie show - tonight's a trip, but we are firmly in control. Yay, and yay again, tonight is a very happy night. We play a lot of pool too.

Thus ends episode two of my magnificent WNHTH 2.0 tour missive! Join us for part three soon, won'tcha? Love ya! Bye!


Episode Three

10/30 Lexington KY Hemmingway's with The Johnson Brothers

It was cold outside. Fun gig! The Johnson Bros. are a completely cool cover band, the Rockola of Kentucky, and they were responsible for this two-night stint. They summoned us to the club - they're regulars here - and handed us the headlining slot for both nights, including the all-important Halloween gig (we almost didn't have a Halloween gig - suitable venues in towns where we weren't be murdered were difficult to nail down). The Johnsons had hoped for much cross-pollination of bands, but tonight we were too shy to join in on their set much (Jason sat in on a couple of things) so we played a lot of pool and had a fabulous time. Karen Chatfield (the "Mo" of "Mo and Mo") graced us with her loveliness. Tonight's show was fun!

Halloween Lexington KY Hemmingway's with The Johnson Brothers

This was, of course, the day of our legendary pool tournament, and flush from my shocking victory I was ready to do a fine show. We did! It was as playful as fudge. Much more incestuous behavior between the two bands compared to the first night - I played guitar on a couple of Santana tunes, on most of side two of "Abbey Road" and on at least one song I hadn't heard before, as well as inflicting my drumming on the assembled throng during "I Am The Walrus." The fun lasted all night - we had a great show, we got to judge a costume contest, and I was very grateful to be in such a cool club with such cool people surrounding me on Halloween.

Sun. 11/1 Cleveland OH Wilberts

Why can't we do a good show at this venue? "Inca" is good here. Why do I feel like I wrote about this already...I know someone on the MK newsgroup or RandomFandom has referenced the fact that I've commented publicly on liking this version of "Inca." Where/when did I do that? I have no memory left. Anyway, apart from "Inca" I'd have been happy to stay on the bus tonight. At least the dinner was wonderful, better than last time when I decided to get beer-battered slices of Hell. And no-one's laptop got soaked this time 'round.

Mon. 11/2 Madison WI Club Tavern

And, just like the last time we played HERE, this is a wonderful show played for absolutely wonderful people. I just love the vibe in this room, especially how the layout allows for a nice audience stroll during the "daily constitutional" wireless guitar solo. We haven't been doing the "Uglytown Audience Composition" middle section on this tour, but nostalgia for the lovely rendition the last show in this venue brought us makes me misty, and I resurrect the tradition, very successfully thanks to you creative Madisonians (the chorus this time is simply a long, downwardly-sloping orgasmic moan - thanks Xena). My voice goes south at one point during the show and an audience member (friend of Marc Z's I think? Forgot your name? Sorry? I have no memory left) chivalrously tries his hand and throat at "Spearmint Pup," probably the hardest song in the repertoire to sing accurately. Brave man! I loved every moment of this gig.

Tues. 11/3 Omaha NE Rainbow Music Center - SWR clinic

There's a super-nice grand piano here and Marc commandeers it, just "Envelope"-ing like there's no tomorrow. I show the lads in the band a song I'd just started writing at home before the tour started, this super-jaunty Who rip-off tune which might be the album-opener for the next slab. (An example of the fun of life - here we are rehearsing the tune in a tiny room in a music store in Omaha - and today [December 21] I went to the PO Box in San Diego and got a CD with this rehearsal on it. My life is fun.) We improv super-spacily for a good long time as the audience files in. We play calmly and well. Soothing, a warm counterpart to the chilly snowy weather. Good crowd, and I look forward to a satisfying show this evening.

Tues. 11/3 Lincoln NE Knickerbockers

Puts the "un" in unsatisfying. Maybe if more than eight people had showed up...had fun playing pool, though, and hanging out with Erica, one of the singers from Oppy's album who makes a surprise appearance here and brightens my night considerably. This is also the last show of the tour to be attended and documented by the absolutely delightful Dave Foster, and I'm truly going to miss him. (It's thanks to him that I now have a copy of the rehearsal from the clinic soundcheck. You make me happy, Dave.)

Thurs. 11/5 Salt Lake City UT Dead Goat Saloon

Yeah, Brad, we're really playing in SLC. Finally. It's kind of poorly attended, and the sound guy doesn't always find it necessary to be in the building while we play, but I really like this show. Not a classic necessarily, but creative and strong and impolite and long. I needed this show bad, because around Lincoln time I started getting tired of looking at the master song list to put sets together...all my song titles started looking overly familiar and played-out to me. I'd look at them and go "aaggggghhh." MK needs a break. Bryan falls down in the driving snow during load-out, but he consents to not look pissed-off long enough to pose for the "BFD Winter Wonderland" photo, which will eventually serve as our holiday greeting card, adorning the front page of the Keneally site.

Fri. 11/6 Denver CO Quixote's True Blue

And I needed this show too, which is as much an improvement over Salt Lake City as that show was over Lincoln. Antal makes his first appearance of the tour - what a sweetheart of a man he is - and I love returning to the venue and the people which made us so happy at the beginning of the tour. The place is totally packed to the gills and everybody in the room is rocking. What a marvelous vibe in this venue! If we lived closer I'd gladly play here every week. The first set is deadly accurate and zooms expertly through moods and dynamics, while the second set, while not nearly so slick, hits a groove zone and people are twirl-dancing with reckless abandon. I love it. I'd like a lot more crowds like this one - they know how to feel and they're not afraid to demonstrate it proudly.

Somewhere around here we have a couple of harrowing, icy late-night drives, and during the one from Denver to Durango we almost hit a deer and the resultant swerve sends me flying several feet down the aisle of the front lounge of the bus, banging me up bad (I feel it for days) and causing my freshly constructed PB&J sammich to fully sail behind the comfy chair, where it sits waiting and intact upon a ledge. Mr. Pither would be proud.

Sat. 11/7 Durango CO San Juan Room

The vibe in this room sucked on the last tour, but the wedding party in the second set made it, at least, weird and memorable. This time 'round, the vibe in the room just fucking sucks, period, and the first set is completely not fun. In addition to my bones aching from the deer-swerving incident, my fingers are in sad shape: I got over excited in Denver last night and attacked my guitar vigorously, tearing off a bunch of finger flesh in the process. My fingers have been killing me all day, and I've got Band-Aids piled atop Band-Aids all over them. I attempt to play the first five songs with the bandages on but it's a ridiculous conceit, so I down a hard shot of schnapps and tear them off. The pain is so distracting that I don't feel connected with anything going on, on or off stage. I look deep inside myself during the break and adjust my thinking and behavior for set two and, with the help of many more shots of schnapps, have a good time. But this is not one for the history books at all.

Sun. 11/8 Breckenridge CO The Alligator Lounge

I need a shot of something after the last gig and at first it doesn't look like this'll be it - the room is not exactly teeming with humanity, and most of those who are here don't really seem to know who we are. So, of course, it's a great show, with much great improvisation and vibeyness. The management and staff make us feel totally welcome, and the town is absolutely gorgeous in the snow (and ISOLATED; when we walk to dinner after soundcheck there's NO ONE at ALL on the street. It's bizarre but I really like the feeling of having the run of the town, and the resultant sense of authority helps out the show, I think). The audience, after emitting a palpable sense of uncertainty early in the proceedings, warms to us before very long and turn out to be a fabulous bunch of people - I really like this night a whole lot. More good pool too, although the table is a wobbly slanted joke.

Wed. 11/11 Seattle WA The Fenix

Rob Samler presents us with a neon "Charlie's Dolphins" sign which looks absolutely magnificent hanging behind the merch table. That sign, along with the presence of many friends in the room and the good feeling lingering from the last gig, make me want to play play play but my gear is giving Thomas and Dennis conniptions. Our start time is interminably delayed and I start to get anxious and unhappy, but if the show is damaged as a result it's only slightly - neither band nor audience has a bad time tonight. This is a very cheerful, upbeat, professional performance - not necessarily magic, but a lot closer to Upstairs At Nick's than to Jaxx.

Thurs. 11/12 San Francisco CA Club Cocodrie

Ultimately the best thing about tonight is the time spent with some very lovely people - it's Antal's last stand, Christian Heilman stops by, Henry Kaiser gives me a foot massage on the bus, the always wonderful to see Michael Harrison is wonderful to see, Gavin, a friend of mine from high school, is in effect, and on and on - lots of friends and we have a great time. And Bob and Peggy swoop into town to lend their magic voices one more time. I just wish the show was up to the same level as all the good-heartedness surrounding it. It's not bad. But it's not great by any means. Not the bestest way to end a tour. But the tour ends anyway.

But am I a sad boy? No!! I'm thrilled to be heading home (the only human on the tour who doesn't appear to want it to go on forever). I'm real tired, and I learn that I can indeed get a little fatigued by my material, even though our interpretations of it change so radically from night to night (thank God). Still, I find myself wanting to play certain types of different material every night, and a scanning of the master list finds no candidates which fit the bill. Which can only mean one thing - time to start writing again.

I am also thrilled because I know that we have done a good thing with these eleven weeks of touring. This kind of concentrated live BFD activity was a long, long time in coming, and the response we got (even at some of the very most sparsely-attended performances) provided constant and cumulative validation. When I was a teenager, starting to formulate the tweaked concepts and techniques which populate my work, I could only dream of a following which would not only tolerate but actually enjoy the results of my skewed imagination. And now I find myself playing for people who don't just enjoy the stuff, who make it clear to me in so many ways that the work I'm doing is real important to them. Which makes it that much more important to me. I feel a strong responsibility not to head down the road so well-trodden by so many other musicians, who start out the careers in a blinding flash of innovation and who let complacency and habit overtake them as they grow old. My hunger to achieve more and to dig deeper will never be sated - there will always be new horizons to explore. I sit here and think about all I plan to accomplish and I become giddy. The future feels SO GOOD to me.

Thank you, endlessly thank you to all who participated in the tour in every way - band, crew, club staff, audiences, everyone. You made dreams come true for me and provided an endless supply of priceless memories. Thanks beyond comprehension to Full Sail for making the second leg of "We're Not Here To Help" the most satisfying touring experience of my life and for making my little band so damn happy.

And thank you for reading this journal. If you were at any of the shows, I hope this provided some interesting background. And if you weren't, I hope it made you wish you were - and that we'll see you next time.

Loving you madly,


Bryan Beller

I can hardly believe it myself. I'm having fun.

I mean real, honest, genuine, unqualified good-time action. This is big news. This is the first time in maybe two years that I've felt this happy about the current state of affairs. Why, you ask? The answer is simple...


After having experienced firsthand the near-impossible strain of touring in what truckers not-so-fondly refer to as "four-wheelers" (that's "cars" to you and no-CB-speakin' ol' me), the magic of the Full Sail Tour Bus is so overwhelming that it's practically impossible to put into words. But I shall try nonetheless. Consider the following a study in contrasts. I'll refer to the previous three tours as "Life A" (for Ass-Burningly Inhuman) and the current tour as "Life B" (for Bitchin' Beyond Belief).

8:00 AM

Life A: Wake up in hotel room shared with two other people, scramble to be showered and on the road within an hour. Went to bed at 3:30 AM the previous night.

Life B: Continue sleeping in air-conditioned bus bunk. Went to bed at 4:30 AM the previous night.

9:00 AM

Life A: Hit the road in one of two (or three) small, tightly-packed vehicles. 350 miles to go. That's a seven hour drive.

Life B: Continue sleeping in air-conditioned bus bunk.

10:00 AM

Life A: Stop at rest area to gas up and pound fast food. Stop must be no longer than 40 minutes or else the entourage will be late for soundcheck in, oh, let's say...Huntington, West Virginia.

Life B: Continue sleeping. Zzzzzzz.

11:30 AM

Life A: On the road, peeling towards West Virginia. Urination breaks are frowned upon.

Life B: Wake up already in West Virginia, urinate to heart's content in bathroom on bus. Brew coffee, perhaps have a banana or apple. Maybe even a bowl of Fruit Loops.

12:00 NOON

Life A: Still driving. Try to get some sleep curled up in a corner of the car.

Life B: Put on rollerblades, choose cassette for Walkman, exit bus and survey the local asphalt for suitable blading conditions. Some days it is a truck stop parking lot, which is serviceable enough (and also adds the bonus fun of spying the looks on the faces of the truckers when they see a long-haired, pinko-commie, hippie-lookin' Bassboy whizzing by). But on better days it starts out in a hotel parking lot and becomes a Tour On Wheels of the surrounding area. A great workout is had by yours truly.

1:30 PM

Life A: My turn to drive. Oh boy.

Life B: Return to bus, have a cold drink. Retrieve day bag from bunk and shower in either a truck stop shower (which, I might add, is incredibly clean and comfortable) or await my turn to shower in our hotel day room.

3:00 PM

Life A: Bucket stop. Legs feel numb. 90 miles to go.

Life B: Sparkling clean. Go find some lunch, make a few phone calls, maybe watch some Digital Satellite TV on the bus.

4:30 PM

Life A: Arrive at West Virginia hotel. We've got 30 minutes to check in and dump our stuff in the rooms so that we can make our 5:30 load-in for soundcheck. Everybody is starving.

Life B: Sitting in bus, watching videotape of "Cops: Too Hot For TV".

5:30 PM

Life A: Arrive at venue. It's no palace. We load in the gear and wait for the club's sound guy to get his shit together. There's no band room, so we just hang around inside the venue. The A/C in the club has not yet been turned on--to save their money for the generous guarantee they'll be paying us later that night, no doubt. We're still starving but we can't leave until soundcheck is over.

