This will be a fun one! Paul Gilbert’s Great Guitar Escape, with Andy Timmons, George Lynch, Greg Howe, Greg Koch, Gretchen Menn, Jared James Nichols and your humble narrator, me!
It’s been three years since I did anything of this nature (that was the 2019 G4 Experience), and it definitely feels like time to do it again. I love these guitar camp deals – having a few days to stretch out and share information and community with a bunch of fine music lovers is a pleasure and a blessing.
(What an amazing group of players has been assembled for this event! Paul and Andy were both present at the first G4 in 2014, and I just loved playing with them and hanging out – they both share my Todd Rundgren obsession, and we would try to stump one another with Todd lyrics and trivia out back behind the venue between sets. I’m gonna suggest to them that we work up at least one Todd tune for next year’s craziness.)
First off: thank you for being here, and for reading this. It is absurdly appreciated, I promise you!
I just turned 60 three days ago. My bro (breau breaux) Marty is here at my and Sarah’s place, and we are having a superfine holiday season. Egg nog is involved, as are craft beers and four Christmas trees of various sizes, but similar shapes. “Get Back” has been rewatched with my brother and it is just as overwhelming upon rewatching as it was upon first-viewing.
I’m feeling healthy and grateful to be such. Just got my booster shot five days ago, I was fatigued and achy for a very short while but within 54.5 hours I was at least 78% back to normal. I will home-test before my kid and their gang troop up here for Christmas, just to confirm that this residence is a copacetic, non-Omicronian zone.
I was thinking of calling the new double-album I’m trying to finish 60, with an Adele-style glamour shot on the front. Should I do that? Are people who buy Mike Keneally albums likely to be familiar with Adele’s album-naming and cover-photo conventions? Well it makes me chuckle, anyway. The album is coming out next year, it says here. I’m tantalizingly close to finalizing the last mix on disc one. After New Years’ I will re-tackle the second disc, which I’m estimating to be about 80% finished right now.
Disc One is a tight collection of nine mostly vocal tracks (also includes one instrumental featuring Steve Vai, and another featuring the Minipole Orkest) lasting about 42 minutes. Disc Two is a sprawling collection of mostly instrumental tracks which I will struggle mightily to keep under 80 minutes in length.
I’m feeling reflective re: 2021. Right now with the ‘cron doing its thing it feels more than mildly miraculous that we in the Zappa Band were able to wing around the U.S. opening for King Crimson. That really happened, and it was incredible to be able to do it. It feels like even more of a privilege now that it’s officially known that that was the last U.S. Crimson tour, and evidently the last Crimson tour, period. What a legacy that band and Robert have created. Just amazing!
Several albums that I worked on in 2020 at home have seen release this year. It’s gratifying to have sounds I created at home on my humble little recording rig be winging around the world on these very fine artists’ new releases.
I co-produced the album Other Worlds by The Android Trio, a group of brilliant players who first encountered one another in either The Grandmothers of Invention and/or The Magic Band. The music they make on their own is a fascinating combination of knowing homage to classic experimental/progressive music of the past, and entirely uncategorizable modern strategies. I like this quote about it: “The wonderful new album from Android Trio is a thrilliant ride, Max Kutner, Eric Klerks and Andrew Niven, virtuosos all, is serious progressive rock in every sense… I love this, it sounds big, it thinks big, it is big.” – The Organ (UK) (I am now a new fan of the word “thrilliant.”)
The artist who is enigmatically known only as “Pawlie” has created his fourth album An Ape’s Progress, and I was honored to be asked to play guitars and/or keys on nine of its ten tracks. A collection of extremely thoughtful and beautifully melodic tracks, it was a real pleasure to be a part of it. As it says on Pawlie’s Bandcamp page for the album (which is here: https://pawlie.bandcamp.com/album/an-apes-progress) “Pawlie’s fourth album consists of ten new songs built around one central theme: Homo sapiens (the “ape”) and its ongoing struggle to survive and evolve here on its home planet.” All the playing, performing and writing is wonderful (among others, Lyle Workman and Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. also take part). Check it out please!
Devin Townsend asked me to take part in his albums The Puzzle and Snuggles – he also asked something like 60 other people, so these aren’t albums where you’ll necessarily be able to ascertain the contributions of any one participant – these are sound assemblages which present two very different views of Dev’s reaction to the pandemic. Puzzle is more chaotic and Snuggles is comforting. Both are absolutely remarkable achievements, 100% worth your time and attention. I’m always grateful for any opportunity to create with Dev – please delve into these extraordinary new releases, in a variety of exciting formats: https://devintownsendshop.com/
In fact, right now I’m working on a special mix of the three piano tracks and string synth track I recorded for Snuggles. Separated from the rest of the music, they form their own 43-minute ambient composition. After I finish this mix I’m going to upload for my patrons at Patreon. I’ve been sharing a lot of exclusive audio and video at Patreon, along with other visual items and our once-or-twice-monthly livestreams, which has been ridiculously fun (lately I’ve been doing a lot of live playing during the streams). Please consider joining us there: https://patreon.com/mikekeneally (Remember, no matter what tier you join, you’ll have access to all of the exclusive material I’m posting at Patreon. All of it, including recordings of the past two-hour livestreams, are archived and available for your ongoing enjoyment. After a year-and-a-half it’s already turned into an immense archive, and I’m not stopping now.)
I’m in the midst of planning a lot of live appearances next year, with at least six different acts. Will they happen? It’s real hard to say. There’s four more nights of The Zappa Band at the Baked Potato in February, and the Paul Gilbert Great Guitar Escape in Pomona in July. There is touring in the works for at least three different bands, including an April tour with a fabulous collection of musicians playing some tunes you know real well, and an appearance on Cruise To The Edge with someone else you know real well, hopefully a Zappa Band U.S. headlining tour later in the spring, European summer gigs with the Mike Keneally Report, and I’d love to do Beer For Dolphins touring in the fall, and there’s this OTHER band I’ve been working with in secret since 2015 and we’ve just completed our first three studio tracks which we would love to play live…will it all happen? Who can say? All we can do is plan optimistically and hope for the best, so that’s what I’m doing.
I wish us all the best with our 2022 plans, and I wish every one of you a profoundly happy and healthy holiday season!
An IndieGogo campaign for “THE COMPLETE ADVENTURES OF THE UNRELATED SOUND GUY” (a film inspired by five songs from my next album)
Mikko Keinonen is a very wonderful Finnish filmmaker. He hired me last year to play the piece “Mating Dance” for the closing credits music of his film DUUS.
(As it happens, you can watch a video of me playing this very “Mating Dance,” at the very popular video streaming hub YouTube.
A point of potential interest: practicing this piece for a week in order to prepare for this video destroyed my fingers, particularly the area just under the nails to such an extent that I couldn’t even dare dream of playing the guitar for, like, eleven days at least. Was it worth it? HA! 168 entire likes on YouTube [as of this typing] say that it WAS, bucko!) (Although that guy in the comments who says it’s a “really bad Bill Frisell imitation,” yeah I guess that stings a bit. But hey, you know — YooouTube commenters, am I right? AM I RIGHT?)