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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 29 1988

[Transcriptionist's Note: At various points throughout the beginning of this entry, a very hyper MK attempts to speak with a really bad foreign accent...I'm going to assume that this accent is supposed to be Finnish.]

OK, I'm in Fin-land. Helsinki, FIN-LAND. And today is April 29th, the day after Marty's birthday, and I wanted to call yesterday, but couldn't find a way to make a long-distance collect, I mean, a long distance calling card call out of Finland. So, when we get to another area, I'll do that. And that's MTV you hear in the background, and I have stuff to catch up on.

The Wurzburg experience was very amusing. I had written a postcard home about it. Johnny Cash was supposed to be at that show, so we rehearsed "Ring Of Fire" in a metal, I mean, sorry, a reggae version, and "I Walk The Line" in a heavy metal version. But as to what actually happened in the show, we'll get to that. Also at soundcheck, we had another new chart. Another new horn chart which was thematically unified with the first horn chart. The part that goes [sings part of "When Yuppies Go To Hell"] and Sofa, as usual, and The Reader's Digest Classical Medley, also with The Untouchables in it, and Alien, and little bits of Oh, No to get the chords right, and Dinah Moe Humm, and that new hunk of Trouble Coming Every Day.

Between the soundcheck and the show, we discovered that Johnny Cash would not be gracing us with his presence. However, since I managed to do a serviceable Johnny Cash impersonation in soundcheck, Frank asked if I would be willing to do it during the show and I said, "Sure."

So Ring Of Fire was not initially written into the set list, but it got stuck in. The set was: Heavy Duty Judy, then, Ring Of Fire, unplanned, just called on the spot after someone in the audience asked what the secret word for the day was, and Frank said it was "ring of fire," and to demonstrate we did it, and the words "ring of fire," and little musical bits of "Ring of Fire" managed to find themselves in almost every song that night. It was very funny, and everybody was doing Johnny Cash impersonations.

Anyway, after the first Ring of Fire we had Packard Goose, Cosmik Debris, Peace Corps, Baltimore, Inca, Advance, Disco Boy, Teen Wind, Bamboozled, Torture, No Heart, Love of My Life, Tiny Lites, Pound, and Stairway. A very healthy set.

Then, we went away and came back and did Ring of Fire again, and then Bolero. Then, we went away and came back and did Joe's Garage, and Why Does It Hurt When I Pee? Then, we went away and came back and did Ring Of Fire, yet again, Walrus, and of course, a very totally Ring-Of-Fired out Illinois Enema Bandit. It was really funny. Vivian was there and she liked it too.

Uh, I have to nab the itinerary here briefly and see what happened after Wurzburg. [MK shuffles through some papers singing] "Every time"....That is the Pet Shop Boys you are hearing in the background, sorry to say.

OK, according to this thing, there was no hotel. That means we drove to Bremen through the night. I seem to recall doing that. And where did we stay in Bremen? At the CP Plaza, huh? Doesn't ring a bell...I have no memories of the CP Plaza. You will have to check Vivian's diary for that. Neither do I have any memories of what we did in Bremin. [chuckles]

Uhh...the Bremen soundcheck consisted of another new chart, a new trumpet part, a medley of The New Song and Going To Hell. Oh, let's see...umm...[bam bam bam], Ride My Face To Chicago, and Sinister Footwear. [singing] "My heart starts missing a beat...every time...." Somewhere along here I started getting a little sick, and you can probably hear that in my voice, that I am a little sick. Not terribly sick now. I was fairly sick there for a couple of days, but I am feeling much better now, though, because of the wonderful room service here in where I am. In Helsinki. Vivian is out shopping right now, even though the language in this town is beyond belief.

Um, the secret words for Bremen were "Xenakis" and "uh-uh-ee-yuh-uh-ee-yuh- uh." Sort of like that. And the set for that night was Black Page, Advance Romance, Any Kind Of Pain, Find Her Finer, Peace Corps, Stick Together, My Guitar, Willie The Pimp, Montana, Tiny Lites, Pound For a Brown (with The New Song/Go To Hell medley in it), Cosmik Debris, Cruisin' For Burgers, Keep It Greasey, and Sofa. Really nice, really good show.

The first encore was Bolero and Crew Slut, second encore Joe and Pee, and final encore Peaches and Stairway. That was a great show.

Oh, wait! We apparently had a whole day off in Bremen. Let me turn this off while I think hard about what we did on our day off.

Now I remember what Bremen was like. It was very cold, and very sort-of gray, and almost like, almost modern, but not. The buildings were fairly worn, and it was like a city that wasn't quite thriving. And when we arrived there, it was on a Saturday. Saturday the 23rd of April, and everything was closed. We went to McDonald's and got a Big Mac, and we went back to the hotel and relaxed for awhile. And realized that we had to go and get something better to eat. And we went and tried to go to a steakhouse, but you needed reservations to eat there. So we went to a little restaurant nearby where Vivian had a Greek Gyros-type thing and a pita, and I had...can't remember what I had, but it was good. Hmm...some kind of sandwich. Oh! It was just a salami and cheese-type sandwich, but it was very delicious. And we wandered about the mall that was adjacent to the hotel, and couldn't really go for much in the way of walks, because it was quite cold. Vivian tried to think about doing laundry, and finding a laundromat somewhere in the town, but everything was closed on Saturday. It was just a closed kind-of place. Everywhere you went there was closedness. So, that was that. Ya-ho!

