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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

APRIL 12 1988

Vivian ultimately arrived at 11:55 on April 9. It is now April 12 and I'm in a very depressing, grim little dressing room in Berlin. It looks like a prison cell. Berlin as a whole is quite lovely though, although not entirely, as we will learn, but now let us return to the show on April 9 which was in Bourges.

We left the hotel at noon, which was five minutes after Viv arrived. Just in the nick of time there. We drove to Bourges, which was not quite a four-hour drive, and at soundcheck that day we did "Sofa," "Genteel," and the Bartok section of "Packard Goose" so that Bobby could try playing the melody with a new sound triggered from the Synclavier, "Lucy In The Sky" because we had to correct a wrong note on the intro, "Norweigan Wood," "Lie's So Big," "Baritone Women," "Bolero," "Uncle Remus," "Big Swifty," and the "Catholic Girls/T'Mershi Duween" medley.

Then it was dinner time. With the exception of Bourges we've got the same two British girls doing all the catering for the entire tour, which is lovely. But in Bourges, the backstage area --- the venue is a tent, first of all. We were "playing in a tent." There were a bunch of trailers for the band and Frank to hang out in, and between two rows of trailers there was a picnic table full of food. There were all kinds of palm trees around. It was an outdoorsy type feel. It was similar to the glimpse of backstage we catch at the end of "Does Humor Belong In Music?" and I liked it very much. That wasn't dinner, though...dinner was in a restaurant approximately one furlong distant from the concert hall, and as I say it wasn't the two British girls responsible for the food, and it was inedible. Truly horrible. Really, really bad. Couldn't eat it at all.

There was an opening act in Bourges, a violinist named Dieter Lockwood. The lead singer in his band was Alex Liegertwood, formerly of Santana. They played a fusion set whilst Scott cavorted, making believe he liked fusion in the backstage area. I took a nap during some of the set but I heard some of it; it indeed was fusion, they indeed were talented, and it indeed was kind of dull.

And after a break we hit the stage, and this was our first ever show with no intermission. The set consisted of "Black Page," "Peace Corps," "Orange County," "Torture/Lonesome," "Packard Goose," "Lie's," "Baritone," "Pain," "Jesus," "No Heart," "Love Of My Life," "City Of Tiny Lites," "Pound For A Brown," "Inca Roads" and "Bolero." Encore number one was "Walrus" and "Bandit." Encore number two was supposed to be the Beatles medley, "Peaches" and "Stairway," but instead it consisted of merely "Stairway," the new reggae version. And encore number three was "Easter Hay." We got cut short owing to time constraints, which is a shame because we had discussed before the show the possibility of going from "Easter Hay" into "In France." Didn't get that chance.

Oh, before the show there was a press conference which I saw some of, including a Frank and Dieter Lockwood photo op, and various reporters asking Frank various questions.

After the show was over we drove back to the hotel. We got up early the next day and drove to Gent, which is a pretty long drive. Vivian made her own way there and met me at the concert hall whilst we were rehearsing "Sofa" and "Bolero" and "You Are What You Is" which we haven't ever really played, and "T'Mershi Duween" and "Zomby Woof," "Advance Romance" and "Bobby Brown," and "Titties and Beer" with yours truly in the role of the devil. Then there was food from the British girls.

Actually, before the rehearsal, which started late, around 6:00 PM, Bruce, Walt, Paul and I walked around Gent because the Fowlers had seen something that said "Casino," and when we arrived there we found that it had been converted into a ballroom. And I saw a sign for something called a Compact Disc Centre but unfortunately that was closed. We went to the museum across the street; can't remember the name of the museum, but it was in Gent, and it had many, many rooms filled with extremely intense, nerve-wracking crucifixion art. Very good, very old and very disturbing.

Then we came back for dinner, which was in a very big, wide, sort of padded area. It's all indoor but it looks like a huge outdoor thing where trucks park. You had to go in this one entrance where the Dutch fan club guys were hanging out, these three guys who took a picture of me with the Fowlers when the Fowlers went out to give them their business card. So there's a big, long pad that you walk across to get out to the actual hall, and through one door is the stage, and a ways to the left of that door, on the other side of the recording truck, is the door to the dining area. I haven't been eating dinner much because I've been eating so much for lunch when we show up at the gig, and dinner is only two hours later.

