Sunday Big Note – Listening Session #4

Anyone familiar with Frank Zappa’s 1988 band is no doubt familiar with the unique guitar and lyrical stylings of multi-instrumentalist Mike Keneally, that band’s “stunt guitarist“. It wasn’t very long after the demise of Dweezil and Ahmet Zappa‘s band ‘Z’ that Keneally formed his own recording and touring band, Mike Keneally & Beer for Dolphins. It was around this time that I seriously took an interest in the music of Mike Keneally, who some critics consider “a leading progressive rock genius of the post-Zappa era.”

Any cursory listen to Keneally’s albums, particularly his 1999 release, Nonkertompf (an instrumental tour de force with Keneally playing all musical instruments), is eclectic and playful enough to keep the most avid Zappa fan thoroughly enjoying him or herself.

But don’t just take my word for it.

For this Sunday Big Note I bring you Mike Keneally & Beer for Dolphins at The Wetlands in New York City, New York, on October 23rd, 1998 (plus several live bonus tracks also from the late 90s):

Intro (The Wetlands, NYC, NY, 23 October 1998)

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Cardboard Dog (The Wetlands, NYC, NY, 23 October 1998)

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Looking For Nina (The Wetlands, NYC, NY, 23 October 1998)

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Top Of Stove Melting (The Wetlands, NYC, NY, 23 October 1998)

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Killer Fish (The Wetlands, NYC, NY, 23 October 1998)

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We Got A Bass Player Too! (The Wetlands, NYC, NY, 23 October 1998)

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Pretty Enough For Girls (The Wetlands, NYC, NY, 23 October 1998)

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Taster (The Wetlands, NYC, NY, 23 October 1998)

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Pencil Music (The Wetlands, NYC, NY, 23 October 1998)

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My Dilemma (The Wetlands, NYC, NY, 23 October 1998)

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Potato (The Wetlands, NYC, NY, 23 October 1998)

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Inca Roads (The Wetlands, NYC, NY, 23 October 1998)

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Bonus Tracks:

Lightnin’ Roy (Upstair’s At Nick’s, Philadelphia, PA, 25 Oct 1998, Late Show)

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Cowology (The Bottom Line, NYC, NY, 18 Apr 1996, Early Show)

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Uglytown (The Bottom Line, NYC, NY, 18 Apr 1996, Early Show)

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‘Cause Of Breakfast (The Bottom Line, NYC, NY, 18 Apr 1996, Early Show)

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Cheddar (Ground Zero, Spartanburg, SC, 20 Oct 1998, Late Show)

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The Wreakage Was Large (Ground Zero, Spartanburg, SC, 20 Oct 1998, Late Show)

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The Car Song (Ground Zero, Spartanburg, SC, 20 Oct 1998, Late Show)

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Inca Roads (Ground Zero, Spartanburg, SC, 20 Oct 1998, Late Show)

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Line-up:

Mike Keneally – guitar, vocal
Bryan Beller – bass
Marc Zieganhagan – keyboard
Jason Harrison Smith – drums
Bob Tedde – guitar, vocals
Peggy Totzke – vocals
Frank Briggs – drums (18 Apr 96 only)

For newbies to the music of Mike Keneally & Beer for Dolphins, they released four albums under that moniker – Half Alive in Hollywood (1997), Sluggo! (1998), Dancing (2000), and Dancing With Myself: Live and Acoustic at The Baked Potato (2000) – before Keneally (and Beller) moved on to the Mike Keneally Band and other various assorted solo projects. I suggest you skip, hop or jump over to MooseMart – Your Source for all things Keneally – and pick yourself up copy (or download) of something before they’re out of print again. Or, Hell, buy it all (like I did)! Then again, I can never, ever, get enough Keneally. I know I’ll be pushing my walker around the old KUR-Meister’s Home (Barry Towers Home for Aged Freaks and Zappaphiles) before Mike Keneally ever tours Canada…

9 Responses to “Sunday Big Note – Listening Session #4”

  1. Kevin Hoover says:

    I like Mike.

  2. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Kevin Hoover:

    I like Mike.

    I’m glad someone else at Barry Towers likes Mike! In all the time that I’ve been posting here at KUR I’ve been disappointed at the responses my Keneally posts have generated. If anyone asks me, both Keneally and Vai are the real creative heirs of the post-Zappa era.

  3. Jeroen says:

    I’m not sure about Vai, actually, but I love Mike. I think he has the same ecclectic weirdness as FZ, and he brings some genuine human warmth to his music, something that was always lacking in FZ’s music (humorful as it was). Some FZ can sound cold, right after playing Mike.

  4. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Jeroen:

    I’m not sure about Vai, actually, but I love Mike. I think he has the same ecclectic weirdness as FZ, and he brings some genuine human warmth to his music, something that was always lacking in FZ’s music (humorful as it was). Some FZ can sound cold, right after playing Mike.

    I think Vai sometimes gets a rough deal because, at times, his music might not seem to have, as you say, the same “genuine human warmth” that Keneally’s does, but I would never mistake style with intent, either. All one need do is listen to Piano Reductions Vol. 1 to realize how much actual warmth Vai’s compositions have. Perhaps sometimes Vai’s guitar work doesn’t always consistently put that warmth across (just as some of FZ’s latter solos and compositions lacked to do so as well).

  5. Matt says:

    I love how Mike throws in part of Montana in the solo on Cowology. Very cool.

  6. Hermann Schindler says:

    For me it’s not a missing warmth in Vai’s music but the standstill. He’s the most brilliant guitar player but I fear he’s seduced by his skills. He needs a composer to drive him further. No envelope pushed in the last too many years.
    Mike is moving on! Love his music!

  7. Mike Pierry says:

    I think I was at the Wetlands show. I was definitely at the Bottom Line show. I’ve seen Keneally live more times than I’ve seen any other performer. It’s always a great time.

    Urbangraffito, I’ve thought the same about Vai and especially Keneally for many years. What do you think of Scambot 1?

  8. Mike Pierry says:

    Hermann, have you listened to the Real Illusions: Reflections album? It’s got some really interesting compositional things going on. I think with Vai, he’s such a perfectionist that it takes him forever to put things out and thus we aren’t getting a full picture of his abilities. For the past 10 years he’s mainly been putting out live albums, anthologies and archival material, so it’s hard to judge how he’s progressing as a composer.

  9. Numpty says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMV_KViSnC8

    Best thing Vai’s done by far ;-)

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