Life B: Arrive at venue. It's no palace. We load in the gear and wait for the club's sound guy to get his shit together. There's no band room, so the bus becomes our dressing room. Once our gear is set up on stage, we return to the bus and pass the time until the sound guy is ready for us by either relaxing in the bunks, listening to some CD's, or maybe even by making a sandwich. There's plenty of ham and cheese in the fridge.

6:30 PM

Life A: Soundcheck is a nightmare. The engineer apparently has some wires crossed...inside his fucking head. The road-rashed and famished band grows testy during a less-than-productive hour-long soundcheck.

Life B: Soundcheck is a nightmare. The engineer's parents--brother and sister, of course--are in attendance for some reason. The resemblance is, uh, scary. It's no surprise that our monitor mix sounds like ass. We return to the bus and laugh about it afterwards, engaging in some gallows humor about what "Cardboard Dog" will sound like this evening.

8:00 PM

Life A: Finally everyone gets to eat. The hollowed-out look on our faces says it all. Music is the farthest thing from our minds.

Life B: Everyone goes about their pre-show ritual. I wash my face and brush my teeth in the bus before returning to the club to play some pool and check out the opening act. Jason and I discuss possibilities for the solo sections in "Inca Roads". Mike and Marc Z. talk about chord voicings for "The Desired Effect".

9:30 PM

Life A: On my third Absolut Screwdriver. The first two seem to have had little effect.

Life B: Running the billiards table, taking on all comers. One drink is enough to loosen me up for the show.

11:00 PM

Life A: Showtime. I turn my head around several times during the set so that the audience doesn't see me yawning. This is the one part of the day when everything feels OK. The road disappears, the hunger disappears, the weariness disappears...all replaced by music. I'm anything but nervous.

Life B: Showtime. I'm thinking about the vocal harmonies in "Cardboard Dog", the probably-lame solo I'll play in "My Dilemma", the impossible lick in "Inca Roads". Given the time to think about it, I'm actually a little bit nervous. But it's good nervous energy.

1:30 AM

Life A: The show is over. I can't remember anything that happened. Because we only have one roadie (Thomas Nordegg), I have no time to meet people, thank them for coming to the show and sign autographs--I must help in loading the gear truck so that we can leave quickly. After all, we need to get back to the hotel and get as much sleep as we can for the following day's 300-mile drive.

Life B: The show is over. I recall fondly several moments during the show when actual magic occurred. Our two-man crew (Thomas Nordegg and Dennis Hill) take down the gear while I happily sign autographs and meet some of the people who came to the show, some from as far away as Cincinnati.

2:30 AM

Life A: Loadout is over. We pile into the four-wheelers and head back to the hotel for an abbreviated night's sleep.

Life B: Loadout is over. We pile into the air-conditioned bus for post-show consumption of beverages (both soft and hard) and food (maybe some microwaved leftover Chinese food from dinner, or perhaps some crackers and cheddar cheese). A lively discussion of the just-played show ensues. The bus pulls away from the venue and starts on the 300-mile trip to the following night's gig.

3:30 AM

Life A: We fall asleep, three to a hotel room. Wake-up call the next morning is scheduled for 9:00 AM.

Life B: We're still up, usually listening to a Mini-Disc recording of the night's show. After that, the VCR pumps out Thomas Nordegg's favorite episodes of "The Simpsons". Some people are already in their bunks, sleeping through the occasional bursts of laughter emanating from the front lounge of the bus.

4:00 AM

Life A: Hard sleep. Zzzzzzz.

Life B: Laying in my bunk, about to go to sleep, wondering what excitement the next day's rollerblading conditions will bring.

I suppose it's only fitting that I end this particular motif of this Member Missive with a final study in contrast. As I write this, I'm sitting in the rear lounge/office of the Full Sail bus. We just finished playing Wilbert's in Cleveland, where a small but appreciative crowd witnessed us play two of the finest versions of "Inca Roads" and "The Cowlogy" we've ever managed to pull off. Just minutes ago, Jason, Marc, Mike and I were talking about our favorite (and not-so-favorite) moments of the show, smiling and reminiscing while the bus pulled onto I-90 towards Madison, Wisconsin. But all is not well--your humble narrator, despite his newly-found vegetarian eating habits and daily workouts, is fighting a nasty illness that already took poor Jason down for a week or so. You can imagine what Life A would be like with a raging head cold/flu, right? Well here's what it's like in Life B:

I tell Tour Manager Scott Chatfield that I think I'm getting sick. Scott goes into one of the bags in his bunk and whips out copious quantities of Vitamins A, C and Zinc (scored off of homeopathic medicine guru Andre of Project/Object back in NJ). But I shouldn't take them on an empty stomach, and I haven't eaten since dinner (a veggie burger, of course). What to do? Cami suggests some wheat bread we have stored in the cupboard. Sure, I think, but what should I put on it? Ah--a little spicy mustard should do the trick. So after consuming the bread, I reach into the cooler and grab a cold Diet Coke to wash down the horse pills provided to me by Chatfield. Feeling confident that I have half a chance of beating this cold, I return to the rear lounge where I resume the construction of this very Member Missive.

Now, I still may get sick, but sometimes I wonder if being sick in Life B isn't a better deal than being well in Life A. Either way, the level of gratitude I feel towards Full Sail Real World Education and the people who are responsible for their sponsorship of this tour (chiefly, Billy Bob Phelps and father/Full Sail founder Jon Phelps) is way beyond anything I could possibly write here.

There's simply too much stuff for me to go into as far as day-to-day happenings--and besides, we have the ultra-voluminous Ziegenwritin' for that--but there are a couple of things I'd like to touch on before I begin daydreaming about tomorrow's rollerblading adventure.

First, there's SWR. Though there have been fewer clinics on this tour than on WNHTH 1.0, they've been quality over quantity all the way. Huge thanks to those who showed up at Parkway Music in Clifton Park, NY, Victor's House Of Music in Paramus, NJ, Moeller Music in Cincinnati and 15 North (Westchester Music) in West Chester, PA. It's easy to forget about little ol' SWR in the midst of all this humoungous Full Sail generosity, but it's my job to make sure you don't. Another case in point about how well everything's been going: the clinic at Victor's House Of Music in Paramus, NJ was so successful that we literally saw people buying SWR gear before we even left the store. It's the least I could do for them after how great they've been to me these last few months, right?

Secondly, there was The First Annual Beer For Dolphins Halloween Invitational 8-Ball Tournament. That's right--on October 31, during our second day in Lexington, KY, every member of the entourage (minus Chatfield, whose wife Karen was in visiting that day) each threw in ten bucks for a round-robin pool tournament in which everybody played everybody once and the folks with the two best overall records played one game for the pot. Now I don't know if you know this or not, but I'm a pretty decent pool player, and some were picking me to take the whole thing. But Jason is a crack shot as well, and Dennis Hill (roadie/driver) is no slouch either. Of course, we never counted on a ringer from the outside.

We first met Amos Bolton in New Jersey, who flew in to relieve our original bus driver, Jim. That's what Amos does for a living--drive for Full Sail. Jim referred to him as "a real redneck" before leaving us, and upon meeting Amos I confronted him with this information. His reply: "I'm not a redneck. I'm a hillbilly from Northern Alabama. You see, hillbillies got more class than rednecks. Now ol' Jim, he's a redneck." Standing at 6'1" and 210 pounds, with a trucker's bushy mustache and a can of Skoal at the ready, Amos proved to be one of the single most engaging human beings I've ever met in my life. The conversation he had with Classics-Major-UCLA-Graduate Cami Slotkin over the CB (Cami was driving the other car at the time) was one of the funniest things to ever occur in the history of Channel 19 (for those of you who must know, Amos christened her CB handle for her: "Calamity"). But back to the subject...once he heard we were having a pool tournament, he expressed some interest. I asked him, "You play pool?" He said nothing, simply allowing his lips to curl up into a sly smile underneath his mustache. I gulped.

Over the next few days, Amos proceeded to buy his own stick (he left his at home) and whup the entire entourage with little effort, grinning all the while. He also left his mark on those poor souls who dared to challenge him in venues from Albany to Lexington. By the day before the tournament, we'd (we being the supposed hot shots Jason, Dennis and myself) all but conceded the tournament to him and were resigned to playing for second place. But being the gentleman that he was, he refused to play for the prize and instead simply participated for the sport of it, playing everyone in the process. It was interesting to see who he lost to...Cami, Billy Bob and Mike Keneally. He wasted Jason, Dennis and I without even breaking a sweat. I guess he kind of ended up being the tournament handicap. By the way, Amos left today for home, and even though we have a cool new driver named Mark, to me he'll always be the best driver we ever had. I miss him already.

So who won the tournament, you ask? Well, here's a hint. It wasn't me, or Jason, or even Dennis. Nope, us alleged hustlers went a combined 7-16 in the round robin. Marc Ziegenhagen beat me in an upset and finished a respectable 4-4. Cami beat Dennis and Jason in double upsets but finished 3-5. Even rookie Billy Bob Phelps made a run at a winning record, but in the end life experience apparently proved to be the difference as the two oldest players in the tournament reached the final round: Mike Keneally and Thomas Nordegg. Keneally is no Minnesota Fats, but he's a streak shooter of the highest order and when he gets hot he's nearly unbeatable. Nordegg was a real dark horse, but he must have replaced the microchip in his brain with a special Deep Blue Billiards model or something, because he kicked some major butt. And the winner of the championship was...Mike Keneally! I know what you're thinking--no, the tournament wasn't fixed, although there were plenty of us who appreciated the fact that Mike certainly needed the money worse than the rest of us did. As MK himself said after it was over, "It's all going back into your salaries anyway." As a consolation prize, Nordegg got back his $10. entry fee. When asked for a comment, the enigmatic Austrian said but one word: "Excellent."

I should also mention Leighsa Gonzalez, a 22-year-old television director from Chicago who literally volunteered her services as Everything Girl for a good part of WNHTH 2.0. She did a lot of the dirty work that no one wanted to do or even had time to do--clean the bus, go food shopping, run errands, deal with angry club owners, solve promotional snafus--and never asked for a cent in return. By the time she left us, I even started to feel bad about commandeering the bunk that was pre-designated for her (bad Bassboy, BAD Bassboy!). Anyway, she rocked lots and lots and deserves major BFD props. Welcome to our crazy little world, Leighsa.

And always deserving of her own paragraph is the lovely Cami Slotkin, who continues to make sure I don't fall into tiny little pieces as we travel through this great land of ours. A more unique and charming woman would be difficult to find. Just be careful what you do to her, or you could end up being the subject of a poem read aloud on stages across America.

There's so much I could go into about other wonderful little moments from WNHTH 2.0 so far--our jam with The Johnson Brothers in Lexington, opening up for Oteil Burbridge in New York City, the return of The Cult Of The Flaming Potatoes in Philly--but I'm going to bring this thing home and talk about the men most responsible for my current state of bliss.

Scott Chatfield has always been kind of like a godfather to Beer For Dolphins, providing web services, free promotion, and general behind-the-scenes wisdom and advice that only a man as experienced and whip-smart as our beloved CEO could provide. But even I was surprised when he volunteered to Tour Manage on WNHTH 1.0 for literally no money, for two reasons: One, it's an impossible job under the best of circumstances; two, he'd never really done it before. So in order to get him up to speed, I agreed to help out in any way possible, and we became a two-headed monster of Tour Management in the process. As you all already know, Chatfield had a family emergency in the middle of the last tour, but what you don't know is that it occurred just as he was really beginning to handle being Solo Tour Manager Boy. So just as he was about to take the reins, he had to leave for San Diego immediately and--guess what?--I became the Tour Manager for what were arguably the toughest eight days of the tour. We survived until he got back, but I was near the point of complete breakdown upon his return. It would not be a stretch to say that I never fully recovered from those eight days of being both the T.M. and the BFD bass player.

Fast forward to just before WNHTH 2.0. Scott has agreed to be Tour Manager once more (albeit this time not for free). Through no fault of Scott's, plans are again being made at the last nanosecond, there's no real itinerary, and I'm afraid of being called into service again. And as much as I'll do anything to help this band succeed, I learned something invaluable on WNHTH 1.0--I can't be intimately involved with the day-to-day operation of managing a ten-person entourage and still be the best bassist for BFD that I can be. I felt very strongly about my need to totally commit myself to THE MUSIC, and not the booking of hotel rooms and location of the nearest truck stop. And even though I told both Scott and Mike Keneally himself about how I felt, I was still worried about it going into the tour.

You know what? I'm not worried anymore. Not only is Scott handling the stuff that I'm familiar with--money, club owners, hotels, directions--but he almost single-handedly pulled off the Full Sail deal just days before the tour and has acted as BFD/Full Sail liaison ever since. It is because of Scott Chatfield that I am able to rollerblade and sleep late and think about whether or not my solo in "My Dilemma" will be any good at any point in the future. It is because of Scott Chatfield that I feel like two-and-a-half years of work and three rolling boot-camp experiments--er, I mean Mike Keneally/BFD tours--have been worth it, because this is what I've dreamed of since the day I left Z to pursue Beer For Dolphins full time. For me, this tour is all about THE MUSIC. And that is because of Scott Douglas Chatfield.

I did say "men" responsible for my current state of bliss, didn't I? There have been moments on this tour when Mike and I have been alone on the bus and looked at each other and jumped up and down like giddy schoolboys, yelping at one another, "We have a bus! We have a bus!" But to leave out Jason Harrison Smith and Marc Ziegenhagen would be a terrible tragedy, because they're essential components of the musical magic that's been occurring ever since they signed on. Having had the benefit of playing Mike's music for longer than most folks around these days, I can tell you that we've got something truly special going on. This is one fuck of a four-piece band. You should have seen Marc and Jason playing behind Keneally's solo in "Inca Roads" tonight. I was feeling a bit ill and perhaps less than inspired, but they were so unquestionably on that they carried me right into the heart of what I love most about playing with Mike--those moments when everything else disappears except for the sound on stage that very second. That, my good friends, is true bliss. Thanks to the above mentioned, I'm experiencing healthy and frequent doses of it for the first time in a long time.