Here's the show that we did that night in Gent: "Black Page," Beatles medley, "Pogen" - sounded real good - "Andy," "Inca" - these were all sounding real good - "Bolero," "Stick Together," "My Guitar," "Willie The Pimp," "Montana," "Packard Goose," "Any Kind Of Pain," "Jesus" and "Sofa." It all sounded real good. It was a very nice set. The first encore consisted of "Joe's Garage" and "Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?" At the end of "Pee" Scott hit a very wrong bass note on the word "I" and when the song was over Frank said "Scott Thunes, ladies and gentlemen! Good night!" And when we came back on stage for the second encore he once again said "Scott Thunes, ladies and gentlemen!" and then we played "Stairway," and then we went away and came back and did "Easter Hay," a very beautiful way to end the show, as always. Saying this reminds me that we did not end the show in Bourges with "Easter Hay" as I had mistakenly suggested in my last diary entry, in fact our only encores in Bourges were "Walrus," "Bandit" and "Stairway." So everyone adjust their lives accordingly.

After the show in Gent the rest of the band left town, and I stayed behind with Vivian in a wonderful bed & breakfast type of place. The lady who ran the place was the mother of a son who was working for a magazine and interviewing Frank after the show. He left me a note saying it was a great show and would I please write a set list out for him because he didn't recognize all of the songs, so I wrote a set list for him, and wrote that it was a very nice hotel, and Gent is lovely, and I thought it was a great show too. So we stayed at this wonderful bed & breakfast, although it was really only a bed because we had to leave early the next morning. But it was lovely. All antiques and nice.

We got up in the morning, paid our bill, went to the train station, took a train at 7:15 from Gent to Koln. First we sat down in one compartment, and a guy came along and told us in stilted English that we couldn't stay there, it was a first class compartment, and would we please stay in his little concierge type apartment until a couple of stops hence, so that more people would get off and there would be more room for us. So we stayed in this place with him and several other official Gentian trainmen, and after a couple of stops we went over to the dining car for omelettes and apple juice. Then we found what was probably another first class compartment but with not nearly so many passengers, so we sat in it and it was comfortable. The countryside as viewed from the window was beautiful.

We arrived in Koln and got on another train heading to Hanover. Here we had a first class compartment like you see at the beginning of "Hard Days' Night" all to ourselves. Again, the countryside was beautiful, and we were feeling on top of the world.

Then we had to take a train from Hanover to Berlin. First of all, it was completely packed, all seats were reserved, the only place where anybody who didn't have reservations could be was in the hallway. Which means you either had to sit in these horrible little chairs which came out of the wall, or you had to stand in the corridor. At first it was bad, then it got worse. As we actually travelled through East Berlin, things outside began to look very bleak, with many hundreds of tanks and guns and men and dogs and barbed wire and shit; then some Communists came down the corridor looking at everyone's passports and making us pay an extra forty-four marks, because Vivian's EuroRail pass did not encompass Berlin. I was getting bad feelings. We arrived in the train station and I was expecting to have all of our possessions rifled through and our passports revoked, but of course we arrived in West Berlin where everything was sweet and everybody was nice, and the Hotel Intercontinental where we're staying was within walking distance of the train station and suddenly everything was perfect.

I called Scott when we got to the room and he said "get ready to go out," so I took a shower - I desperately needed one after being surrounded by unpleasantness on the train. So Viv and I followed Scott's heels. We thought we were going to a Chinese restaurant but we went to a cafe to search for a friend of his. But his friend didn't know the name and/or address of the cafe so we were wandering, we were lost. Eventually we told Scott that we had to leave him because we were starving and Vivian was getting blisters on her feet. Scott said he was sorry and offered to pay for a taxi but we declined his kind offer. Blessedly we ended up at a Chinese restaurant where we got chicken with pineapple, and noodles with vegetables, and egg rolls, and it was delicious. Viv went in the ladies' room and liberated a very spiffy poster advertising several of our shows in Germany.

