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MiKe TypEs To YOU!

Chatfield Manor, poolside
6:13:08 PM on September 19, 2000

This is a real nice day today. Gorgeous day! No complaints here.

Let’s talk some more about Nonkerstock, sez me! For anyone just now stepping onto the moving sidewalk at Keneallyland, this here was an event which took place in San Diego in early August: three days of music enthusiasts cavorting by the sea, culminating in a fan-sponsored Mike Keneally & Beer For Dolphins performance (with opening acts Chris Opperman and the Random Factor, Disguising Godiva, Gary Cox and Mike ‘n’ Jesse). It’s still hard for me to comprehend that it happened, it feels like a dream. People who like my music came from all around the country and two other countries to attend this thing - unbelievable. When I stepped onstage to begin my portion of the show, I was unfortunately feeling mopey for reasons unrelated to Nonkerstock (and which I shouldn’t have let get to me so much, silly me), and dealing with those feelings simultaneously with the outrageous outpouring of affection and good will from the audience made me all kind of wickly, and then also trying to process the fact that this amazing thing was happening at all…I couldn’t speak! Bonk! Fortunately I could still play (and sing — I’d come close to blowing my voice out pretty badly over the previous two days of rehearsal so I was lucky to be able to sing at all for youse) and I expressed myself semi-adequately that way I hope. What I was trying to express was: "Thank you. I love you for being here and for appreciating my music so much, this weird-ass music which I never really believed anyone would appreciate back when nobody appreciated it but my family. I can’t believe you all came from so far away and went to so much trouble to be here. Wow. Yay. Thank you! Yay! Do I deserve this?" I was real happy with our performance that night (although I still haven’t been able to listen to or watch any of the recordings of it. Such emotions coursing through me that night! And I still wish I hadn’t heeded the last-minute request for "Inca Roads," which is a great song but was an anticlimactic ending to this particular show; I was thrown by getting a sudden message that we had to wrap it up in a few minutes, about half an hour before I was expecting to have to stop playing. Performus interupptus — it’s yucky when that happens).


Next day now — 2:26:26 PM at home, in bed with the new PowerBook 1400c which I only had to go back to the used Mac place four times to get one that worked. Computers make my soul freeze, just like cars and discussions about gear.

Just had a really rewarding, lengthy conversation with a publicist who is getting extremely in tune with what we’re trying accomplish over here. Yay!

Huge changes in my life lately. I’m feeling very good.

I’ll be more specific (I’ve established a pattern of openness [within reasonable limits!] through this forum, and I like the idea of being honest with you. Some people have suggested to me that what I’m about to say is none of your business, but I’m going to tell you anyway): Viv and I amicably separated a few months ago. Viv and Jesse and I still see each other all the time and we’re all doing fine (Jesse is amazing. She’s RIDICULOUSLY perceptive and cool and understanding and you need not worry about her). I’ve moved into a new home with a marvelous woman named Sarah Crochet. We’re happy as clams and crazy in love. There is always a great deal of sadness attendant to the end of a long marriage and this one is no exception, but trust me, things around here are a lot healthier than they were prior to the separation. I remain powerfully grateful to Viv for all that she’s done for me and I always will be grateful.


And now it’s the next day again! 12:39:01 AM. Spent the last several hours watching the Olympics (which I love to do — I enjoy EVENTS) and spent a good portion of the day and the last couple of days playing acoustic guitar, writing little things. Getting deeper into music and enjoying what my hands and heart can do when I let them. Some of the Olympic performances have been extremely inspirational, particularly the gymnastic bits where they just have a huge expansive blue mat to bounce around on and go nuts with the music playing. When I’m playing guitar sometimes I imagine each note I play corresponding to one step on a blue mat and try to deliver each note with the same care and diligence and purpose and dignity that the best of these athletes convey.

Man, I’ve seen some amazing performances in the past few months — I was immensely delighted by the Steely Dan and Todd Rundgren shows I saw a couple of months ago. I wanted to write an essay for noneforyoudear.com called "Worldwide Epiphany" regarding those shows and the feeling they gave me that something really good was in the air musically, but I didn’t have time to write it. Basically though I was so inspired that Todd and the Dan, after decades of doing music in public, were so visibly and audibly inspired on the nights that I saw them, so eager to do excellent work and make powerful, beautiful music. WOW, were these guys rejuvenated. The live arrangements of old Dan material were severely fantastic, and I adore their new album. And Todd I’ve simply never seen singing and playing with more passion than I saw in that last show. Who the hell’da thunk it? I felt that both shows tapped into the spirit of music real powerfully, just as I felt my band did so wonderfully during the sessions for "Dancing." Listen, I hope you all enjoy the album, REALLY I do, because the experience of making it was nothing short of magical and I hope that that feeling makes its way through the speakers to you. I love this album.

