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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 8 1988

Now it's March 8 1988. I'm in Columbus. I only have a few minutes here so I might not get everything down that's happened lately, 'cause we're leaving to go to Pittsburgh in about fifteen minutes. But I can fill you in on some stuff.

We left Cleveland on the morning of March 6. Drove. Bob Stone had made a cassette copy of the show in Cleveland the night before, and while on the bus a bunch of us sat in the back lounge and listened - me, and Bob Stone of course, and Chad, and Albert and Paul...

...and listened to what we had done. It sounded good. Occasionally I headed up to the front of the bus where Bobby Martin was reading, and I'd lay down up there. Ike and Ed were both sleeping. Bobby Ward was sleeping. It was a nice bus ride. Uncharacteristically quiet, because Ike was sleeping...I'm thinking that I may be switching to the other bus, because when Ike is awake there's no rest to be had.

So we got to Columbus a little bit late, but of course the hotel rooms still weren't ready and we all sat in the lobby for half an hour being very pissed. We finally managed to get into our rooms at around 3:00 PM. So we had to hurry to get cleaned up and dressed and ready to leave again for soundcheck by 3:30. There were a lot of frazzled nerves but surprisingly little complaining.

We got to rehearsal...Bobby Ward doesn't like waiting around for late band members; he figured they can get themselves to the rehearsal hall if they want to...so there was no [name deleted], he slept through all the calls and knockings on his door. We got to rehearsal and ran through some stuff. Frank mentioned that Jimmy Page and Robert Plant might be popping up sometime to play "Stairway To Heaven," and he said it would be nice to do "Shapes Of Things" for Jeff Beck when he shows up in London. So Frank looked at me, and I figured out the chords and we did a reasonably good instrumental version of "Shapes Of Things" with Frank playing the vocal melody on the guitar. And then we did "Marqueson's Chicken" and "The Untouchables", and it finally dawned on Frank after it got to be about 5:30 or so that there was no [name deleted]. That was upsetting to Frank because this was the night that the "60 Minutes" crew was supposed to come around. So Frank suggested that we try to do "Jesus Thinks You're a Jerk" without [name deleted]. While we were doing it, [name deleted] showed up and went over to his station and began performing. As soon as he did, Frank waved the band to a halt and asked him where he'd been, and he made all kinds of excuses, nobody tried to call him, he didn't hear any knocks on the door - the usual garbage. And Frank just said "OK. I have to go to a press conference. Everybody go eat dinner." So as soon as [name deleted] showed up, rehearsal was over.

So Frank went to a press conference out in the lobby, where all the local news people were, to be named honorary Secretary of State of Ohio. Fun stuff. Scott and I found a TV and monitored some of the local coverage - pretty innocuous fare.

We had a good dinner and a good time.

On to the show...it started out with some local luminary, while we were vamping "Black Page", giving Frank some kind of plexiglass-looking award thing, and dubbing him the honorary Secretary of State of Ohio, and the audience went entirely nuts. The "60 Minutes" guys were roaming the stage; they were also taping the rehearsal, so that stuff about [name deleted] not showing up might end up on CBS. But the cameramen were roaming the stage and it seemed like they just couldn't get enough of me, every time I turned around they had their cameras trained on me. I don't know what that was about.

For set one we did "Black Page," "Turning Again," "Alien Orifice," "Any Kind Of Pain," "City Of Tiny Lites," "Pound For A Brown," "The Untouchables" - world premiere there - um, "When The Lie's So Big," "Jesus Thinks You're A Jerk" and "Sofa." Very well-played set, a good representative performace for the folks in "60 Minutes" world. One unfortunate thing is that, at the end of "The Untouchables," Harry was supposed to turn on his talk-back mic and say "the Untouchables!" the way Walter Winchell did on the series, but Ike didn't know that Harry was going to do that and Ike said it instead.

(1998 comment: The released version of "The Untouchables" on "Broadway The Hard Way" does, however, feature Harry Andronis, at the soundboard in the hall, saying "the Untouchables!" over his talk-back mic at the end of the track. I thought that was a lovely idea.)

Onward to the second set, which was the Beatles medley, "Sharleena," "Orange County," "Joe's Garage" and "Why Does It Hurt When I Pee." Another very good set. During "Joe's Garage" I put on this outrageous wig which showed up recently in order to portray Mrs. Borg. The first encore was "Whipping," "Walrus" and "Bandit" - during "Bandit" I had the Mrs. Borg wig on again, along with my little round dark glasses, while I was playing soprano up on the horn riser. I also went up on Ed's riser for the first time; I just stood there, cradling the soprano sax and looking strange. I always have a good time on that song. The second encore consisted of "Genteel" and a surprise reprise of "The Untouchables." We weren't expecting it, but we got it.

After the show we came back to the hotel. I spoke to Viv, then went down to the bar where Kurt and Albert and Bruce and Walt and Paul and Chad and Bob Stone were, along with three people who had seen the show. These people liked the show very much. Even though the bar was supposed to be about closed, the management actually kept it open past closing time so that we could cavort, and we called Domino's and they delivered two pizzas to us in the bar, and Ed showed up for a while. I got into a political discussion with one of the audience guys; I was explaining why I felt it was important to register to vote, and he was depressed at having to choose between such a bunch of jerks, although by the end of the conversation he'd decided that Albert Gore did in fact speak to him on some level and that registering to vote would be an all right thing to do. So we had a good time in the bar, and then I came back up here and fell asleep.

Woke up the next morning with a whole day to do anything I wanted, and the first thing I wanted to do was not get up, so I managed to lay around and watch TV for a couple of hours. Really, really bad; I shouldn't be doing that stuff, but it was fun. Took a shower, got dressed, and headed out into the world.

I have to get ready to go right now. When I next pick up this machine I will tell you what happened when I went out into the world in Columbus. For now, goodbye Columbus and hello Pittsburgh, and I'll talk to you later. 'Bye-ee.

Next episode:
MARCH 12 1988

Last episode:
MARCH 5 1988

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