But really, in the end, it all comes back to Mike. At times over the past three tours, I've seen people who came to a Beer For Dolphins show and spoke to Mike afterwards walk away with a near-incandescent glow in their eyes, as if they'd been somehow touched by an indescribable magic force. One of the greatest things about this tour is that I've actually had some time to digest why that occurs on such an alarmingly regular basis. I don't know how else to put it: I'm a lucky man to be as close to him as I am. Even if that closeness is mainly expressed in exchanges of depraved vulgarities, it's expressed nonetheless.

What else is left to say about a tour in which it still hasn't rained during any of our load-ins or load-outs? Not much, except that the way I feel now, even with me being a bit under the weather, I wish this tour would never end.

Ecstatically yours,

The Bassboy Number Sixty-Nine

Marc Ziegenhagen

Hiya. Well it's Member Missive 2.0 Time and we're approaching Atlanta, GA where we'll be playing tonight and sleeping this morning. We get to sleep on the bus and wake up whenever we want (or at least I do) and then pretty much enjoy whatever city we're in during the day. This makes for wonderful feelings of having days off when we actually don't have any days off at all. We're playing every night during this tour, I believe. Well, no wait; there are, I think, maybe a total of 4 nights in 5 weeks that we aren't playing. But thanks to Full Sail (way huge thanks to Full Sail) and the glorious bus they've tossed our way, we get to sleep after the gigs during night drives, then wake up with mega-time to spare before load in/sound check, making every day feel like a day off for at least for a couple of hours anyway.

Mike has already told you about the gigs we've played in a Keneally-nutshell sense, so let me see what gaps I can fill in with my own personal experiences so far.

I arrived in L.A. on Monday October 5th for 3 rehearsals, a day off, and a Steely Damned gig at SWR's anniversary party at S.I.R. The next morning, after taking a shower, I realized that I'd succumbed to that very special Motard Magic which had eluded me during those 5 lonely weeks between tours. Still damp from the shower, I went to my suitcase to retrieve clean clothing. Now, you know that feeling you get when you leave home for a vacation and you know you've forgotten something but you're not sure what it was? Well, it was at this moment, Tuesday morning, that I realized, painfully, what it was. Every single pair of underwear and socks that I own was in Minneapolis, about 1500 miles away, in the dresser drawer of my apartment; clean, neatly folded and utterly abandoned.

Thank golly for girlfriends. Michelle, who is Jason's gorgeous one, was willing to assist me in my dilemma by driving me to Costco to buy the necessary personal fabrics. Costco is this intimidatingly huge warehouse where they sell everything in bulk, so it seemed the logical place to shop for 5 weeks worth of personal necessities. Once inside and having scoped out the numerous options, Michelle is suddenly struck with the brilliant idea that "Hey! Isn't there someone at home who could mail you your socks and underwear?" Everybody, all together now: DOH! Indeed, there was, and she abruptly hands me her cell phone (thanks Michelle!). Her fantastic female wisdom could not have been timed better. Here I was about to drop 50 bucks, prolly more, on two dozen brand new pairs of underwear and socks to add to the other two dozen pairs I'd left at home giving me yet another excuse to procrastinate doing laundry (like I really need that! Doh).

So! I had my good friend Shan Lines (hi Shan!) mail me my socks and underwear via Priority Mail which arrived Saturday afternoon and cost him a total of 4 bucks for which I said I'd reimburse him but he told me "just mention me on the web page" and so here ya go, buddy. Thanks, Shan!!! You're the bestest buddy a motard dudeski like me could ask for, and I didn't even hafta. Thanks, my friend

Let me then tell you about the rehearsals BFD had while my socks and underwear were still missing (I promise you you'll never hear another word about my private garments ever again).

As Mikey has typed to you, they were spent pretty much entirely working on new material and, gosh - what can I say about this procedure? To watch Keneally write parts for the band on the spot and construct statistically dense arrangements for us to play right out of thin air was something...beyond words. I don't know what it would have been like to work with Miles or Frank, but being a part of this was as close as I ever could have dreamed of getting.

Watching the arrangements unfold and hearing these songs come together in rehearsal was just so totally exciting, especially working on this one section towards the end of "Taster" in which Mike and I do this "pyramid" type of thing with our notes echoing off each other in a steady linear progression that builds up over a couple of measures - just being there while this thing was coming to life was as equally as amazing as the result (you'll hafta hear it). And, what is just as cool is that the response from audiences to this new material has been overwhelming - even at sound checks. People really seem to latch onto this music and this, I must say, truly amazes me because, honestly, I always thought of this music as being too esoteric for the majority of listeners out there to grasp. But its become apparent to me that a lot of people who have never heard of us before are leaving our shows in slack-jawed amazement at what they've just heard - which tells me that not only is our music more accessible to more folks than I thought it was, there's also a cooler listening audience out there than I thought there was. There is a real buzz out there about this kind of music that continuously surprises me and confirms the validity of what we're pouring our hearts in to. All of this makes me feel more fantastic than I've ever felt in my life.

Even though we're not even done with our first week of the tour as I type this, there have been tons of great moments spent hanging out and talking as a group on the bus. On the last tour we would have had to use either meal time in Perkins's with slow waitresses (which seem to be everywhere) or CB radios in order to communicate the many thoughts we have to each other; but now we're together all the time - as a family should be. And the ideas fly like coasters towards ceiling fans.

What happens here is that we sit around like a group of kids at camp trading stories around the camp fire, but instead of marshmallows we have Triscuits and muenster cheese and a TV and VCR and a deck of cards with which endless games of Hearts can be played long into the wee hours and the laughs are positively endless. I have always lacked confidence in my ability to comprehend card games beyond the level of straight poker. But now, thanks to the seemingly infinite patience of Bryan Beller and Cami Slotkin, I have managed to grasp the concept of the "hearts" and am now an avid and committed enthusiast in the regiment of the game. This is better than camp, even if it still may seem like camp to Bob Tedde. You'd hafta ask him.

We once had a temporary bus driver (and a temporary bus) that got us from California to Colorado. The driver's name was Dale and he was from Nashville. There was also an assistant driver named Eric, from Phoenix, who never actually drove because he was in training and it wasn't advisable to risk our lives so that he might get his bus license or whatever it is.

Because the Full Sail bus (which we are now in) couldn't make it from Orlando to L.A. in time for our departure, and because Full Sail is so completely cool, they rented us this bus and these drivers for the first part of our journey.

BFD's collective response to our first tour bus was certainly one of tremendous satisfaction (especially from us smokers who were able to feed our ridiculously stupid habit at will unlike we are now - which only makes sense, I must confess),but it was nothing compared to what we'd be in store for in the future (which is now the present - follow me?) Dale was, he told me, when he wasn't driving a bus, also a pedal steel guitarist for Alan Jackson and had been playing with him since the outset of his career. He spoke in a southern accent that was barely audible above a whisper most of the time except for one gleaming moment in which we were driving through Las Vegas and a group of women in a convertible asked him if he knew where The Paradise was. His response was completely audible throughout the bus as he said "in here!".

The driver we have now, Jim, is a fantastically adept person to have around. I have dubbed he and Dennis Hill The Lazer Boys because they parade around with these little hand-held lazer pointers, pointing them at anything that catches their fancy or the lazers reflection. We learn to live with these kinds of high-tech habits.

OK then. As my mind wanders (or is it gaining new focus?) in the interest of form and content, I will give bold underlined headings to the following tales from the tour so that you may quickly get an overview and encapsulation of the information you are about to receive, K? Kewl.

Old Bus, New Bus and The Boy Who Cried "Bus"

It was in Denver, CO that we traded in our old bus and driver for new ones. We were all sitting around the motel room having finished sound check, waiting to see what would happen next. Mike was showing Jason and I some background harmonies for one of the new songs, "Backwards Deb", for which he'd written lyrics during hours of the day which none of us (even Nordegg) know exist.

Dan Phelps, our man from Full Sail (age 17 going on 32, I swear to golly) detected a noise that sounded familiar to him. He said very plainly "the bus is here", and I've never seen a room full of people empty so quickly (except maybe at the gig in Buttsmouth from the last tour). We all stopped what we were doing as if we'd never started and ran careening into the parking lot (we had only seen the snack-sausage sized picture of the bus on the web and were brimming with anticipation of viewing the actual life-sized contraption).

Turns out, it does, that the sound that Dan heard was not the bus but was in fact a large air conditioner atop of Quixote's True Blue Room next to the hotel. Hey, it actually did sound like the bus, but we wouldn't know this until later. So, as we sometimes do, we laughed loudly and tried to hide our disappointment as our anticipation had been piqued and we went back to what we were doing before the air conditioner.

It was not long after this that I walked out the door of the motel room and, out of the corner of my eye, spied a huge blue blur streaming down the street. Could this be the bus? I ran around the corner and stared dumbly down the street to see the rear end of a huge blue bus with a gleaming "Full Sail" logo attached to it speeding off into the distance. I rush back to the motel room and boisterously announce "the bus is here!". Seldom am I taken seriously in situations like these, and this was no exception. The idle skepticism and disbelief of the rooms occupants gave way to a slew of "guffaw's" and "pfft's" but I had to insist, "no, really! The bus is here!".

Scott, with arms waving wildly like a banshee, flags down the bus as it makes a U-turn and soon we are gasping in amazement at the sight before us. This vehicle glows. I've not ever seen such a beautiful huge blue thing in my whole entire life.

We are introduced to Denise Bolton, the Full Sail driver for the first couple of days who shows us the amenities that abound on this vehicle including the shelves and drawers which have been stocked to the rims with food and beverages and essentials the likes of which I don't even have in my own apartment, let alone on a touring vehicle (like I've ever traveled on one before - I haven't). At some point she says something like "we just want to be certain that you all are as comfortable as possible." Never before have actions and deeds spoken louder than words. Thank you, Full Sail. Beyond beyond.

The Mystical Wizardry and the Miraculous Majesty of the Dennis Hill/Thomas Nordegg Keyboard Repair Squad

On the last tour somewhere between the soundcheck at the Jethro Tull gig and the actual performance, one of the black keys on my T3 (the F# an octave above middle C, if you must know) broke. It wasn't until early into the first song that I discovered this and it was not a joy to discover. It would have been tolerable if the key simply didn't work but rather than have the universe go my way, the key actually stuck whenever it was struck. This was not a good thing, and to this day I still don't know what (or who) caused this damage to my keyboard but I made it through the blinding 20 minute set taking great pains to avoid the F# (not an easy task).

I had been no stranger to damaged personal gear on the last tour. My power amp blew up twice, my speaker blew up twice, and a rented speaker cabinet from SWR which was loaned to me also blew up twice. Am I forgetting anything twice? Probably.

Anyway, during the weeks off at home between tours I managed to buy a new power amp (a Mackie 1400i which completely rules and I hereby endorse it for absolutely free) and, during the same time, I got my broken F# fixed. Or at least I thought I did. I have this relatively reliable if not extremely affordable repair dude-friend who gives me speedy turnaround time on repairs and who'd completely disassembled the T3 in order to get at the keyboard mechanism and fix the key with some epoxy because he didn't have a replacement key, so this was the best he could do. Well, sorry Duane, and guess what folks, it wasn't best enough.

During the first show and first set in Denver, it was deja vu all over again. The key worked during sound check but now, as I strike the first note of "Voyage to Manhood" (yep, F# above middle C), it sticks. Grrr! I make it through the first set, again trying impossibly to avoid the note and even transposing the whole keyboard up an octave which only ended up causing more problems in songs like "Pencil Music" (as if that song isn't problematic enough for me already). I abruptly flag down Dr. Nordegg as soon as the set ends and expect that we'll just decide to open it up and look at it tomorrow, but no - Thomas has the answer. Can you guess what it might be? One word: Velcro.

To get me through the second set without having to avoid the F#, a piece of Velcro is attached to the key holding it in place and preventing it from sticking. And it works!!! The key needs to be struck at higher velocity in order to make it sound, but once it does, it pops back up and behaves like a law-abiding F# key should do. I am as amazed as you are, I'm sure.

Yet this was just the beginning of my amazement. Two days later in Muncie before the 2nd show of the tour, Dennis Hill and Thomas Nordegg proceed to take it upon themselves to get this broken key thing fixed for good, dammit. I watch in horror as my T3, my Korg, my baby, is taken apart and dissected into what seem like millions of pieces before my very eyes. I cannot watch more than half the time. I have to walk around the block or sit in the motel room shuddering like a nerve-wracked parent waiting for his child's tonsillitis operation to end. It was not easy.

The problem, after an hour of sorting screws and disassembling connectors and do-hinkey's, is diagnosed. There's a fulcrum type of thing at the rear base of the key itself which allows it to swing up and down when it's depressed. This fulcrum has broken, fallen off, disappeared, no where to be found. The only way to properly repair it is to either find a replacement key in Muncie, Indiana (good luck!) or to somehow rig up some kind of plastic attachment which could function as a fulcrum.

Well, of course, there's not a single F# above middle C to be found anywhere in Muncie. So what do Thomas and Dennis do? They devise an elaborate plot. (The following paragraph is to be read with a distinctively Austrian Nordegg-type accent:

"OK, we take a butane lighter to a Swiss army knife, yes? Yes, good. Then we cut off the short end of a, a, uh, a tooth brush! Yes, a tooth brush, that'll work perfectly. Then we'll sand down the blunt end of the plastic bit from the tooth brush and match it to the broken part of the key using micro surgery but, trust me, this will do the trick - have no fear. We then, yes, we then - we need a very small screw! Um, do you have a tape cassette? Yes? Excellent! Perfect. We use the screw from the corner of the tape cassette and - beautiful, this will work perfectly! We can now drill a micro-sized hole into the plastic bit and the key itself with my patented zirconium highly-portable hugely advanced Nordegg Micro Driller mechanism capable of telling time in 7 hemispheres including Schtad. Perfect. Beautiful. Now see? We can now attach the two plastic pieces to each other and tighten the screw, yes? Beautiful, oh, but there's a gap between these pieces which must be filled. This will not work. We need a rope. Some twine? No, wait! Do you have a guitar string? Yes, the high E, no, something stronger. Yes, the B string! Yes, stronger it is. It will work beautifully. You see? It is perfect."

