Newly hired stunt guitarist Mike Keneally kept an audio journal during most of Frank Zappa's 1988 "Broadway The Hard Way" tour that included set lists, backstage goings-on and many personal observations. Here are the transcripts of Mike's diaries, originally posted in chronological order on their 10-year anniversary dates. Home | The Music | Mike | Facebook | RadioKeneally | Live Performances | Gallery | Links | Fans | Press Info | Store
MARCH 12 1988
Hello! Now, it is March 12, I'm in Burlington, Vermont, it's about 2:28 PM, and, uh, got lots of days to catch up on, and I will return now to where I left off, midway -through March 7 in Columbus, which was one day before I did the last entry on March 8. Got it?
I had been told that the place to go walking around in Columbus was south of the hotel, downtown, that's where things were happening. So I walked south, and there was a lot to look at, a lot of 19th century church architecture commingling with modern banks and stuff, very interesting to look at and walk around in. Went in a bookstore and found a local paper, which taught me that there was a nice conglomeration of record stores a bit north on the same street, so I began a-walking on High Street.
Walked through the art section of town, lots of galleries and art supply shops, and there was a jazz club there called The Major Chord, and it was evident that this was where things of a more bohemian nature were likely to go down. I kept walking and took note of graffiti on the walls, including one recurring character called "Mr. Yuk," he was all over the place - obviously somebody's little trademark graffiti thing. I had my first ever White Castle burgers, and the perfect type of just-artificial-enough vanilla shake that I remember from my childhood, and then I finally made it to the record shops which were right next to Ohio State University.
I went to a place called Singing Dog and got a nice set of four 7-inch Zappa interview picture discs in a big plastic carrying case for twenty bucks. Continued walking, found a two-story record store where the upper floor is called School Kids and the lower floor is called Used Kids, and one of the guys in School Kids recognized me from the show the night before, and we talked for a while. I got a local paper called The Scene which had a nice interview with Frank, and also the Rolling Stone with the Beacon Theatre review in it. Then I went down to Used Kids and got a Hatfield And The North CD for seven bucks, happy about that.
And then I was walking back, trying to decide if I was gonna walk back the several miles to the hotel - it was dark by this point - or try to flag a cab or something, there appeared Scott, who had also been browsing, looking for CDs. We went into a bar and talked for a bit, had a real good time. He was in a good mood. We went to an arcade where he played several car games, and there was one game in the arcade that sounded like every ten seconds somebody was going "Mike. Mike." It was an electronic voice saying something, but it sounded like it was trying to get my attention and that was disconcerting. But I had a very good time with Scott.
We continued walking, saying "obviously we're not going to walk all the way back to the hotel," and we stopped in a pool hall for a few games. I would have won every game but I lost two of them scratching on the 8-ball shot, always a drag. This guy came up to us who had just gotten into a big argument with his girlfriend and needed some cheering up, and wanted to know if I would play a game of pool with him, so I did. He was very sad, looked potentially dangerous. I didn't even come close to winning that game. It seemed to lift his spirits considerably. He was an argument against inbreeding if ever I've seen one.
Scott and I continued walking and walking and walking and saying surely we're not walking all the way back to the hotel, and then we got to the hotel. In the hotel bar we found Bob Stone, a pair of Fowlers and Paul. Poor Paul is having a bad couple of days: he lost his leather jacket in the bar two nights before in Cleveland, and here in Columbus he had just misplaced $100 from his wallet, so he was feeling a little poorly. Also he had hoped to record one of the shows, he got a brand new tape recorder, and he left it on "pause" the whole night. Poor Paul. But he's got a beard, and it's looking good.
So I hung out in the bar with the guys. Scott went upstairs to call Freddie. When he came back down we went across the street to the Hyatt, where Frank was staying. In that bar was Dave Moulder, Frank's bodyguard, so we hung out and talked to Dave for a while. Walked back across the street, it was about 1:00 AM by this point, and Bruce decided it was time for a late-night conversation about the state of the band. He came in to hang out with Scott and I and talked about how concerned he was, and I told him that I thought things were going well, and that any large group of musicians this good is going to have a certain amount of internal tension and there's not much you can do about that, and that I think it probably helps to feed the band creatively. Because the band is improving all the time. He found some validity to that.
