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

1988 logo

MARCH 5 1988

Hello! It's March 5th! I'm in Cleveland, and there's some sort of telethon on in the background! Here it is...

(faint telethon noises)

You probably can't hear it, but...this of course means I will be up all night. And, my long night begins - ooo! I just picked up my notepad and a piece of Ike Willis confetti fell out of it. I'm going to start off my long evening by doing this, my little microcassette business. Um, starting with yesterday in Chicago, Chicago #2. After I finished doing the previous entry, um, shortly afterwards the bus came and we went to rehearsal. And at rehearsal we ran through a bunch of stuff. We did "Sharleena," and "What Kind Of Girl" again. And "The Untouchables Theme" and "Ride My Face To Chicago," "Cruisin' For Burgers," "Cocaine Decisions," "Nig Biz," "Stick Together," "My Guitar," "Willie The Pimp." And that was good fun. We ate, and then the show began, but first, during the huddle, Frank read to us a note from Sting saying that he really enjoyed playing with the band, thanks for accomodating him or something along those lines, he would really like to help Frank out with registering voters in America as long as Frank helps Sting to get Thatcher out of office - which Frank found very intriguing - and the note ended with "Please mail me the sheet music for 'The Idiot Bastard Son', you won't be sorry. Love, Mr. Sting." Frank called him Mr. Sting on stage. Let me think of some other things I might not have mentioned about Sting; during one of Frank's guitar solos Sting came over to where I was and looked at all the underwear surrounding me and said "What the hell is this?" I said "It's gifts from the audience," and he took down a bra and put it on his head. Sting obviously had a very good time, his note seemed to verify that. Also, at the huddle, Frank had a photocopy of a review of the first Beacon Theatre show from Rolling Stone, a magazine which has not traditionally been all that favorable towards Frank, and this was a very good review. Frank couldn't believe it.

So we went on stage and did the show which consisted of: "Stink Foot," "Lie's So Big," "Baritone Women," "Any Kind Of Pain," "What's New In Baltimore," "Stick Together," "My Guitar" and "Willie The Pimp," the last three of which were all tour premieres, "Montana" and "Inca Roads." Very good set, very good audience - people went nuts. Then, set two: "Zoot Allures", the Beatles medley, "What Kind Of Girl," "Peaches En Regalia," and a particularly hilarious version of "The Torture Never Stops/Lonesome Cowboy Burt, " with all kinds of Reagan business. The energy on stage was very high, the energy in the audience was also, it was a great show. First encore was "Yo Cats," which Ike forgot a number of the words to so I walked over and sang some of the lines into his microphone - it was all in fun and everybody had a good time with it - and "Packard Goose" ended that encore. And we went away and came back and the scheduled second encore was to be "Penguin" and "Green Hotel," but instead we did "Jesus Thinks You're A Jerk" and "The Illinois Enema Bandit." Let's see, during "Enema Bandit" I went up on the horn riser and grabbed a soprano sax; Paul had got this enema bag that somebody had thrown up on the stage, and we went down to Ike, I was on Ike's left playing the soprano sax with great intensity and artistic aplomb and absolutely no ability, and Paul was on Ike's right doing enema bag business. Then we went away; there was a scheduled third encore of "Orange County", but it was late, we would have had serious union trouble if we'd hung around, so we went away.

The two shows in Chicago were, I think, the best we've been in one city. We might have done better shows than either of them - for instance the last show in Detroit was quite wonderful, and the second show in New York City still stands in my mind as a particularly good show - but as far as just being across-the-board always good in one city, Chicago got the best we've had to offer so far. Sting didn't hurt either.

Then it was onto the bus, and to Pizzeria Uno where the promoter bought dinner for everybody. We all sat in there, I was at Frank's table with Kurt and Bobby Martin and the promoters, and this French guy, and some other guy. The French guy had all kinds of fan-type questions, he must have been a friend of the promoter or else he wouldn't have been at the table. We had a good time there, very loose, very fun, lots of jesting, but on the more serious side Frank and the promoters were going over lots of details about the Voters' Rock and Roll Convention scheduled for July. It seems almost a certainty that it's going to occur.

(1998 comment: It didn't.)