Friends, this is not magic! With a lighter, a knife, a tiny screw from a cassette tape, and a guitar string, the notoriously broken F# above middle C was repaired and, to this very day, works as good as the original. Nordegg and Hill are from Mars.

The Alabama State Fair Meets The Good 'ol Beer For Dolphins Boys

The first thing I saw was the "Swine Pavilion". We were to play very near to it in the Road Kill Quonset (as Bob Tedde referred to it). Back in Minnesota, we have, of course, the Minnesota State Fair which contains many of the same things we saw here. Rides, games of skill (ya rite), horrible food costing way too much, and every ilk of mankind and family that would conceivably attend such a place. There was one thing here I had not seen before, though. A stable containing a cow with a sign on the fence reading "cow", and another stable containing a horse with a sign that read "horse". Perhaps Alambaman children need to be told such things? I really don't know why. <shrug>.

Anyway, prior to the soundcheck, Cami, Bryan and I went ride hunting. On the way, Bryan wasted more than a couple of dollars playing the "shoot the star" game, the horse race game (which Cami won and received a decrepit dolphin and an elephant for her efforts), the toss-the-ring-around-the-coke-bottle game, the shoot-the-basket game (in which Bryan was unable to successfully score even a single basket despite his Utah Jazz jersey - nice try, Bry), and the true game of chance of making it through the midway without losing your weeks per diem.

Soon we found the ride we wanted to go on: the gigantic Ferris wheel. Three dolphins in a gondola soaring high over the fairgrounds, seeing the beautiful blue bus in the distance, the city of Alabama on the horizon, and the huge stage upon which the Dixie Chicks were to play. This was a most joyful way to spend time pre-sound check.

Time was passing quickly but Cami and Bryan could not be averted from taking a spin in the water bumper cars. A huge pool filled with H2O containing about 12 innertubes with little 3 horse power motors attached to them, all swirling around in circles and smashing into groups of thrill-seeking children and folks on their day off. I didn't partake but wished I had after it was over. They obviously had fun on this ride and sustained only minimal wetness.

Then, the gig. Eek. The room (does an open-air cement floored barn with fold-up tables and chairs and a beer truck constitute a "room"?) reminded me of the hockey rinks I used to attend concerts in while in high school, given its acoustic qualities. Pretty horrible, it was. The only remotely redeeming thing about this gig was having several members of the Dixie Chicks band in attendance in the audience who were visibly moved by our performance, and the guy who gave us $37 dollars to play a Grateful Dead tune.

We got out of there, needless to say, quicker than a dixie chick. Oh, I forgot to mention the horrible sight of (gosh, should I even mention this?)....well, there was this pig pen containing a mother pig and about 7 cute little piglets. Now, do you know what the leading cause of piglet death is? Cami does and she told me in words that I could understand. Baby pigs, in the face of all other forms of death, are most likely to die from being sat on by their mother. Yes, it's really true. Well, we didn't actually see it happen, but in the pen where there once were 7 very cute and very alive little piglets, there were now 6. The 7th was flat on its side and no longer among the living swine. This was a sad moment for a dudeski like me to see, but Cami was quite used to it - she'd seen it all before. I'll let her tell you why that is if she wants to.

Oh! Geesh, I almost forgot to tell you about the fireworks! The last song of the 2nd and final set we played was the Cowlogy, and right after we launched into the guitar solo section of "Snow Cow", the Dixie Chicks concert across the way was concluding with a large and incredibly beautiful fireworks display. Mikey was so immersed in his soloing that he didn't even notice them until Beller pointed them out to him. Once Mike noticed 'em, he began doing dive bombs and fireworks imitations to go along with the display. This was really fun! Jason followed suit and mimicked the explosions with colorful displays of bombasticism and I provided my own musical fireworks imitations. The fireworks "climax" happened during the "Earth's foundation will shake" section and concluded about 5 seconds after we ended the song - a perfect wrap up to a surreal evening. Plus, I just totally love fireworks, they rule. I wish we could end all of our shows with 'em.

Ah, one more thing worth mentioning (as if anyone would wanna read this much in one sitting <pats on the back to those who have>) - the Cincinnati Clinic on Saturday, October 17th. This was a great clinic and a total blast to play. We played two of the new songs, "Pretty Enough for Girls/Taster", and they sounded great and went over as good as ever. Our good friend Matt Boyer, of the incredible Muncie-based band "Cootie Brown", requested that we play "TRANQUILLADO" and since Mike usually triggers the sounds from my keyboard for this tune, I relinquished my position to him and went over to a beautiful Roland VK-7 organ and played my parts from across the room. This keyboard sounded so awesome, I suggested that we play the "Dolphins" medley, and so we did. This too sounded so awesome, I can't wait to bring along my Korg BX-3 organ on the next tour for that authentic Hammond-type sound we all know and love so much. Hopefully I will also be bringing my Mini Moog along to be used with the amazing Mutron Bi-phase effects pedal which I just had to buy from Eric, one of the helpful store employees in Cincinnati. For those of you who might not know, the Mutron is a device from about 1975 which is very rare and creates a special type of effect that is distinctly '70's-ish and sounds particularly warm with old analog instruments of that era, like the Mini Moog. I'd never actually seen one before - only dreamed of some day owning one - and it was in positively mint condition. Even though it cost me nearly a weeks pay, it was well worth it. And hopefully you'll all be hearing these lush sounds emanating from my keyboard station on the next tour. Woo-hoo!

Well folks, we're approaching our gig in Atlanta now and I'm going to be thrown off the computer shortly. The tour so far has been amazing (as you must by now be fully aware). Wish I had more time to talk about Chicago and Muncie and the numerous cool friends I met and made in those cities, but the mere mentioning of it will hafta do for now. If you were there and we spoke, I want you to know how cool it was for me to meetcha. Stay in touch, willya please?! Keep it real. TTYS.

Marc Z.

Marc's Missive, Part Two

Before I began this missive (which was nearly 2 weeks ago - actually more like three and at this point I feel like I should tell you about what I've been up to since then because it's really quite fascinating but I'll wait and see if I type about it later), I wrote down a list of things I wanted to type about. Some of them received mention in the more recent member missives by Daniel and Jason (I haven't seen Cami's yet and don't know what's keeping her - Cami? You okay?), so, what remains from my list will be included in this missive with, probably, a bunch of other things that'll only occur to me while I'm writing this and subsequently won't be included in the following list - you'll just have to read the whole missive to find out what they are (how's THAT for suspense-inducing locution?). What order these things will appear in (and if they'll even be mentioned at all) remains to be seen, but, for those short on attention spans (is anyone even reading this?) and/or those looking for concise summaries, here's the summary of what follows:

  • Everything about Wyoming.
  • Bottom Line sound EFX madness in NYC.
  • The clinic in Omaha, NE.
  • Clairvoyance in Nebraska.
  • Falling in love in Cleveland.
  • The Magic of Madison.
  • Napalm Death, Cincinnati, OH
  • Stranded between Lincoln and Salt Lake City. - the stars!!!
  • Jason's unrelenting competitiveness in the pool tourney in Lexington, KY.
  • Matthew Gallaher
  • Ryan Kimmet in NY.
  • The "you're my best friend" guy in Durango, CO.
  • The "Word of Mouth" phenomenon in Denver, CO.
  • "Rasta Pasta" in Breckenridge, CO.
  • The porno shops in San Francisco, CA.

I'm *so* glad that that Daniel (Billy Bob) Phelps wrote about the things that he did in his most recent missive. Mine, here, would have ended up being really long if he hadn't. (smirk) Thanks, Danny! (smile)

Well, if I ever finish this, the above will serve as the Table of Contents for those interested in a quick reference to what follows. With the length of these missives I'm doing lately I want to be nothing if not efficient. Please capitalize on the efficiency and, by all means, skim at will and enjoy!

Why Wyoming?

Why not! It's Jason's original home state after all, and it became to us what Ohio was on the first tour - the ever-returning "oh my God, we're here again" state. By the end of this tour, we'd passed through Wyoming at least four times which included several stops for showers. Let me tell you that you really get to know a place after you've showered in it a couple of times, and a little familiarity goes a long way when you've been traveling for weeks on end through largely unfamiliar territory. So Wyoming actually became our Ohio on this leg, and a particular truck stop therein became our little oasis of familiarity in an otherwise highly transitory world.

There was, indeed, this one truck stop in particular that we wound up visiting twice in two days on the way to and from Salt Lake City (where it snowed heavily - hopefully a picture will end up on the main page during Christmas time). I wish I knew precisely where this truck stop was located, but I don't (betcha Bryan "Map Boy" Beller does, though. Go ahead and ask him if you're at all curious).

During each stop we would spend the customary 2 hours allotted for an entourage of 10 to shower, shave, make phone calls, spend a couple dollars on pinball and video racing games (Jason and Dennis became the most obsessive in this regard, but it was contagious by tour's end), and maybe find time for breakfast...or, hm, maybe even find a moment to scrawl some obscure Dadaist poetry on a bathroom wall. (What's that? Please read on.) [Gosh, I hope this won't get me in trouble] {actually, I hope that it does}.

As we were leaving this particular truck stop for the first time, Mike told us that the graffiti in the men's room had struck him as being so atypically boring that he'd decided to liven things up a bit (in his own inimitable way) with a little bit of spontaneous Keneally absurdity. It wasn't until the following day that I was able to view this Spontaneous Keneally Graffiti for myself. Mike was having breakfast when I approached him enthusiastically, sputtering, "Hey! Isn't THIS the place with the SPANIEL POETRY?" which seemed to frighten him, I guess, since he didn't want to get in trouble with the graffiti police who were surely lurking nearby and which Wyoming is FULL of, doncha know?

So he motions me closer to him and discreetly whispers, slightly conspiratorially, "third stall on the left, I think". I shudder while brimming with anticipation as I approach the stall and go in, pretending I've got bucket business to attend to, and am therein treated to something very closely resembling the following diatribe (Copyright Spen Graffiti, I suppose):

"Look! Spaniels! A glistening group of 14 spaniels! My feet hurt and I want to name them! Each and every one!!!".

This is then followed by 15 names (intentionally not 14, mind you), many closely resembling "Blair, Blairn, Blairt, Bob, Ted," with "Ted" being used at least three times throughout the list of names, non-consecutively. The mysteriously whimsical graffiti then concludes with these provocative thoughts:

"Drat! That's 15! Too many names! Damn! Too many names! I thank you for your time." In homage, I suppose, to the man who'd just lost the election in New York the day before, the stanza is then signed, appropriately, "Al D'Amato".

What sorts of responses this prose may have elicited from way-faring truckers since then I can only imagine, but I'm certain that SOMEONE will be offended and offer a hearty remark. Me, I can't wait to go back and see what the reaction might be. I letcha know what I find.

I am now suddenly moved by this recollection to offer you some...

Observations on Bathroom Graffiti Across America

(I won't dwell on this for too long, I promise).

It is amazing (or maybe it isn't, but, anyway, I, for one, am amazed) at the kinds of things that guys will write on bathroom walls in this country. Has anyone ever documented this? Too late!

Particularly in the South but, specifically, in Missouri and Alabama, I was privy to read things which even the Drill Sergeant in "Full Metal Jacket" could not have dreamed up. Most of them I wouldn't think of adding to this web site, but there's one slab of importance which I remember liking a lot that had been altered by someone with a little more imagination than the original scribbler.

The original scrawling was the obligatory men's bathroom phrase "all fags must die". (Gotta have it, no matter where you go). Well, someone with more conviction than I had decided to cross out the "d" in "die" and add the word "up", thus replacing it with the words "rise up", hence "all fags must rise up". This amused me to the extreme. What this guy meant by "rise up" later occurred to me as being perhaps somewhat questionable considering its location, but I ultimately found it to be an entertaining chunk of colloquial wisdom regardless of my previous speculations and the graffiti's geological location. I'd adjusted by this point.

Near this charming epithet was also written "if you don't like Hank Williams Jr, kiss my ass." This, too, later, struck me as somewhat questionable in its intent, but I didn't lose much sleep over it, I assure you. Hopefully you won't either. Hopefully we've all adjusted by now.

I will say this, though! I long for the day in which guys (and gals, for that matter) no longer feel like they have to resort to soliciting sex via bathroom walls. I've honestly read quite too much of it, in too many locations, and I even asked Cami on the first tour if she had ever seen lesbian scribblings seeking bathroom gratification in said locations, and she said that, indeed, once in a while, she had run across some. This both amazes and perplexes me. I sure hope that K.D. Lang can restrain herself from following George Michael's example. God knows I do. Or, at least I try.

Bryan's Friend with the Iron Skillet, 11/4/98

Much like the last tour, we find ourselves (here) back in Wyoming at the truck stop that serves you the "guaranteed iron skillet" breakfasts (the same place we now call home to the Spaniel Poetry).

I order a genuine iron skilleted breakfast and happen to overhear this guy talking to Bryan about how he had, at some point or points in his life, spent some time in prison (I don't know what for but, hm, I'll not guess) and how he had gained great skill and/or notoriety for being able to punch people in the face and "knock 'em out cold". Oh what joyful breakfast-time conversation I'd dropped in on, with iron skillets nearby, no less. (I totally sat this one out while the guy was making friends with Bryan - me, I'm just here for the iron skillet breakfast...not the iron sausage).