The next day, March 8, we did the bus ride from Columbus to Pittsburgh. Bobby and Ike and I watched "Blade Runner" and "Blazing Saddles" on the way. We arrived in Pittsburgh just in time for soundcheck, where we played "Zomby Woof," "The Untouchables," "Dumb All Over," "Heavenly Bank Account," "Flakes," "Cruisin' For Burgers," "The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing," and, for the first time, "America The Beautiful," that was the first time Frank mentioned that to us as a song he'd like to play and we whipped up an arrangement pretty quickly. It sounded really nice. During this soundcheck I put a "Mr. Yuk" drawing on Scott's amp, thinking that he'd recognize Mr. Yuk from his walk around the University area the day before, but Scott didn't know who Mr. Yuk was and actually got offended until I owned up to being responsible and explained what it was.
We went away. We came back. The show that evening consisted of: Set One - "Stink Foot," "Peaches," "Stick Together," "My Guitar," "Willie," "Montana," "Tiny Lites," "Pound," "Lie's So Big," and "Jesus Thinks You're A Jerk." Set two was "Eat That Question," "Black Napkins," the Beatle Medley and "Sharleena." That was all of set two! Pretty short. First encore was "Joe" and "Pee." Second encore was scheduled to be "Catholic Girls" and "Crew Slut," instead we did "Cruisin' For Burgers," much to my delight. Went away again, came back and did "Uncle Remus" and "Orange County." One funny thing which happened, during my solo in "Pound For A Brown": I was doing the guitar and keyboard simultaneously thing, and I was playing really out-there stuff on the guitar with my left hand, and playing the song "More" - "more than the greatest love the world has known" - on the keyboard with my right hand. Frank found that really amusing. No wait - I did that at the Columbus show, on March 6. Sorry about that. What happened at the Pittsburgh show was, it was supposed to go straight from "Pound" to "When The Lie's So Big." So Frank was getting ready to turn off his loops and pointed at me to get ready for the downbeat of "Lie's So Big," and when he pointed I went into the opening chord sequence of "Lie's", but no one else played it along with me, they just kept improvising. In order to make it sound sort of intentional I began to do an organ solo using the chords from "Lie's So Big" as a kind of motif, and I started to play the guitar simultaneously with the organ in a more musical fashion than I usually do - it was actually really nice - and then I stepped out to the front of the stage and played the rest of the guitar solo there, and got a standing ovation. So from embers came something pretty cool. That's what happened in Pittsburgh, and the "More" thing happened in Columbus.
After the Pittsburgh show it was back to the buses, I went on the smoking bus this night. Playing video golf and having a good old time with Scott and the Fowler boys. We went to a restaurant called The Cheese Cellar. I had a very wonderful tuna melt, and toll house pie for dessert which was sinfully incredible. Then the bus took us to Buffalo.
The band was installed at the Hyatt Regency, Frank's hotel, rather than Holiday Inn where we were scheduled to be, which meant that a package Viv had sent to the Holiday Inn for me was refused delivery and at the time of this recording no one is quite sure where it is. I found this out because when I got to Buffalo, instead of getting some extra sleep, I walked the seven blocks to the Holiday Inn, figuring it would be worth the walk to get the package, and of course they didn't have it, and walking back was kind of depressing because it was starting to drizzle and I felt like Charlie Brown. So I got back to the Hyatt and called Jonathan because we had planned to meet at the TV station, but I told him I needed some sleep, so I got some sleep.
Woke around 2:15 and took a shower, and my nephew Greg and some of his buddies were supposed to meet me at the hotel around 2:30 and hang out, but they didn't show up until after we left for soundcheck. So I didn't see them until after the show. At the soundcheck we played "America," "Untouchables," "Promiscuous" done with Elliot Ness inflection, sections of "Willie The Pimp" and "Eat That Question", done so that Ike could bone up on those respective guitar riffs, and some horn arranging for "Bobby Brown."
Set one that evening was "Black Page," "Peace Corps," "Penguin In Bondage," "Green Hotel," "Baltimore," the tour premiere of "The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing"...
...hold on just a second.
That was little Bobby Ward checking on me. After "The Meek" was "Advance Romance," "Bobby Brown," "Lie's So Big" and "Jesus." Second set was "Any Pain", "Torture/Lonesome," Beatle Medley, "King Kong" and "Stairway." We only did one encore due to time constraints, and that was "Easter Hay," "Untouchables" and the tour premiere of "America The Beautiful." Which was very, very nice, and which may become the regular ending of the show. A very non-ironic rendition of "America The Beautiful," for which Bobby requested that the line "God shed his grace on thee" be changed to "The only place to be," a change which Frank granted.