After that we researched the likelihood of taking the Metro back to hotel, and we had to walk around forever before we found the proper train, and when we found it we managed to ascertain, from something we found on the wall, that the last train headed for our destination had left about twenty minutes earlier. So we gave up and walked downstairs, and as if by providence there were two taxis there waiting for people who go up into the Metro thinking that they're going to find something that simply isn't there to find. We took a taxi back to the hotel. I was very tired. It was a very long day.

Woke up the next morning, this morning, feeling very happy and satisfied. Viv and I walked to the Europa shopping centre in Berlin, which was very close to the hotel. A big water clock is in the middle of the thing and the water shoots around and we were there at the top of the hour so we could see the big action. Viv got a nice charm for her ever-swelling bracelet. I looked in a book and music store where I saw the digitally remastered "Tales Of Mystery and Imagination" and a bunch of other interesting things.

Then we went to the Berlin Zoo, and that was beautiful except that Vivian forgot her camera. I said four or five times "let's go back and get the camera" and she didn't want to, and of course she regretted it as soon as we got in the zoo because it's ravishing in there. And the animals were inspiring. The most inspiring thing was a pack of about ten white wolves singing, just howling their hearts out. They did it for about five minutes and it was fabulous, really good stuff.

We walked back to the hotel. Everyone else in the band had checked out at noon and was wondering where I was. I told them that I had tried to contact Jim on many occasions and he wasn't around and he never left me a message so I figured it was business as usual. I realize now that I must find things out for myself if things are going to be found out at all. So Viv went on her way and I went on the bus to the soundcheck here in Berlin. Viv arrived here by bus during the soundcheck, and the soundcheck consisted of this: the new horn chart from the second day of rehearsal in Paris, the one that goes "nnn nuh not...nert nahhh nert nah-uht duh duh dut," but it's been updated, it's got more new really cool stuff at the end of it, with a drum chart going along with it. Just as I was thinking "boy, this sounds like something from 'Burnt Weeny Sandwich'," Bob Rice behind me said "boy, this sounds like something from 'Burnt Weeny Sandwich'." That was cool because at the beginning of soundcheck, before everyone else had gotten to the stage, I was practicing the melody from "Holiday In Berlin," and Frank came over and told me the story of this hall which we are in. This is the place where Adrian Belew was hired, in the middle of a Zappa show, by David Bowie. And then Frank told me the story of when he and Tommy Mars forged a David Bowie note to Steve Vai and Scott Thunes in 1982, and had them believing for three days that David Bowie wanted them in his band. Scott had related this tale to me in Hollywood but I didn't catch all the details because we'd both had too much to drink.

Back to what we played at soundcheck: after the new horn chart we played "T'Mershi Duween," including some of the new horn chart, "Sofa," "Baltimore," "The Closer You Are," "America The Beautiful," then a new thing that Frank's putting together: it starts out with four synthesizers playing a simple progression, F major to G major, then up to A, Bb, A, Ab, then it repeats. Then there's a little heavy metal guitar thing that goes F F E E F F E E, and then he was experimenting with different things to stick in it at that point, and finally decided to try putting part of the new horn chart in there. So these things are evolving wildly.

(1998 comment: the piece described above went on to form the basis of "When Yuppies Go To Hell.")

Then on to "Eric Dolphy," which sounded nice, and then everybody else left the stage except for Frank and Scott and Chad and me. Frank was building his loops for tonight's loop solo, and wanted to hear what it would sound like for us to simulate a loop. So he played along with the loop for a little while, then along with me for a little while, and that was the soundcheck. And I gathered my stuff and came into this little prison cell and said a big bunch of words into a little tape recorder. Right now it's 6:54 on April 12. Vivian at the moment is checking out a stable which is in close proximity to the concert hall, and getting something to eat if there is anything to eat nearby. See you later.

Next episode:
APRIL 21 1988

Last episode:
APRIL 9 1988

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