At some point, Bryan obliges the guy in conversation by telling him that he's in a band based out of California, and our new truck-stop buddy goes, "California? Hey, tell me this! How come it's okay for two guys in San Francisco to walk down the street holding hands with each other but I can't go into a bar and smoke a cigarette if I want to, huh? Why is THAT!? THAT ain't right!!!".

Boy am I glad he's not talking to me. I probably woulda said something really intelligent like, "Hm, gosh. Uh, I dunno!". So I leave it to Bryan to say exactly the right thing.

"Well," says BB, "I'll tellya what. We're about to get into a deeply philosophical discussion here and it's probably best that we drop it before it starts."

Bry-yan! Bry-yan! Bry-yan! Man do I love this guy a lot? Yes I do. Don't you too? Bryan Beller rules all.

Our new neolithic comrade probably expanded on his views a bit following that but I was so impressed with Beller that I don't remember anything else that the guy said. Oh, except that after Beller left, the guy asked me what instrument I played in the band and I told him "keyboards". Fortunately, my iron skillet was empty at that point so I was able to quickly leave a tip and take off towards the arcade.

It turns out, Bryan would later tell me, that the guy (and you couldn't tell this while he was sitting down, but), he was about six-foot-seven and maybe two-hundred and thirty pounds. Sure am glad, I am, that I was able to escape further conversation with the hulk when I did...which wouldn't be for long...

Not far into my first pinball game in the arcade, I hear a voice behind me saying," So! Keyboards, huh?" It's Bryan's new friend! And now he's trying to become MINE! Eek. (gulp) So I say "yah" and try to concentrate on the "Elvira" game which I'm presently in love with so much.

The Cro-Magnon man says to me, "that's what my favorite musician in the whole world plays!" Hm. Liberace, I thought? Naw. Howard Jones? Couldn't be. So I say, "who's that???"

He says, "only the FINEST man to EVER tickle the ivories on the PLANET! You know who I'm talkin' about?!" My mind is reeling with the possibilities. Jerry Lee Lewis? Billy Joel? Um, Jean Claude Van Damme? Fuck. Rather than offer a guess, I just say, again, "Ah! Who's THAT!?".

He pauses and then says the last two words I ever would have guessed:

"Elton John".

DOH!!!!! I'm thinking, great. Either he's serious or he's trying to see if I've noticed his hypocrisy yet and if I'll speak with a lisp or not, so I say, "AHH! Yah, I grew up listening to him and he's definitely one of my favorites!".

My new buddy says something like "so would YOU ever wanna go toe to toe with Elton John?" Toe to toe, maybe not, but digit to digit? "Sure!", I say. "But he's THE BEST piano player in the WORLD!," says this guy with the keenest ear for musical talent known to man since the neolithic era.

"I'd welcome the challenge," I say as my third ball drains and I leave the room with a "well, nice talkin' with ya!" without waiting to see if the pinball machine matched or not. Pheew. As I leave, "Vent" is roaring through my mind like a freight train. And you know the words.

Admission to the Use of Inappropriate Sound Effects at Inappropriate Times at The Bottom Line, NYC, 10/26/98

As if you didn't know or couldn't guess from Mike's missive, IT WAS ME!!! (waving hands like a freaking maniac) I'm happy to be able to confess to you here that it was I whom Mike mentioned in his missive regarding the insertion of said sound effects during "I'm So Tired" at The Bottom Line.

This admission causes me, briefly, to flash back to the days of the third show of Zappa's Universe in NYC (same city - coincidence? - maybe not) in which my sound effects were WAY too loud in the onstage monitors and Scott Thunes (I love you Scott!) felt it deservedly appropriate enough to interject "Marc Ziegenhagen! Ladies and gentleman! Marc, take a BOW!", during Jesus Thinks You're a Jerk.

Will I never learn? Well, in the case of the Ritz, I was just doing my job (although I dearly paid the price later in the song) and the monitor mixer simply had the mixes backwards, God bless him.

But at the Bottom Line, I was, I admit, (without attorneys present), I was completely derelict in my duties to have anything even remotely close to a clue about what was appropriate, and what was utterly not, during this song. I absolutely didn't have either.

This was, you see, Bob Tedde's last show with us before the final date of the tour in San Fran, and, Bob being at least as equally in love with the Beatles as Mike is, well, this was intended to be a 'tender moment'. But, because the set was cut short (as if it wasn't short enough already; 45 minutes? - geesh), and that I (and others, I'd later discover) felt the set wasn't vibing very well within the band, I decided to make light of what was the last song of the first set, this destroyed any tenderness seeking possibilities seeking to be attained during this set.

What'd I do that was so inappropriate? I thought you might want to know. During the first break in the song after "Give you everything I've got for a little piece of mind", I thought to myself, "Sure, I'll do this! It'll be funny! This is the right thing to do now! Yah! They'll LOVE IT". They, the audience, seemed to. But Mike? I wasn't sure I'd done the best thing when I struck my telephone-ringing patch during the break. Brrr-ring! Hm...

HAH HAH. People laughed...except for Mike. I thought, at this point, oops! Maybe that wasn't such a good idea. But, because I can be such an idiot on occasions (and pride myself on being such), during the next verse after, "I think I'll have another cigarette", I coughed. Again, much laughter, though none from the stage and, at this moment, I realized that I'd done wrong. Way wrong.

So after we'd all walked off stage, I go up to Mike and say, "was I completely out of line on 'I'm So Tired"?, fearing the worst. MK affirms my suspicions and says, "Yes! That song is NOT A JOKE!"

So I apologized and that's the last I heard about it although I probably brought it up at least once more before the end of the tour as a way of admitting fault and seeking further reprimand (sometimes I deserve it, ok?). I'm still learning, I am.

Addendum: Here's something funny, though. In listening to the Madison recording of our first show there on the first tour (8/8/98), I found a hilarious moment wherein Mike, during "I'm So Tired", instead of saying "another cigarette", he decides to say, "I'll have another bong hit." Heh! I guess there have been joking moments, and there have not been. I love you, Mikey.

Psychic Premonition Manifesting in Reality En route to Omaha, NE, 11/3/98

I woke up on the bus not knowing where we were or what time it was. I waltzed into the showers of the truck stop we were parked in front of and cleansed my body of the road scuffage which needed to be washed away. After the shower, I watched a bit of "G.I. Jane" on the big-screen TV they had setup in the truckers lounge. Demi Moore looks good with a shaved cranium, I now know.

When it became time to partrude, I was asked if I'd like to drive the mini van - Mike's mini van. (In case you didn't know, and I can't recall if anyone's mentioned this in detail thus far [and I'm regretful if anyone has and I am forgetting about it], but, in addition to the Full Sail bus, we brought along Mike's mini van [minus the drivers seat] with which we hauled equipment and the gigantic luggage "egg" we'd purchased somewhere in Colorado during the first date of the tour).

Anyway, so I said "yah, I'll drive". I did so little driving on this tour, I almost feel like I owe double duty on the next one. Anyone who wishes can hold me to this feeling of obligation the next time and I'll happily oblige. Any-anyway, once situated within the mini van and maintaining air-speed velocity, a thought occurs to me; a strange thought that seems to lack more than just my normal sense of paranoia. "What if I get a flat tire?"

And then! BOOM! All of a sudden...well, no. Let's not over-dramatize this. I'm driving along, listening to a recording of our last show in Cincinnati, and the van is weaving slightly as I clutch the steering wheel. It was a windy day that day and so I figured that it must just be the wind, but it wasn't cuz the next thing I know, a car driving along side me accelerates to pull up near my passenger window and makes some kind of motion towards my back tire. The specific motion of the driver does not click with me and I'm not sure what he's talking about until, BOOM - all of a sudden - BOOM - control of the car is not even as difficult as it was for the last four miles - it's much worse, and I've got a flat.

I get on the radio and tell Jim that I've blown a tire and I gotta pull over. He pulls over not a quarter mile ahead of me and proceeds to back up on the interstate highway somewhere in the middle of Nebraska towards the disabled mini van. (That's why Jim gets the big bucks, folks).

Soon, Nordegg, with gloves on hand, and Bryan, are taking it upon themselves to change the tire while I stand by, watching, and remembering my pre-blow-out thought or getting a flat. I know that I'm only a practicing clairvoyant, so I'm not worried that my thoughts only happen to be manifesting themselves in the physical world, but the whole thing did strike me as mildly peculiar. It was probably just fate. Or perhaps destiny. Or is there a difference? Maybe we're about to get into a deeply philosophical discussion here and it's probably best that we drop it before it starts.

Soon, the tire is replaced and we're back on the road, with me continuing to drive the mini van. Now, I'm not one that believes in psychic premonitions, I swear. But what followed during the gig that afternoon made me truly wonder.

Psychic Premonition Manifesting in Reality at the Gig in Lincoln, NE

Oh, perhaps first, I should talk about the clinic in Omaha. Yah, lemme do that and, please, ignore the above heading. It means nothing, for now. Thanks.

The Magical Clinic (# 5) in Omaha, NE (11/3/98)

We arrive at "Rainbow Music" with the mini van hobbling along (it really wasn't that bad) with a spare tire. Soon, Jim volunteers to take it to a local shop and get the tire replaced while we perform the obligatory clinic. Most of us, incognizant of the Jim Factor, pile in to the music store and check out our surroundings. There is a room full of vintage gear which most of us scope out and, what is playing on the VCR near by? Zappa's Universe. I'd not seen the video in ages and it strikes me as particularly peculiar, especially considering that I'm viewing it in a remote music store (with rainbow flags attached to it, oddly enough) in Lincoln, Nebraska. Very odd.

We soon assemble in the room where we will be doing our clinic. It is a room which doubles as a recording studio for bands (indeed, the store doubles as a recording studio). There is, to my left, and to my amazement, a seven-foot baby grand piano. There is also a keyboard setup in the "stage" area which is running through a P.A. and Mike begins playing upon it. I sit down at the grand piano and begin playing along with what he's doing.

Soon thereafter, Mike informs me that what we're playing together is actually a new song that he's writing. He describes it as a "Who"-sort of song and shows me and Bryan the parts and we play through it a couple of times and I soon realize that this tune IS REALLY FUN TO PLAY, and here we are rehearsing this new material in the middle of Nebraska. Expect the unexpected, I guess. The completely unexpected.

Jason then enters the room and I relinquish the piano bench to him as he is, you must know, an equally adept pianist as he is a drummist. I go over and begin adding fake-Oberheim string accompaniment to what he's playing along with Mike (who's improvising on guitar now).

The music is evolving and growing nicely as we proceed to explore this newly found musical landscape (that may sound pretentious, but it felt exactly that way to me at the time). I have yet to hear the tape, but damn - this was a very cool moment. The improv lasts about 5 minutes and when it's over, everyone seems really pleased with what had just happened. We're truly meant to be playing music together, and it we are. Everything just felt right. Really right.

The clinic ends up being a blast - a total blast. The vibe is good and I get to play the grand piano during "Cardboard Dog" and "Inca Roads". We may have also done "Drum Running", but I haven't gotten a tape as of this writing, so I don't remember. But I kinda think that we did. Anyway, this was my favorite clinic aside from the one I didn't play in which was at 15 North in Philadelphia, PA, (clinic #3) Mike types to you about this one in his missive.

I met many more than several really nice people after this clinic and if YOU are one of them, please e-mail me! Not just because it'd be cool to hear from you but also because one of you was involved in the next...

Psychic Premonition Manifesting in Reality at the Gig in Lincoln, NE., 11/3/98

This one will be short, and I mean it. It took me long enough just to say "I thought I'd get a flat tire, and I got one" above. This'll be short. (Promises, promises! Geesh).

A really decent fellow named Nick attended the above clinic and it was great fun to talk with him after it was over. He said that he wanted to go to Omaha and see the show there that night but wasn't sure if he and his girlfriend could get in because he was only a mere 20 years old. I told him I'd put him on the guest list if it wasn't an 18+ show and hoped that'd do the trick. Well, the show was indeed an 18+ show and he had no problem getting in. He showed up with SEVERAL women so I'm not sure what ever became of his girlfriend.

Anyway, we spent some more time talking after sound check had ended (and after nearly all males in the entourage including yours truly had visited the swanky porno shop next to the club which had a fifty-cent entrance fee...yah, we got our fifty-cents worth, I suppose. Sure we did.), and Nick was upstairs (upstairs at Nick's?) with us during the big pool game before the show. In short, I felt like I'd made a new friend in Nebraska with this guy. Very cool dude.

Well, when it came time for us to start the show, and we were lacking a guest host. We never had one in the first place, but we needed someone to introduce the band. I chose Nick and asked him to come up on stage and introduce us. He did and, well, we've had better introductions but we can't ask for much when we just pull someone out of the audience and ask them to introduce us, can we? Nope. So, given all of this, Nick did a fine job given the last-minute-ness of it all.

When it came time for "Pencil Music" and the whole explanation about putting your name in the BUCKET to register to win the evenings Full Sail/MK/BFD T-shirt, I saw Nick go over to Cami's station to register. I thought about our day together and everything that had happened since and the thought did then occur to me: "wouldn't it be cool if Nick won the T-shirt?" Again, a simple thought, a simple occurrence, and that was all it was. But, of course, it turned out to be more than just that. (shudder)

Nick ended up winning the T-shirt. My jaw nearly hits the floor when it happens Twice in one day, I remember, the infinite variables involved have come together and a simple thought has become real. Kinda weird, kinda spooky, but/and very very cool. I hope it stops, though. It's becoming a bit freaky.