At the show in Buffalo were my nephew Greg and his three friends, and Jonathan and two friends of his. After the show I met Greg and his friends but I couldn't find Jonathan and his friends anywhere, so I went with Greg back to the hotel to drop off some stuff before I went out. When I got up to my room, I found that I had made a mistake earlier in the day: I heard that Scott was listening to Dweezil's new CD in his room, and we had connecting rooms, so I went next door to listen to it. When we left for the soundcheck, I left through his front door, neglecting to undo the chain on my front door, and I had closed the connecting door to my room which doesn't have a knob and the Scott side, there's just nothing there, so the only way to gain access to my room is through the front door. So I was fucked. Had to get security and they came up and cut through the chain, and fixed it up again after they let us in. One good thing, when I went downstairs to plead for help I found Jonathan there; he had been at the show, but instead of coming to the stage door on the side of the stage, he left the theatre and tried to get in through the outside stage door, which doesn't work. So finally we were all together, and I met Jon's two buddies in the bar but they didn't come with us, so it was me and Jon in one car and Greg and his friends in another car, and we crossed the border into Canada. I wanted to go to Niagara Falls, Greg and his buds wanted to go to a strip joint, so we did both, strip joint first, then Greg and his friends decided to go home and Jon and I went and drove through a very quiet, picturesque suburban area - this was my first time in a country not the United States, and I was enjoying that fact - and then we looked at the Falls, which were dark but beautiful. We made plans to come back the next day, when they would be easier to see and also beautiful. Jon took me back to the hotel and I fell asleep.
The next morning, I woke up, took a shower and Jon came around to get me again. We went to his place and he showed me some photographs he'd taken of the music room in my family's house in 1976, and that was mind-blowing; to have fragments of my memories handed back to me so suddenly and unexpectedly - growing up with your own family photographs is one thing, you get used to seeing just that angle of each room, but being suddenly confronted with someone else's perspective on your past is quite a thing. I spent a lot of time looking at those pictures. We were waiting around for Ronnie Turker, a guy who we went to first grade with. He was supposed to be coming through town, but he never called so we took off. We were getting really hungry.
We went to a pizza place where Jon had arranged to meet a friend of his named Joe, with whom he'd worked at the TV station in Rochester. This guy had just gotten a job with WGR radio news in Buffalo; Jon was real happy about that and we were gonna go celebrate. So Joe met us at this pizza place called Lenore's or Lavora's or something. Joe is a cool guy, very dry, very soft-spoken. A cool guy. And then we had pizza, and then headed back to Jon's place so Joe could look it over - they're going to be roommates. We visited Jon's brother Michael, who I haven't seen since he was in the second grade. He's gotten much larger. He's a schoolteacher now, and we borrowed his car. Then we went to visit the mother of an old high-school friend of mine, and she fed us buffalo wings and we reminisced, and between that visit and Jon's pictures I was just having a nostalgic hernia unrivalled. Then we stopped by to see Jon's sort-of-girlfriend Donna, because she wanted to come to Canada with us. I met her dad, who'd just read a newspaper review of our show the night before. He retrieved it for me and it was a very complimentary review; the guy who wrote it, Dale Anderson, was really knowledgeable. I was impressed. Then we went back to Jon's brother's place, and Jon's brother's fiancee Nancy was there, and all six of us got in Michael's Cadillac and drove back to Niagara Falls. It was all lit up and terribly beautiful, and then we went to a restaurant called Happy Jack's which, despite its name, serves very good Chinese food. We got a big batch of dishes and went to town on it. My fortune cookie fortune concerned good opportunities for promotion at work.
We had a right blast all night long. We dropped off Michael and Nancy, and then Donna asked if we wanted to stop off somewhere for a drink and I said that sounded great, and Jon said "Oh, really?" He seemed taken aback that we didn't want the night to end right then. So we stopped and drank and talked some more and had a lovely time. I noticed, with Jon and Donna, something of a parallel with the way Viv's and my relationship got started: they've known each other a long time, seen each other on and off when they weren't seeing other people, and just kept in touch over the course of many years. I mentioned this to him - I was reasonably well-lubricated by this time so I was talking very freely - and that it seemed to me that they were a good couple. We were in the car, we'd dropped off Donna by then. Jon repeated what he'd said to me on several occasions in the past, that he'd been the one responsible for keeping the relationship from becoming too serious, and that he felt he was just too busy with work to enter into a genuine relationship right now. I let that sentence stew in a few seconds of silence before screaming "bullshit" at the top of my lungs, and Joe agreed that that particular cliche was pretty creaky. And Jon, after giving it some thought, agreed that it was a pretty tired argument.