And finally we got out of there and drove to Cleveland, where I am now. When we got to the hotel here, of course the rooms weren't ready, so I continued sleeping on the bus until the time was right to enter the hotel - I wasn't nearly as disembodied as I was when I got off the bus in Chicago, this time around I knew where I was. So I got off the bus and went up to my room and got a little more sleep. Then Vivian called, and when she called I mentioned to her that Sting needed the music to "The Idiot Bastard Son." Frank didn't have "The Frank Zappa Songbook Vol. 1", nobody else had it, I was apparently the only one in the touring organization who had access to it. So Viv was kind enough to fax the music to me, and when I got it I showed it to Scott and he thought it was great, and when I gave it to Frank he registered surprise and said "Boy, that was fast," and he gave it to Dave, and he came back and patted me on the shoulder and said "Good job." Sting's happy, Frank's happy, everybody's happy.

Before leaving though, before that occurred, I went down to the hotel restaurant and had a cheeseburger and there were some road people there, guys who I actually hadn't spoken to previously; one of the drivers, whose name is Speedy, and then a couple of other guys. They used to work with the Beach Boys and they were telling Beach Boys stories, and they wanted to know how I got in the band so I told that story again. We had a good time.

Then to soundcheck, which...a lot of people in the band were very tired from the bus ride and not getting enough sleep and everything, and the energy at soundcheck was pretty low. Frank was worried. But we managed to practice "I Can't Get No Satisfaction," "Gloria," a little bit of "Last Train To Clarksville," "Norweigan Wood," "Honey Don't You Want A Man Like Me," and the tough bits of "Alien Orifice" which the horn guys and Ed requested to play. At one point Frank had us play it at half speed and I found that very difficult, I'm so used to the normal pace that playing it at half speed posed quite the challenge. [Name deleted] was complaining about not having enough energy after the big bus ride, and that would come into play later in the evening.

Anyway, Frank decided he wanted Chad to sing something. And Ed also, Ed came down off the riser to sing "Gloria." And Chad came down and we tried to teach him the words to "Last Train To Clarksville" and he didn't know that, and we messed around with the riff to "Like A Virgin" for a little bit, but that didn't really work. And Frank had to do an interview so we went away to dinner, and Chad was asking me what were some songs that Terry Bozzio used to sing in the band, and I named a couple and then he remembered "I'm So Cute," and I thought that that would be a perfect song for him to sing. So I told him I would write down the words for him, and I mentioned it to Frank at dinner and he thought that that was a real good idea. So I wrote down the words, and I hope that this something that actually happens because it would be quite a thing - Ed would go over and play the drums, Chad would come down to the front of the stage and sing. People would fucking lose it if that happened, you wanna talk about crowd response. They would go insane.

The show started with a couple of representatives from the League Of Women Voters coming on and explaining why it was important to register, and to demonstrate that it was something anybody could do, even a rock and roll concert promoter, the Cleveland promoter, whose name was Mike, came out on stage, and he registered to vote right on stage with everyone watching. And then Frank told the audience that if they really wanted to reward Mike for his efforts, all the underwear which the audience donated that evening would go straight to Mike the promoter, it wouldn't go on our clothesline, it would be saved in a special place for Mike the promoter. By the end of the night there was a fairly good collection for him.