I want to write a couple of things about what I did with Henry Kaiser recently…first there was the Kaiser/Keneally show at the Freight and Salvage in San Francisco, a week after Nonkerstock. I was nervous, again! I had been real nervous at the acoustic gig at the Baked Potato which yielded the live disc for the "Dancing" special edition, playing the new songs for the first time, and I felt similarly nervous at the Freight. I started the show solo on piano and vocal which was funny because all the advance pieces I’d read about the show seemed to indicate that it was going to be an avant-garde guitar extravaganza. Nope! I didn’t think I was connecting with the audience particularly, which made me distracted when I sat down with the guitar to play "Live In Japan" which is why I forgot the words — also I just didn’t feel like playing that song just then, and I totally abandoned the set list, which was a good thing to do. Once I just started relaxing and doing whatever I wanted, I felt the audience relax along with me. It ended up being a lovely evening with some truly blazing moments once Michael Manring, Bob Bralove and Neil Sadler took to the stage — playing "Don’t Be Denied" and "Words" by Neil Young was cathartic (and unrehearsed! Which I trust you’ll notice if you hear tapes of the show. Also, after we played "Veteran’s Day Poppy" by Captain Beefheart, Henry accused me — audibly, on stage — of counting the time wrong, which I huffily denied. I was wrong! Sorry guys! I was zoning during the song and playing it in a way which really felt good to me [adding a quarter note to the end of each phrase], which wasn’t how it was written…very disrespectful to Van Vliet and confusing to Henry, Michael and Neil who were trying to follow me! ). Richard Thompson’s "Shoot Out The Lights," which I’d just learned that day, was a moving thing to sing and play. And I always, always, love watching Henry play. He amazes me.

Then there was the Yo Miles! experience. This, folks, was one of the most fulfilling things that’s ever happened to me. Here was the band: Henry Kaiser, Chris Muir and myself on guitars; Wadada Leo Smith on trumpet; Greg Osby on alto sax; John Tchicai on tenor sax; Tom Coster on keys; Michael Manring on bass; Karl Perrazo on percussion; Steve Smith on drums. And some special guests: Zakir Hussain on tabla, David Creamer on guitar and the ROVA Saxophone Quartet. We recorded something in the neighborhood of 16 hours of music in five days, based on the late sixties/early-to-mid seventies Miles repertoire, plus some amazing original pieces from Leo. Henry’s editing it down to four CDs worth of stuff.

Such musicianship to be surrounded by. My head was spinning. Tom Coster (who played keys during my favorite era of Santana’s history, the "Welcome"/"Lotus" era) is an incredible keyboardist and such a fun person to be around. I told him he was like my favorite uncle; my funny, cool uncle who I would always be happy to visit when I was a kid. He got it. Steve Smith on drums — he’s so in touch with time it’s ridiculous — he sees the groove floating above his kit and steps on at just the right time and it’s THERE, huge and solid, ready to rock along with, as dependable as sunshine. And he, like me, LOVES to play with time, with subdivisions, and he brought out things in my rhythm playing that I never knew were there (as did the compositions themselves). Greg Osby — what an inspiration, what a lesson in excellence and quiet dignity. He’d play the most divine alto solo you could imagine, then saunter into the control room afterward with such elegance and understatement. No need to crow about his accomplishment, he’s just doing his job. I was powerfully inspired by Greg. EVERYONE involved in the session was an absolute delight as a person as well as an inspiration and a total motherfucker as a musician, and I’ve got more to say about the other guys but I’m going to sleep now! ‘night all!


Hoody heedy hoody ha! 10:44:00 AM, ‘morning!

Continuing on with the Yo Miles! participants…I know sometimes it reads like I’m trying to be an equal opportunity complimenter, like making sure all three girls in the Charlie’s Angels movie have a precisely equal amount of closeups, but oh well! I feel like it! Karl Perazzo I hadn’t been aware of before. He’s a percussionist, currently with Santana, and Henry had told me "wait ‘til you hear him — VERY musical. Very musical." Is he ever. He has that marvelous ability to just know what is needed and provide it right away. He and Steve Smith were the powerhouse duo, their positive energy and forward momentum were totally infectious. Karl has the "spark" as a person — very funny and very spiritual too. Great guy who I’m thrilled to have hooked up with. And what on earth can you say about Michael Manring? Angels are just flying out of that man’s bass constantly. We’ve done enough projects together now that the connection between us is getting nice and solid. I look forward to more. Michael’s fantastic. Betcha by golly wow he is.

We take a break from the relentless praise for this announcement. Actually, I guess this is more praise but at least it’s for something else: "Almost Famous," the new Cameron Crowe movie. Fantastic movie! (It’s a good thing this isn’t real "writing" or else I’d be self-conscious about redundant superlatives.) I saw it a few days ago with Scott and Karen and Sarah and it made me want to go on the road about 400% more than I wanted to before seeing it. Sarah said it was because the 16-year-old groupies in the movie inspired me somehow but nah, that’s not it — it was that first scene of Stillwater on the stage and the shots of the audience. It really is a great, great thing to connect with an audience and I’m ready to do more of it. Sordid details following. Soon!

Saw "Nurse Betty" recently too — extremely enjoyable film, utterly engaging, but my fondest memories of it have been unfairly crowded out by "Almost Famous." Some of the scenes with Morgan Freeman and Chris Rock flash back strongly when I focus my attention. They’re fantastic! I finally saw "Magnolia," and boy, that movie is sticking with me big time. Did it strike you that the main theme is "the horrible shit men do"? There’s plenty of countermelodies as well though. Fantastic movie! Redundant superlatives are go!

I’m going to sign off on this MTTY for now because it’s long enough! I’ll finish praising my Yo Miles! cohorts, discuss our show at the Fillmore, deal with sundry other things and do my big discussion of "Dancing" in the next MTTY, coming surprisingly soon.

Loving Orange Crush SO much these days, I remain your friend,