We had to shorten our set that night from what was originally planned and penned on the back of the T-shirt due to what Mike thought was a problem with his Battle star Galactica guitar tuner, but the culprit wound up being merely his whammy pedal. Now we know! Now we know that if your whammy pedal isn't in it's fully upright and locked position, you WILL BE OUT OF TUNE. Oh yes, now we know. So I had the set list on the back of the T-shirt autographed by Mike who added an asterisk to the songs we didn't end up playing and who also penciled in the songs we ended up playing which weren't on the list, thereby making this T-shirt a golden prized commodity. Congratulations, Nick.

Falling in Love in Cleveland, 11/1/98

I completely fell in love in Cleveland. You know who you are. I hope. 'Nuff said.

The Magic and the Majesty of the Madison Show, 11/2/98

A little distance does one good. At the time of this show (actually, after it was over), I knew it was fun but I didn't know how many magical moments had truly gone down. Playing in BFD is, for me, a funny thing because so many magical things can and do occur each night and, at times, they can escape my cognizance due to the fact that I'm on stage performing and, subsequently, a bit too close to the action to remember all of it once the night is over (or even, at times, to be fully aware of it while it's happening - like in NYC at the Bottom Line). (ahem) Anyway.

But I listened to the mini disc recording of the show in Madison the night that I was compiling the above list of things to write about in this missive, and so many things struck me as being utterly worth typing about, I thought I'd mention a few. (If you were there, you know, but either way, here's a detailed account of the kinds of things that probably happen every night with this band but, somehow, they're always one-time-only events).

First there was the sound check. This is always a treat when we have some time to mess around. The soundman (who's name I forget but he did a miraculous job as my mini disc will attest to) was still hooking up microphones when we lapsed into, for no real reason, "Haitian Divorce" by Steely Dan. A faithful rendition, minus vocals (with Mike playing the melody on guitar) which we had never actually played together before. We'd only played it, at various times and locations, with The Steely Damned. This was a lot of fun to do - I just wish I'd put a Count Basie ending on it as that is what struck me as appropriate only upon hearing it back here in my apartment about 4 hours north of Madison, 4 weeks later, about an hour ago.

Next, Mike started playing "Fool in the Rain" on guitar which I occasionally play (on piano, duh!) during my level check. Before you know it, we're playing the tune and I'm risking life and limb attempting to sing the vocal part. I love to sing, and I love to sing this song but, dammit, I just cannot do either and sound anything close to my idol, Taylor Hanson. Still. This is another moment of great fun. (HI TAYLOR, if you're reading this). (smile)

The last cover tune to be played, unexpectedly, during sound check is "Carry on my Wayward Son" which Mike keeps instructing the band to cease playing but, somehow, we can't resist the urge to do so having grown up with this silly music, and we end up playing more of it than anybody would ever want to hear, but we're so audacious. We can't help it.

Actually, prior to playing these tunes, we lapsed into a semi-faux-reggae version of "Pretty Enough for Girls" which, to all of our bemusement, was completely to our bemusement. To me, its incredibly cool when we can feel so comfortable with new material like this that we're able to bastardize it and still play it accurately. This was way cool.

Equally as cool is my good friend of many years, Tim Malchow, who ended up singing "Spearmint Pup" during the first set. Mike had a frog the size of Long Island in his throat when he began this song and asked tape traders to edit his foiled attempts at singing it from the recordings (but I hope that no one does, cuz...). After two attempts, he was ready to ditch the whole tune and move into the next one but then, thankfully, felt compelled to ask the audience, "Is there anyone out there who wants to sing this song?"

It was then that my good friend Tim who'd driven (or is it drove?) all the way from Minneapolis just to see this show only to have to drive (or is it splang?) all the way back up to the cities that evening to teach a German class the next morning, um, yes - he faithfully obliged the request to sing "Spearmint Pup" and did a magnificent job singing what is probably one of the most difficult songs to sing in the Keneally repertoire that I can think of. I challenge you to do better. Good job, Tim!

We ended the set (as we often do when there's more than one) with "Pencil Music". First, I have to acknowledge the right-on-ness of the light person during the "BUCKET" section. The guy was RIGHT THERE when Mike would say the word "bucket" at every hit. How he did this perplexes me to this very day. Hats off to you, whoever you are/is/were.

Then! At the end of the tune, during the crazy ascending keyboard line which is always so challenging for me to play when Jason is going "Doon-cha doon-cha doon-cha" like some freaked out reject from the Sex Pistols, Mike ad libs some rarely heard words which I didn't catch at the time, but which I now know and love and will forever remember to be:

"Don't you like Bryan's new bass? Don't you like Bryan Beller's bass?"

These new words fit perfectly, as did Bryan's new bass, and I love you both, I do.

As we were beginning the second and final set (it may have been John Willcoxon, but I'm not sure and this pisses me off), SOMEONE requested that Mike play a Todd Rundgren song....it may have been for someone's anniversary...I'm confused about this and apologize forthrightly to all parties concerned for even mentioning this at all.

The song was "The Wailing Wall", and Mike had played it only a couple of times on the last tour. This particular evening in Madison, while the line "their hearts would break" was being sung, someone dropped a glass on the floor which shattered with great impact and in perfect time between the words "hearts" and "break", and Mike acknowledges this with an appropriate gesture. Yet another example of the perfect symmetry that accompanies the spontaneous occurrences when this band is on stage. I, for one, am consistently amazed. And lacking sugar.

Then came the middle section of "Uglytown"; always a treat, especially in Madison. We attempted yet another audience improv section in which various members of the folks in attendance would sing us a melodic phrase and we, via Mike's instruction, would incorporate it into a spontaneous composition. This night was really something to behold. The last time we'd played there was grand enough, but this time, gosh! I hate using exclamation points too often, but, GOSH!!!

The highlight of the moment was when Mike beckoned forward the presence of Xena the Warrior Princes, a woman who he and Bryan apparently knew was in attendance but I, being who I am and where I'm from, had absolutely no clue whatsoever.

We needed a "chorus" for the improv section and this woman knew, instinctively (I guess) exactly what to sing. She offered us something that sounded like something between an orgasm and an upchuck. This became our "chorus" and it was utilized masterfully by all members of the band and even wound up being incorporated into sections of the post-interlude out-tro of the song. Huge (high fivers) to Ms. Xena.

Lastly, there was "Inca Roads", always containing a plethora of spontaneous moments. The first was during the vocal breaks which I often spend the entire day mulling over in preparation for that evenings performance. This particular night, the words came to me quite easily. We'd been on the bus hanging out before the show and Jason had told us a story about how he'd gotten into a semi-altercation somewhere with a guy in a bar who, in attempts to shut him up, had said to him "Shut up, pink pants!". Jason does wear, as you must know by this point, pink pants once in a while and this comment revolved solely around this particular pair. We all found this highly amusing and so, during the break in "Inca", I knew I'd use this as an appropriate reference.

There are, however, three breaks during this section. And I sometimes rely on things to happen during the set which could influence what I'll say during these moments. This was one of those moments. Cami - the gorgeous Cami Slotkin - had come on stage to sing "Strange Impulse" and was still there when we charged into "Inca". So I motioned her over and instructed to her an idea which had come to me at that moment which was to sing, during the first break "Oh Mikey, you're so fine! You're so fine you blow my mind! Hey Mikey! Hey Mikey!". This chaos ended up working out remarkably well and so thank you Cami, I love you!!!!

"We Are Napalm Death", Cincinnati, OH, 10/17/98

At the end of the show at Ripley's in Cincinnati, the audience response was so good that we simply didn't know what to perform as an encore since we were still on stage and had, seemingly, exhausted all possibilities. I suggested "Dhen Tin" and we played it. The ending of the tune morphed into a sinister fermatta with lots of tri-tones which yielded the following show-encapsulation delivered by a very sinister-sounding Keneally:

"Cincinnati, we love you! We are Napalm Death! That's "Demon Seed" on keyboards! "Horrifying Cock" on drums! "Explosive Unkindness" on the bass! My name is "Scary Confusing Person that you Meet in an Alley"! Thank you for listening and good niiiiight!!!

This kept us laughing for days and days and days until the exorcism at which point things went back to normal. Thank you, Father Ripley.

Stranded between Omaha & Lincoln, NE, and the Cosmos

After the gig in Omaha (I realize this missive is COMPLETELY out of whack chronologically), we had a whole day in which to get to Salt Lake City. On the way, we encountered a snow/slash/ice storm which rendered our vehicles immobile and we had to pull over onto the side of the road and wait out the storm.

Bored out of my fucking skull, and because everyone else in the bus was watching some movie on the VCR that I'd seen before, I decide to bear the frigid temperatures and stand outside of the bus for a moment.

THE STARS were amazing! They looked like this: ** **** * * ** **** I have not seen such heavenly displays of galactic perspective since I was but a wee young child up in the North woods of Minnesota and gazing up at the night sky. You folks who live out there on the planes must know what I'm talking about cuz you see it all the time - being far removed from any industrial coagulations that might otherwise clog up your view - but, damn. You know what I mean?

This was amazing, seeing the Milky Way in all its glory, somewhere out on the planes of Nebraska (or wherever we were - I really have no idea). Wow. It looked, again I tell you, like this: **** * * * **** * * * * * * ******. Isn't that COOL?!?!

Motard Plays Pool and Takes No Prisoners (Lexington, KY, 10/31/98)

If you've read Bryan's Member Missive from this tour, you know about the knock down/drag out pool tourney which commenced in Kentucky. I feel like it's only fair (and only fucking due) that I tell you about how Jason beat me in the tournament because he and I had hit it off from the moment we met at the beginning of the tour and become life-long friends for many various reasons (none of them having to do with skin flutes contrary to popular suspicion) but, during this tourney, Jason became a competitive over-zealot and a real, um....fill in the blank.

He and I were playing against each other and he'd lost something like 3 games out of 3 at this point, so I can understand his aggressive edge (Jason, you rock, you fucking motard, you). But what happened between he and I during this tournament, even though it may or may not have decided the outcome of the game, completely destroyed me.

He'd scratched and the ball was in my proverbial court. I position the cue ball behind the line, as expected, and take aim at a particular ball - not knowing that the ball I'm shooting at is actually one of HIS. I'm solid's, he's stripe's. I prefer stripe's, as does he, but this doesn't matter. I'm aiming towards the wrong ball and, yah, it's my own fault for getting all distracted and shit but what does Jason do about it? Nothing at all! He let's me take aim at his striped treasure and I sink it deftly. DOH!

"Nice shot", he says as I realize, from the tone of his motard voice what I've mistakenly done. "Sorry, Frick. We're adversaries in this game", he says as I realize the error in my ways and relinquish the shot to him. I end up losing because of this shot, although this is just my opinion. If you were there...well, it's all in the past now. But. It's my observation that Jason was certainly seeking revenge during this play (even though I hadn't even played him yet) and did play a ferocious game. Still. I wanted to mention this moment because it was the pinnacle of the competitive edge that exists between Jason and I which sustains us and, ultimately, only adds to the bond which exists between us. Jason, I fucking love you, you motard. you. Even though you suck. (grin)

First Time Reunion for MZ, 10 years in the Making, in Seattle, 11/11/98

Back in the day (circa 1988) in which the seeds of this very germination between myself and Keneally were being planted, I met a fellow named Matthew Gallaher. I lived in Boston at the time and he was in residence in Portland. We took up correspondence because of "Society Pages", the now seemingly defunct newsletter which was such an integral part of my connection to the Zappa universe while I was at college with Joey Travers and Bryan Beller in Boston.

Matt and I soon took up a correspondence which continued throughout the many years since. Together we discovered a long-distance friendship which was completely unique to me during my stay in Boston and soon, we were trading Zappa transcriptions with each other and conversing for hours on end via fiber optic and satellite-based communications systems.

I finally got to meet Matt Gallaher in Seattle and this was one of the highlights of the tour for me. To come face to face with a voice that I'd recognized over the many years of discussion but was never able to put a set of eyes to was extraordinarily fulfilling and completely revitalizing.

Matt and I had spoken previously, for hours on end, about the most in-depth aspects of Frank's music. We'd gone over charts virtually bar-by-bar and dissected segments to the nano. We had traded transcriptions each of us had done of Zappa's music through the mail, yet we'd never met. This night, in Seattle, we did. And this meeting evolved into an elongated, protruded series of moments to never be forgotten from the moment of our meeting at the hotel where our bus was parked to the moment of our departure from the club in downtown Seattle. Thanks, Matt. You're one of a kind.

Meeting Ryan Kimmit in Albany, NY, 10/27/98

Ryan Kimmet! Ryan Kimmet! (hopefully this'll show up on a search engine if you search for "Ryan Kimmet"). Ryan Kimmet and Chocolate Johnson. Finally I met this guy. "Chocolate Johnson" is his band and I swear to God I had NOTHING to do with the name (as a matter of fact I never got an answer [are you listening, Kimmet?] as to what it actually pertains to following my inquiry). But anyway, you of all must know this guy by now via his posts in alt.music.music-keneally. He had discovered my transcription of the Crosby, Stills & Nash tune I'd done for Guitar World back in 1991 and he posted an article subjected: "Marc Z on guitar?".

I only found this posting due to what, I gather, is called a "vanity search" and just had to write him back in order to clear up the query. Ryan ended up being our guest host in Albany and, although the show was remotely attended, he can hardly be held at fault because this was one of the best shows of the last tour and hell, if you missed it, you missed it.

To finally be able to meet this guy and hang out with his personage was beyond delight for yours truly. Massive-sized hats off to Mr. Kimmet for all of his dedication and non-reluctance in bestowing howdies upon me contrary to my previous speculations about the name of his band. If you yourself happen to have any, please forward them to rkimmet@wopr.skidmore.edu and tell him that Marc Z sent you.

The "You're My Best Friend" Dude in Durango, CO, Several Shows

I'm not going to say much about this guy (mostly because I feel horrible that I don't remember his real name). I will say, though, that there is plenty to be said about him. We all hope to see you again, whoever you are, dude. And happy showers. (smile) Maybe I'll join you. (grin). Nah. Thanks.