Finally he dropped me off and I left my itinerary in his car, but he came back the next morning because he wanted to take me to his news station, and I got my itinerary back. So he called me up the following morning, which was yesterday, March 11, and...in case you're wondering why all the television noise in the background is in French right now, I'm picking up a TV station from Montreal, and they're showing a dubbed version of the "Planet Of The Apes" film starring James Fransiscus, "Escape" or "Revenge" or "Return" or something. It's the fourth one, whatever that's called. Not "Escape." That was the third one. I like that one. Unless it's the second one. Is this "Beneath The Planet Of The Apes"? Yeah, it is "Beneath The Planet Of The Apes." This is "Beneath The Planet Of The Apes"...um...all right. Yesterday was March 11, I got a call from Jon saying are you ready to go to the news station, and he showed up 45 minutes later with Joe and my itinerary and he took me to the station to show me a news program in progress, which was really quite entertaining. The guy who was doing the news was unable to say the phrase "hearing-impaired," he kept saying "herring-impeered," to the glee of everyone in the control room. We walked all over the studio.
It was time for me to get ready to move on to the next town, so Jon brought me back to the hotel and said that he was thinking seriously about the conversation we'd had the night before. I said "good." And then it was off to Rochester, a one-and-a-half hour trip, during which I stayed in my bunk and listened to a tape which a guy had given me in a bar two nights before in Buffalo. He was a percussionist. The name of the tape is "Three Pieces For Marimba" and it's not bad. I'll pass it on to Paul, he was interested to hear it, and maybe eventually it'll work its way around to Ed and we'll see what he thinks. I had a nice real conversation with Ed in Columbus.
At soundcheck in Rochester the first thing that happened was Frank came over and asked if I knew "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling," and I said "I'll learn it." We rehearsed a medley of "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" with the "Godfather" theme and "Louie Louie" interspersed, as well as "America the Beautiful" again, "What Kind Of Girl," "Keep It Greasey," "Chunga's Revenge," "Heavy Duty Judy" and a little bit of "Chana." There was a little oddness when Frank told Ike that he wanted me and not Ike to play the guitar vamp during Frank's solo in "Heavy Duty Judy." Ike said "I can do it in time," and Frank said, "Well, I'd rather Mike did it." That was a little uncomfortable.
And then we had turkey dinner. I was already tired, and after turkey I was really tired, so I went in the dressing room and fell asleep. Bobby Ward came in with the newly spellchecked European tour schedule; when we'd gotten the first version it was all misspelled, for instance "Hamburg" was spelled "Habgerge." "Munich" was spelled with a K at the end. The gentleman responsible for typing up the first schedule is dyslexic, so we don't give him a hard time about it. Then we went in for the huddle, and Frank asked me why I thought that "Penguin In Bondage" is such a well-received song in concert - whenever Frank sings the first line the audience goes crazy. I said it's a great song, but also people get a nostalgic rush when they hear it, -cause it's from 1974 and fans remember that era really fondly. He said he had a hard time believing that everybody who cheers for that song actually owns the "Roxy & Elsewhere" album, it just doesn't jibe with the sales figures for that record. I said "Maybe they all heard it at a friend's house," and Frank thought that was pretty funny.
The show that night in Rochester consisted of "Chunga's Revenge," which was technically a world premiere although Frank did work it into his "Enema Bandit" solo a few nights before, followed by "Packard Goose," "Andy," "Inca," "Lucille," "Swifty" - haven't done that in a while, "Penguin," "Green Hotel," "Lie's" and "Jesus." Second set: "Heavy Duty Judy," "Find Her Finer," "Orange County," the Beatle Medley and "Sofa." First encore: "Whipping Post" and "Walrus," second encore: "Peaches" and "Stairway," third encore: "America The Beautiful." And it was a wonderful show. This was our first hockey rink gig, and it sounded great, and everybody was great, and it was a wonderful show. I had left five tickets at the box office for Mrs. Brundage, my high-school buddy's mom, but she had to stay home and watch her mom, and instead five people who I'd never met before came to the show, but I met them afterward and they were really blown away, they had a great time.
On to the bus and driving here to Burlington. I played video golf with Walt, we played four games and split -em two-and-two; as the night wore on I became less efficient as a golfer and I had to go to sleep. We arrived at Burlington and checked in here at the Radisson, got in my room, fell asleep again. Vivian woke me up with a call, no problem with that of course. She called about three hours ago, and we're leaving for soundcheck in about twenty minutes. And I'm all caught up; it took a lot of tape to do it but, hey hey, hey hey, it's not like I can't afford it or anything. I'll talk to you later. Bye bye.
(1998 comment: for whatever reason, I didn't do another diary entry until April 8 in Paris. So my most humble apologies, and we'll hear again from little 26-year old Mike in about a month.)
APRIL 1 1988 BOGUS APRIL FOOLS ENTRY!
MARCH 8 1988
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