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A Day With Mike Keneally

Willie Oteri isn’t sure when he first heard Mike Keneally, but it was probably in one of Frank Zappa’s pieces. This is a little story about another fantastic musician who is brilliant, easy to work with and a lot of fun! 

As I write this the two have yet to perform together live, but the prospect is exciting. Oteri says that jamming with Keneally in the studio was a blast. “My first real experience with his playing was when he was tracking for Spiral Out,” says Oteri, “ When [producer] Ronan [Chris Murphy] and I were in LA mixing Spiral Out, Ronan mentioned bringing Mike in to add some keyboard. Mike drove up from his home in San Diego and knocked it out in a day.” Mike Keneally tacking keys at Veneto West See Spiral Out Photo Ronan Chris Murphy

Just like that? I was trying to dig for a story, and I pried Oteri for those awkward, dramatic, emotionally tense moments that we see in the movies. “He's a great player and good improviser,” says Oteri, “He's very creative, always re-inventing himself and plays guitar as well as he does keys.” There was nothing to see here except the priceless professionalism that producers dream about and some creative comedy.

I asked Oteri to tell me more about that day and what it was like to work with Keneally, “Mike was just like having one of the boys at your house for a jam. Very easy going, funny, great musical ideas.” I asked Oteri what stood out the most when he remembered Keneally that day, “His sense of humor,” Oteri explained, “There is a little secret about the track Lamont on Spiral Out. It was pretty much Mike's sense of humor that makes that track.”  

There’s at least four people who know exactly what Oteri is talking about, but you would have had to have been there, “Mike started singing a very funny line during the song so we recorded it and it's purposely buried in the mix.” I had to listen to Lamont again for myself. 

-Article written by KD Neeley

Mike Keneally (Frank Zappa)
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