"Word of Mouth" in Denver (Aurora), CO, 11/6/98 and Elsewhere

A perhaps all-too-brief mentioning is worth mentioning of our second show in Aurora, CO of this last tour because of, among other things, the fact that SO MANY PEOPLE were in attendance and this was, largely, because of the fact that word had spread about our previous show there (the first show of the tour on October 13th), and that this was one of the best shows of the tour because of this reality.

If word about BFD can continue to spread with the relentlessness with which it spread in the Denver area on this last tour, we should do very well there (and elsewhere) in the future indeed. Thanks tons to all the folks who saw this particular show (especially to Christian Fattoruso and Richard Pineo who'd driven [or is it drove?] all the way up from Texas to see us). This was an amazing show and all who were there deserve much thanks. Much thanks!!!

"Rasta Pasta" in Breckenridge, CO, 11/8/98

This might be a good time (as I've been reluctant to tell you so far) about what I've been up to since the end of WNHTH 2.0 since I think that I can directly segue it into a moment of talk about "Rasta Pasta" in Breckenridge, CO which was on my original list and I'm trying, desperately, to adhere to it and get this whole thing over with.

Prior to the start of the first BFD tour in mid July of this year (was it REALLY that long ago? I guess so), I was playing with some band or another virtually every night of the week here in Minneapolis, MN. I had regular gigs on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays and the Friday/Saturday gigs were being filled regularly which left only Thursdays and Sundays which, unbelievably enough, became securely filled on an almost week-to-week basis. During weeks in which one or the other was not booked, I had a day off, but this only happened infrequently.

Since returning from my second tour with BFD (and if you've read my latest addition to "Meat BFD", you might be wondering), every single gig I had has completely disappeared and I've been lucky to score whatever might come my way. Not that this wasn't the case before, it kind of always has been, but at the time of this writing the need to obtain work has been greater than ever before. Especially prior to my leaving town for what essentially amounted to about 4 months.

Upon my return to Minneapolis (a little after midnight on Sunday, November 15th), I took advantage of an opportunity which had long since been afforded to me to sit in with a local band called "Wallace Hartley & The Titanics" (a 9 piece band who play mostly original music and otherwise lots of really cool and semi-obscure covers), and I took it because they absolutely rock the house.

This first night that I was officially "in town", then, I played with them and met a fellow who knew a guy named Wain McFarlain who plays all kinds of music nowadays but who specializes in, mostly, Reggae

I ended up doing a gig with him the following Thursday in town during a local jam-type session that he does regularity (but does no longer, as of this writing, because the club has been turned into some kind of corporate office) and then later that week, on Saturday, doing a reggae gig with him in Chicago. I could go on for pages and pages about this (as if I'm not, already. Sorry).

Hence and thusly, Rasta Pasta. He'd eaten there before, as our entire entourage had done while in Breckenridge, while on the road with the reggae band Ipso Facto, and they had actually played at the very club at which we appeared that evening which is called the "Alligator Lounge". This was a trip to discover for many reasons. I'll not belabor you with them at this juncture, but you can imagine. Can't you?

To be lucky enough to score semi-decent work while coming off the road (and, Wain, I thank you tons for this) only to discover that all my previous contacts had left me in the dirt and only later to discover that this guy who'd saved me had not only known of the location of the places in which we'd played AND eaten on the last tour but had also actually PLAYED these places, well, this was most cool. Too cool. This was way cool.

And Rasta Pasta completely rocked, by the way (I realize that my transition may have been a bit foggy - forgive me). But! If you're ever in Breckenridge, CO, stop on in and say hello to the staff from virtually any band you can think of, including BFD. We've all played there, it seems. And they rock. Big time.

San Francisco Porno Shops and Whatnot

I realize I'm running long here. Bryan thought that my last Member Missive was longer than any that he'd typed before for LOB, but (and I checked), his last entry here was longer than my previous one was so watch me now as I exceed everyone's expectations and pay for it dearly.

San Francisco then. You'd think it'd be the gay men's capitol of the world, wouldn't you? I mean, you do, don't you? That's what we've all heard. It's supposed to be that kind of a place, isn't it? Well, from where I was standing (and I swear, I stood the entire time), it completely wasn't. Of the 21 or so porno shops within walking vicinity of the club we played that night, I found a grand total of TWO that had magazines or merchandise specifically aimed towards folks of that particular ilk.

All the porno shops we visited (and I did a bit of exploring on my own) catered to, largely, the heterosexual population. And not that this disappointed me, it didn't. I was just surprised that that's how it panned out considering our geographical location. Maybe we were in the wrong part of town but I was hugely entertained by the surroundings nonetheless and found myself to feel very much at ease in the midst of what felt like your typically average downtown street corner replete with strip clubs and porno shops accessible at every direction. I just expected more, I guess. But don't I always? Yah, I guess I do. Ah well. I hope to visit you again one day, oh Frisco. How I luvya.

The Wrap-Up Ending-Type-Thing (Finally!)

And so brings, I believe, an end to this freakishly long Member Missive which I do not presently bear the strength, energy, nor desire to continue with (boy, aren't you glad). But I ought to end with something along the lines of this:

WNHTH 2.0 was the most professional tour I've ever been a part of and I'm grateful to all parties concerned. I could thank tons of people, but (as if anyone has read this far), you know who you are. And I thank you all, herewith, beyond words.

Until next time, this is Marc Z, happy new keyboardist for BFD, signing off. Happy missive-reading to you all. And if you have any questions or comments, please forward them to Kenneth Starr who'll be happy to get back to you as soon as he's done relinquishing the opinions of the people of the United States of America to the Office of the Independent Council. James Carville for President, I say. Or maybe even Jesse Ventura.


Marc Z.

Jason Harrison Smith

Motard's Wild Kingdom

Once again I bring you little nuggets of nothing important and mindless jibber.

Motard's New Music List

Once again, it is important that we view what must inspire a motard to be a motard.

  1. The Motards-...rock kids - Empty Records
    While killing some time in Seattle, we took in a Tower records before getting obliterated and spent some money. Searching diligently, I heard a universal message to all music searchers. "Oh my God!" It was Beller. I rushed over to see what he found. He held this disc up.
  2. Elaine Elias- ANY RECORD!
    Look, if any of you are true fans of the piano and Brazilian Jazz music, I STRONGLY recommend this stuff. email me for specifics if needed.
  3. Denny Zeitlin- Cathexis/Carnival - Collectibles
    Seattle had this treasure waiting. Once again, if you are a fan of jazz piano, get this.
  4. Robert Walter- Spirit of '70 - Greyboy
    Breckenridge, CO. Mike and I are watching a pool game and this comes on over the p.a.. We both turned to one another and asked, "Who is this?" This is a true retro soul/chitin/funky jazz album. These guys did it right. Just enough of an old freshness to it
  5. Arcana- Arc of the Testimony, The Last Wave -Axiom, DIW
    With my "like it/lump it" attitude about Bill Laswell, these two stick as some good quality shit. "Arc" is a lot more accessible to the untrained ear. "Last Wave" took a minute(actually hours) to get used to. Once acquiring the taste, the flower blossoms.


Motard's New Requirements Of Being A Motard

  1. Motards truly are animal lovers. Seeing the duality in that phrase (no, not bestiality) ,you do the math.
  2. Motards are not afraid of color. (See pictures)
  3. A motard must like Stewart and Andy more than Sting.
  4. Repeat after me the pledge of MOTARD: Ar jee dee wer jar dee wer di dee. (Spoken in your best "Too much moonshine" voice)
  5. Due to lack of vocabulary, motards swear a lot.

Motard Predicts!

With the coming millennium and all the psychic friends I could ever want, I thought I'd take a stab at it.

On Jan 1 2000 , People will stop and see just what kind of trouble we the world are in. Thus, people will revert back to good old fashioned phone calls to say "Hi" and "Bye". (BOY do I stink at this.)

2000 will mark a lot of firsts: Educated people will actually try to help the uneducated-as opposed to snobbing. Patience will no longer be a virtue BUT a requirement. A nostalgic revert back to the 80's will occur. (Can you imagine paying top dollar for a pair of vintage parachute pants?) MK/BFD will be kicking much ass. (Or I'll have a nervous breakdown.) Ron Spiegelhalter will become cyborg in order to store more info first hand-you know, digital video and audio files that only he can see and hear. Thomas will get the job being Bill Gates timespace advisor. Marc will find his soulmate (I didn't say the year 2000, just the millennium. Sorry Frick) Dan Phelps will still be under 21. DUH?! Bryan and Cami will fall deeply in love and have a family. (I'm going to regret that one.) Mike WILL be signed to the label of our choice. Scott will be a booking agent. Dennis will have a multimillion dollar studio facility after he wins the lotto. (With Thomas' help of course.) Leighsa will get into politics for no apparent reason. I won't be such an asshole anymore. That's enough of that shit.

Motard Thinks Back...

Waxing nostalgic, I think to the times on the tour with my "family" and smile. I can honestly say that no group of people has ever made me feel so human in my life. There is no pretension of the L.A. scene, no name dropping required, no sort of front to be put up. It's just us.

Searching out driving games, pool halls, record stores and of course BUCKETS. This is a start of wonderful things to remember.

Frick drilling me in the chest with a snowball in Utah.

The whole Motards CD experience.

Dan's recitation of the clerk in the men's hotel in "The Blues Brothers"

Dennis coming up with the idea of Ronald McDonald being a rapper and saying to the Hamburglar, "I used to fuck guys like you in prison." Watch the movie "Roadhouse" to get that one.

Frick, Mike and I sitting around late one night talking about our favorite albums.

Cami's amazing feat of keeping my hair color up.

Thomas' constant obsession over my girlfriends' picture.

Leighsa's amazing human being qualities.

Scott the Invisible somehow saving our asses every time. It was almost like the "Men In Black" kind of sketch on a daily basis. He always managed to pull out the laser rifle that killed the giant cockroach every time.

Bryan blowing kisses to me on stage when I did something he liked.

Folks, I'm stopping this before you all fall asleep. email me if you wish. mthomas26@yahoo.com

Take care! Hope to see you all very soon.


Scott Chatfield

There are times when I really love this gig.

Cami Slotkin

A general consensus would probably indicate that I'm a little late getting this Missive turned in, but, well, I have a pretty long list of excuses available on request, if you like. It's not all that fascinating, though, so the only one I'll present is that I had all these big ideas about writing up My Perspective Of Things, even including a wrap for We're Not Here To Help v. 1.0, and it was sort of overwhelming, especially in the face of finding a significant hunk of time to dedicate to becoming one with my keyboard. Actually, it was so overwhelming that I just kept putting it off.

Kinda silly. It shouldn't be a chore, and actually I've had quite a lot written for quite a while. But I let it sit too long, and it got stale. Maybe it's a copout, but then I started wondering why I even thought I should be attempting to produce the Great American Novel anyway.

Mike, Bryan, Jason, and Marc covered their respective angles perfectly amazingly, as did Leighsa, Dan, and Scott (especially Scott). As for me, I got to see most of the country, I got to meet some utterly wonderful people, and I got to do all kinds of terrific things (and some not-so-terrific things, like spilling beer on Scott's laptop, and trying to sing in Madison)--I had the time of my life, and it was in the company of the dearest friends I'll ever have.

Dan Phelps

What does it mean to be a member?

Let's take a moment to dissect the word "Member" and break it down to its basic components: "Mem" and "Ber." "Mem" is a mutation of the ancient Greek syllable "mo", which, roughly translated, means "to glom". It is rumored that Socrates used this word to convey how put-off he was by being poisoned. "Ber" is a Latin reference to a group, or collection of people. Some people have claimed to trace the word back to Mayan mythology, where it was used to describe tribes, or family. In its original form, it was pronounced "Burr."

Of course, there is the very likely possibility that I am full of it. Either way, I hope you're better for the information.

I've spent the last couple of days wondering what the hell I was going to write a "Member Missive" about. Of course I'm HONORED MORE THAN WORDS CAN CONVEY, but that's not a topic. So, I came up with the silly thing you read at the top. I think it's readily apparent that it's not enough of an idea to fill the required space. So, in a last ditch effort to salvage this thing, I'm gonna tell you how cool everyone is. Sure, it's been done before, but you'll read it again, right?

Scott Chatfield: Teddy Bear. Buddy Eternal. He's a wonderful, cuddly kind of guy with twinkly eyes and a sharp wit, but beware his evil twin Toby. Toby looks just like Scott, but he spends more time confusing people on the phone and fetishing over synthetic leather.

Mike Keneally: The gentle genius. A somewhat quiet guy. He spends lots of time in his bunk reading XTC books and eating peanut butter and jelly. He is a hero to me.

Marc Ziegenhagen: I love this guy. He's a sweetheart. Watching him smile, bounce, and contort while he plays MK's fiendish parts is a treat. The joy he exudes while playing is inspiring.

Bryan Beller: Bassboy. Grinder of low-end sound waves. Wielder of devilish eyebrows. He's an M&M, a hard candy shell with a soft center. A motivator musically and personally, he knows his convictions and sticks to them.

Jason Smith: Owner of the rhythmic grimace. Sometimes when I watch him play I wonder if he's gonna explode all over the place. He paints his nails. He colors his hair. He's a MOTARD. Jason, you will have your moment in the sun.

Bob Tedde: I don't know Bob that well. He's been with us for about 24 hours, and 23 1/2 have been spent practicing. God bless him. He's got MK's confidence in his singing and playing, and if I were in his position, I'd be in the back practicing, too. I look forward to knowing him better.

Cami Slotkin: I think that the same M&M theory applies here. It's my extreme pleasure to be sharing the Merch/Full Sail table with her nightly, dancing stupidly during "Killer Fish" and doing the big sell in "Pencil Music." She's a sweet soul.