Then, the next day was when we did the show in Bremen, which I already talked about. OK, now we can move on to wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen!

We arrived, drove all night to get to wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen, and I think that was when I got sick, and as we pulled into Copenhagen, we saw Vivian out on the street. I think this was also when the two buses, when one of the two buses broke down, and we had to nab all the other band members, their bus was the one that broke down, they had to stop and get on our bus. So, we pulled into Copenhagen with all of the band members on one bus. And we also saw Vivian out on the street. She had just arrived in town when we arrived in town. We picked her up on the bus and we all went to the hotel together. I think that was Copenhagen. Probably this type of stuff is all in Viv's diary too, and between us, I would trust her more than my memory at this point. Copenhagen soundcheck: We did Sofa, Thirteen, old rhythmic-type thing, George Bush (which is The New Song with lyrics), Ring of Fire again, and Rhymin' Man (which is the song Frank just wrote for me - he told me on the bus ride to Copenhagen that he'd written a Johnny Cash-type song for me to sing, and Bob Rice kept telling me how that was a big step, to have a song written especially for you, and I'm sure that's true). And at the show that night in Copenhagen we did indeed perform...oh, the secret word was "airhose." That proves that that was the town where the bus broke down because that's what broke on the bus, was the airhose. Judy, Packard, Alien, Lies, Baritone Women, Any Kind Of Pain ("it brings the bus ride to a thrilling conclusion"), Jesus, the Beatles Medley, and Sofa, and then there was a break, unfortunately. And then Torture, Find Her Finer, Big Swifty (in which I did a very strange solo which the next day Harry Andronis told me he thought was really great), Bamboozled, and Bolero. And, the day before, that reminds me, the night before in Bremen, I had a solo, the first solo in Pound For A Brown, which was extremely well-received by the audience. And, I guess that means that before the show in Bremen, in the hotel room, that's right, Ole came up. Ole, who's the major Frank Zappa fan-club, tape-collector-type guy in the world, in the hotel and spoke to me for awhile. Took my picture and all kinds of weird stuff. And, uh, all right! Now things are starting to make more sense.

This tape is not in chronological order, the events on it, but if you pay attention you can actually discern what has occurred on this tour.

And the second set, as I started to say, or maybe continued saying was: Torture, Find Her Finer, Big Switfy, Bamboozled By Love, and Bolero. The first encore was Peaches and Stairway. The final encore was Green Genes, Pogen, Andy, and Inca! How's that for an encore? And it was a great show, definitely a great show. Killer on the final encore, and just very interesting moments. The instrumental portion, the Big Swifty portion, was very unusual, and different, and odd, and interesting. And a good one. I'm sure that there might be some good tapes coming from it, hopefully. I say hopefully because after that, or shortly after that, we lost the use of the recording truck for at least awhile, including tonight in Helsinki, which, for obvious reasons, is pretty tragic.

After Copenhagen, let me check the old itinerary and see what our travel-type thing was. Oh, according to this, we did the bus thing after the show in Copenhagen, and went to Lund. Oh, no, that's not true! We slept and did the bus/ferry thing the next afternoon. So we stayed at the, of course! At the Com Frederick in Cophenhagen, which was kind-of a crummy hotel, with a weird shower that wasn't too clean. And this was pretty much the peak of my sickness, in the hotel in Copenhagen after the show that night. I went back and found that Vivian had done all my laundry by hand. It was hanging up all over the room, and that was very nice of her. And Dweezil was the guest VJ on MTV that night, and he was showing his video, "My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama," every hour, and that was really funny. Unfortunately, I was sick, and eventually just kind of fell asleep after hours of tossing and turning and getting out of bed and trying to make myself healthy. The next day, I woke up feeling better, and we took the bus and the ferry to Lund.

Lund, which is in, heh heh, Sweeden. And at the Lund soundcheck we did Sofa, and Thirteen, and Rhymin' Man, and a medley from The Mystery Disc, Box 2. Wedding Dress Song, and Handsome Cabin Boy. We started working on that, really pretty, really nice. Just a quartet version, Frank, Scott, Chad and me. And uh...

[knock knock] Oop! Someone at the door, hold on. Yes?
Vivian: Hello, it's me!
MK: Oh, it's Vivian!
Vivian: Open, open!
MK: Come in.
Vivian: We have to go at 3:30?
MK: I'll be back.

[This episode transcribed from the tape by Chris Opperman.]

Next episode:
MAY 2 1988

Last episode:
APRIL 21 1988

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