Then we launched into the show, which was "Black Page," "Dickie," "Lies," "Baritone Women," "Any Kind Of Pain," the Beatles medley which is becoming a show fixture obviously, "Jesus Thinks You're A Jerk" and "Sofa." I found it a very well-performed, precise set. Then we came back and did "Monde," which got the predictable crowd response when we sang "let's move to Cleveland," but up to that point it was, to me, an amazingly good version of it - that song is frequently too loud and blustery and big, but tonight there was quite a bit of sensitivity going on, and I really enjoyed playing behind Frank during his solo. Matter of fact I really enjoyed playing behind Frank on a number of occasions during this show. Then we played "Packard Goose," and then "King Kong," during which Bruce, after his trombone solo, delivered a lecture about the Arthrodyer [spelling?] fish, which lived about 300,000,000 years ago and about its extinction and how we shouldn't let it happen again - it was pretty odd, but very funny. Then we did "Walrus," "Andy" and "Inca," and everything in this set was performed, I thought, with a remarkable amount of sensitivity, there just seemed to be a feeling onstage of lightness and confidence. I really liked it. I thought it was an excellent show tonight. First encore was "Peaches" and "Stairway," with the same feeling, everything relaxed and nice, but good, and the audience was going nuts. And then we went away again and came back and did "Sharleena," a tour premiere, where once again I got a nice opportunity to play behind Frank's solo - Ike's and my respective rhythm roles are becoming more clearly defined, Ike is generally called upon for the ostinato type stuff and the chunks, and when I play rhythm it tends to go off into odder realms, and tonight the examples of that were all very successful, I thought, including during the next song, "Orange County," which is always a great solo, and tonight was also great. And we were going to go away and come back and play "Strictly Genteel," but the horn guys said their chops were beat, so we stayed on stage and did "The Illinois Enema Bandit." Instead of going up on the horn riser tonight, I went over to Bobby and accosted him with one of two rubber love dolls which somebody had tossed up onto the stage. That was the first time I'd been around to Bobby's station, and he seemed happy to get some company.

The two regulars, Larry and Eric, finally got their laminates today, and they were very excited about that. Larry, who is an entirely grown-up sort of person, was jumping up and down going "Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy!", really digging it. And I had Gerald Fialka call Viv to ask her to record the ABC News. And after the show we got on the bus, as per usual, came back here to the hotel, I did this, and tomorrow we leave in the morning and go to Columbus where Frank is going to be made the honorary Secretary of State of Ohio, and "60 Minutes" will be on hand to film it. ABC News was at the show tonight, they filmed "Black Page" and some of "Dickie." And my usual sign-off, if I think of anything else to say I'll be back. And if not I'll be back anyway, soon.

Just thought of something: March 3rd, the first Chicago show, the one with Sting; we played "Catholic Girls," which starts with Chad playing a set of four elevens on the drum set, but when Frank gave the downbeat to start, in addition to Chad playing the - oh! I'm watching the credits for "Soul Train" and I see "Produced by George Duke." I don't think it was a production credit for the show itself, it's probably for a song which was played during the show. Uh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt - when Frank gave the downbeat for "Catholic Girls" [name deleted] began playing his [instrument deleted] riff along with the drum part, and he's not supposed to do that until after the drum intro is completed, so Frank waved the song to a halt and said "Gentlemen. We can do better than that." or something along those lines, and we started again. I bring it up because that's the first time on the tour that something like that has happened; I've seen that sort of thing on past tours, but it hadn't actually happened on this one yet, so that's a bit newsworthy. What else - oh, today at rehearsal when there was a problem with the band being lackadaisical, Frank mentioned that he wanted to be convinced that this was the same band that he had read about yesterday in Rolling Stone. And I forgot to mention something very important; when we did "Bandit" at the end of the show tonight - lately Frank has been changing the words around at the end of the song wildly, and tonight he changed it to include [name deleted] telling Frank how tired he was after the bus ride, which prompted Frank to sing "I don't wanna hear about that bus ride again," and at the end of the song he sang "It must be just what Genghis needs," and Scott fell on the floor from laughter and I nearly did the same. That's that. See y'all later.

(1998 comment: I'm kind of guessing about this next thing - someone who has a tape of the show can confirm it - but I'm pretty sure that this was the night that, since "Inca Roads" ended Set Two, I went over to Frank during the sax solo and suggested that, instead of ending the song with "On Bruce. On Bruce. (dunt duh dunt dunt) Ah hah! That's Bruce." we sing " On Bruce. On Bruce. (dunt duh dunt dunt) Ah hah! Good night!", an idea which Frank took to and had me deliver the news to Ike and Bobby so they could participate, which Ike did especially lustily. The feeling of exultation for me when we ended the song with that defiantly conclusive "Good night!" was almost unbearable - it was just the sort of concert moment which I know would have devastated me had I been out in the audience watching. The endings of things are really important to me. And the fact that this particular ending, which I found so effective, was my own contribution to the proceedings, nearly brought me to tears. I was overflowing with gratitude and pride, a stunning moment of total rightness for me. And if it didn't actually happen on this night, I apologize, but I'm pretty sure it did.)

Next episode:
MARCH 8 1988

Last episode:
MARCH 4 1988

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