Leighsa Gonzalez: Leighsa is a trooper. She's dedicated amazing amounts of her own time and money to promote the Keneally cause. She reads comic books called 'Milk and Cheese,' and drinks peach wine coolers. She's wonderfully in touch with her inner child.

Thomas Nordegg: Do not be fooled. Though he may seem godlike in his tech-abilities, he is only a man. Or is he? I can't recall ever seeing him sleep. Or eat. As a matter of fact, I think he's rechargable. OK, so he is a tech god.

Dennis Hill: Dennis has the daunting task of being the overnight Keneally-mobile driver. He's also worked for another musical hero of mine: Kevin Gilbert. Getting to sit around and hear stories of putting together his studio is a treat. Don't fear Dennis. He's not evil, just misunderstood. He's an exceedingly nice guy.

I love all of these people. Romping across the U.S. has been a highlight of my life thus far. Getting to know Mike as a friend has been a dream come true. Sigh.

In case you thought it was over, here's some more stuff I wanted to type...big bold type on this one, Scott...

Personal Highlights of WNHTH 2.0 (thus far):

Some of these have dates/locations:

10/16 Chicago: Hearing MK/BFD do an acapella version of "Pencil Music" at Scott's beckoning. Mike sang the melody, Jason did beat box, etc...

10/20 Spartanburg: Marc Z (LOVE that guy) and I jam stupidly on Smashing Pumpkins songs, he on guitar, me on drums. Soon after we started, Scott picked up the bass and it turned into a classic rock medley. We're a MEAN rhythm section, Scott and I. Yeah...

En route from somewhere to another place: Mike Keneally makes me a PB&J sandwich.

10/13 Denver: Jason instructs me on the finer points of nail care while painting my left hand for me.

Thomas Nordegg: "There is a lot to be learned from Bart Simpson..."

Well, that's all that comes to mind right now. There's many more. Every time we stop at a rest stop. Every time we watch a movie. These special moments happen everywhere, and I know they'll be with me forever.

Til' next time, if they ever let me do this again...I PROMISE to take my medication...

Billy Bob (Dan)

As If You Didn't Get Enough The First Time Around:
The Post Tour Addition

Hi, love-ees. It's your humble under-aged Full Sail rep with a little post tour addition to my first nonsense fueled Member Missive.

It was my fate to suddenly (like, with 3 hours notice) leave the tour from Madison, WI (props to Cami for remembering WHERE). The bonds that grew with everyone involved were large, and leaving them so fast without any warning (or just leaving at all) sucked. However, lucky for me I was off to be involved in even greater things.

So here's some stuff that tickled me, in random order:

Meeting the buoyant Chris Opperman in NY, during the Bottom Line shows was an absolute treat. He was wearing the award winning purple suit and Converse combo, and greeted me like I'd known him for years. You should really buy his album. It's totally cool. It's a beautiful combination of epic compositions, see-sawing harmony/dissonance ("Beware the Random Factor"), wicked surprises (the 7/8,7/8,7/8, and 4 over 6 section in "Send Your Money"), and a lot of good natured, wiggly-eyebrowed tongue-in-cheek fun.

Felix, our guest host in Ft. Wayne, IN. He's so cool that he took us to the 'good' record store in town. He also told us stories about his job (he's the guy who puts the liquids/medicine/drugs in those little IV baggies-on-a-stand that hospital patients get). Ever heard the words 'Mike Keneally and Beer For Dolphins' said in German? 'Nuff said...

Dustin, our guest host in Cleveland, OH sought fit to bring us 'bus toys.' This included a "Real L.A. Electronic Beat Jammer" toy drum machine, a little voice morphing mega-phone, a slinky (for Cami's lanyard), a Potato Gun, and...um, a SELF GRATIFYING wind-up monkey. Also included was an alien head to keep all this stuff in. Dustin also had the rockin'est hair of any guest host.

Cops: To Hot For TV videos were watched several times during the tour, and I sheepishly admit being entertained by some of the segments. However, just after returning from The First Annual MK/BFD Pool Tournament, one video presented us with some images that were so positively horrific that it SEVERELY DEPRESSED several members of the entourage. Later, as a catharsis, we ceremoniously cut the tape and threw it away, to insure that future bus inhabitants would not be subjected to its terrors.

Bryan, Cami, Mark, and I played a game of Scrabble in a hotel lobby in Ft. Wayne. Jason was on the phone for the entire length of the game, crazy guy. Beller got a mondo 50-point bonus for using all seven of his letters in one turn (he spelled macro-economics, or something...). Of course I came in DEAD LAST, but I also spelled 'dolphins' (which, I still maintain is worthy of some kind of point-bonus).

Marc Z's tape recorder- Marc has a little cassette recorder that he used to document much on-the-bus chatter and random rants. It was the brunt of many a joke ("He got it in a box of Cracker Jacks when he was ten...") due to its toy-like appearance. Thank god it was running when (somehow) we got into a discussion about those three note jingles that end so many commercials ("Na- Bis-Co, Ding!"). Someone commented that the "By-mennen!" one was a difficult one to navigate accurately, due to the large interval leaps. Mike sarcastically chimed in with: "I think my favorite was the Alpo jingle with the 5 3/4 octave interval in it."

Marc (completely serious): "Oh yeah? How did that go?"

Mike tried to sing it (with the 'Al' in sub-Barry White range, the 'Po' in chipmunk land) and the bus erupted in laughter. You had to be there.

Saying stuff that I know will make (the red three named hydra monster) Jason Harrison Smith giggle his boyish giggle.

Scott took Dennis and I to an abandoned ocean-front amusement park/entertainment center in Asbury, NJ (a scary enough place on its own). It took me a while to get over my feelings of impending doom (it was CREEPY, ok) before Scott's boyish glee seeped into my view of the place. Some of the paintings on the walls, which were cute and fun in the 50's, looked positively demonic (particularly the clown). It was neat.

Bryan Beller's constant abuse of a (I think it was Zeigenhagen's) Pink Floyd biography as "prime-bucket-reading-material."

Thomas bought a "Rippin' Country Lead Electric Guitar" in a truckstop in Indiana (we also scored some wicked SNOW COW snow globes). He later awed us with his virtuosity and unique whammy-bar articulation techniques. Later on with the addition of the "Bitchen LA Rhythm Beat Box Thing" we had full on xenochrony happening.

Some wonderful person at Wilbert's in Ohio gave me a Jonatha Brooke poster (she's an astonishingly wonderful singer songwriter). She was playing there 10 days after Mike, and it made up for my near-fatal caffeine overdose (tell ya about that later) frombookstore.

There's many more memories yet to be told, but I think they might be amusing to me only. Some of them I'm saving for myself. I'm grateful for ever moment. All in all it was one of the greatest experiences I've yet to have (or may ever have for that matter). Thank you to every one in the BFD entourage for welcoming me into the fold, and thanks to anyone who came up to me and said hi.

Til' next time...

See you on the Led Motard reunion tour,

Billy Bob Phelps

Leighsa Gonzalez

So, here I sit at some tollbooth in Maryland (at least I think we're in Maryland) typing up my member missive. As I type the sentence Ziegensmilin' says, "Are we still in Louisiana?" Not just a reminder of the last tour where I first met all of these amazing souls...but proof that I'm not totally nuts and that none of us really knows where we are except Jim, our driver.

Let me tell ya about Jim, the driver. Jim is amazing. Jim has actually been a treat, although I could personally do without the recurring laser show. He is a fan of the Dixie Chicks, or is it the Chixie Dicks, or the Dicks with Chicks? I can't really remember anymore...the name of the band has been bastardized to the point that I'm no longer sure which one is correct. (many of those variants were Created by Motard I may have to purchase a Chicks with Dicks CD just because. Jim and I have bonded because I instructed him on how to use a MK/BFD Laminate (thanks Colin) to sneak in to see the Bics with Sticks at the Alabama State Fair. Saved him 15 bucks on a ticket...and he got to stand as close to the stage as he wanted and got a lot of groovy pics of the Flicks with Schicks. Happiness is the coolest thing. Thanks Jim!

Onto other things. These guys are amazing. Ziegenbouncin', Motard, Bryan, Bob Tedde, Nordegg, Dan (Billy Bob), Scott Chatfield, and of course Keneally. Keneally is amazing on so many levels. What a person. I'm so glad I met him.

The woman on this tour is angelic. Cami Slotkin-the four syllables pronounced are like the music of a sunrise. Cami rocks.

Cami and I being the only two females currently on the tour have bonded in many ways. Today we even woke up at the EXACT same moment. We've been mistaken for one another a few times, must be the hair. Best Cami moment so far, we sit at the merch table during the shows speaking of everything and nothing...and during "Looking for Nina" where there is silence (album version), and during "Potato" when MK sings "AUSTRALIAAAA!!" she yells, "What the fuck." She is the coolest, when MK/BFD comes to your town...please visit her and spend much money at the merch table, it makes her happy, she deserves much happiness. My suggestion...get one of everything she's extremely happy then, just make sure she hasn't closed up for the evening.

PB&J- It's not often that I eat peanut butter and jelly. It's even less often that the sandwich is made for me by a musical genius. Chef Keneally made sammiches for all of us. As I watched him making mine I thought, he's using a bit more jelly then I would have used EVER...but I was happy that he hadn't made me a pet peeve sandwich, spreading the peanut butter and jelly on the same slice of bread. The sandwich was actually one of the best PB&J's I've ever had. Keneally must be an expert on appropriate amounts of Jelly. Thanks Mike the sandwich rocked!!!

Ziegensnorin'- My first night on the bus I couldn't sleep. Then I heard the sweetest snoring. It wasn't quite baby snoring, but close. I realized that it was Ziegenvroomin' and it lulled me to sleep.

Bryan and games- Bryan Beller is one of the most competitive bad losers I think I've met...well, bad loser might be going a little bit far. Cami beat him at Scrabble and he was still somewhat bitter about it at 3am when we started playing Hearts. Keneally who had been touched by something godly that evening won at Hearts and then again at Scrabble. At 6:15 in the morning when the Scrabble game was over and Keneally had won, Bryan was not particularly happy. He wasn't upset mind you...just unhappy.

Spartanburg- now this town is well worth mentioning. I'd never even heard of Spartanburg before I found out the tour would be cruisin' into that town. South Carolina, basically when we first got there it was a sad state of affairs. Cami and I went to the pharmacy due to boredom. The pharmacy should have been renamed "Toys R Us". There were more toys in that store than I'd seen at any other pharmacy...every toy either shook, danced, sang, talked, or any combination of those. Prior to our joint walk to the pharmacy I'd gone on my own and seen a store front window with the following painted in a beige semi-gloss on the inside of the glass: CAROLINA BROWN LUNG OF SPARTANBURG ( 'nuff said?)

The Club that we played at that night was the size of the Vatican. The people that worked there were extremely friendly and insanely awesome. I met Candido Roman who was puertorican and from the same part of the island as a LOT of my family. We spent a great deal of time speaking in spanish. He was really cool. Mick, the manager of the club was also extremely cool. I'll never doubt a place cause I've never heard of it again. Spartanburg was groovy.

Now I guess I should explain the picture. When the band was doing sound check in the club, Jim the driver and I were trying to get in. Much to our dismay the back doors were locked. On the door was the biggest daddy-longlegs I'd ever seen. Jim picked it off the door and pretended that he was going to throw it at me. I screamed in that cliche girly way. Jim said, "It's only a spider." So I put him on my hand. When I tried to get rid of it, it wouldn't leave. It kept coming back for more. I found it on my boot after shaking it off. I brought Spidey to the bus and Dan (arachnophobe) wanted me to "GET IT AWAY PLEASE". He hid behind a magazine, the pic was snapped. I rereleased the spider into the Atlanta night. Two seconds later its long legs were crushed under someone's shoe. :(

Sadness in paradise.

Additives and Sweeteners-

Thomas Nordegg- How could I explain the child soul that is Nordegg? Perhaps these small moments will bring across the man, the child, the legend.

3 Moments of Nordegg-

1. We're all in the bus watching the Simpsons and playing cards. It's the episode where Bart and Lisa are watching Itchy and Scratchy and the TV gets unplugged. I looked over to see Thomas covering his mouth like a little boy in suspense.

2. Fireworks- Cami and I are out dancing...the set is rounding out and Fireworks begin to explode directly behind the stage or so it seems. Mr. Nordegg with one hand on each cheek (facial). It was as though they were the first set of fireworks he'd ever seen.

3. Springfield, VA- Thomas is as per usual hiding somewhere as far out of sight as possible, velcro in hand I'm sure. I take a picture of him with the digital camera. He notices the flash and turns to me and says, "How can you take a photo of a man that does not cast a shadow." That my friends is Thomas Nordegg.

Scott Chatfield- I was surprised that Scott hadn't gotten tanned from the ever present glow of the laptop on his face.

There was a moment in Philly where I wanted to just go for a walk so I asked Scott to come with. We went to visit the Liberty Bell and it was really dark and scary around there. We saw a sort of console with all these groovy buttons that were there to be PUSHED. So of course I, the nosey one, decide to press one. Nothing happened. So I pressed another one. Nothing happened this time either. As we walked away this blaring voice which seemingly came from nowhere began blabbering. I wouldn't be able to tell you what language it was in...but it was neither english nor spanish.

Another great moment again in Philly was getting lost with Chatfield. We both had to use the lavatory in a bad way so we walked into this little bar/cafe thing. There were two people seated along the side of the room opposite the bar. The female member of said duo was singing Motown rather badly, I assumed it was Kareoke. When we left we realized this was no Kareoke bar. They were actually performing. Dead cats sound better than what we heard.

That wraps up my additives section. I just wish I'd had some polyvinylacetate to adhere my butt to the bus. Alas, I did not. :(


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