Mike Keneally

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Mike Keneally
Mike Keneally.jpg
Keneally performing in 2007
Background information
Birth name Michael Joseph Keneally
Born (1961-12-20) December 20, 1961 (age 53)
Long Island, New York United States
Genres Hard rock, progressive rock, art rock, melodic death metal
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar, keyboards, bass, drums
Years active 1985–present
Labels Barking Pumpkin, Rykodisc, Immune, Exowax Recordings
Associated acts Frank Zappa, Dweezil Zappa, James LaBrie, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Wadada Leo Smith, Ulver, Henry Kaiser, Prairie Prince, Andy West, Chris Opperman, Dethklok
Website www.keneally.com

Michael Joseph Keneally (born December 20, 1961) is an American guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist and composer. "With his wide-ranging talents and ability to be creative in almost any musical situation, Keneally is the leading progressive rock genius of the post-Zappa era."[1]

Early years and musical influences[edit]

Keneally started playing music at the age of 7 when he had received an electric organ for his birthday. He had also received a guitar on his eleventh birthday, and also plays bass and drums. His early childhood musical influences included The Beatles, and theme music from cartoon and television shows such as, "The Wallace and Ladmo Show" and "2001: A Space Odyssey".[2]


Born on Long Island, New York, he moved to San Diego, California, at an early age and has been a fixture on the local music scene there since 1985 when he formed the local cult band, Drop Control.[3] Although a well established musician in his own right, Keneally is probably most well known as former Frank Zappa "stunt guitarist" and a Zappa 1988 tour band member on both guitar and keyboards. His ascendency to that position is legendary in certain musician circles, based on Keneally's command of Zappa's vast and difficult-to-play repertoire.

Keneally had called Zappa and said that he was "extremely familiar with all of his material and that he would be ready to play any of it for him given a short amount of preparation time", as he had already "been listening to Zappa's music for 16 years". "On the phone the day before the audition Frank had told me to have "What's New In Baltimore?" and "Sinister Footwear" ready for the next day's audition". On the way to the audition Keneally practiced the aforementioned songs, as well as "Little House I Used To Live In", and "every single Zappa melody I could think of, kind of as an exercise for my memory" as his brother Marty was driving the car.[2]

Keneally's stint in the Zappa touring band was short-lived with the early cancellation of the 1988 tour and Zappa's death in 1993. Keneally moved on from the elder Zappa's band to work with the eldest Zappa son, Dweezil on his solo albums and work released as the band, Z.

Keneally has also released 11 albums of solo material since 1992 and has guested or acted as sideman on a wide variety of projects, most notably as part of Steve Vai's touring bands. He has played guitar and keyboards with Yo Miles!, Wadada Leo Smith, Norwegian legends Ulver and Henry Kaiser's Miles Davis tribute band as well as recording the 1995 album The Mistakes with Henry Kaiser, Prairie Prince, and Andy West (formerly of Dixie Dregs). He has also produced albums for several bands, including Chris Opperman's debut album, Oppy Music, Vol. I: Purple, Crayon.

In 1998 Vai requested that Keneally arrange and perform an album of Vai's music on acoustic piano. Recorded in 1999, the album was finally released in 2004 as "Vai: Piano Reductions, Vol. 1". According to liner notes, Vai selected the songs, produced the album, and mixed it, releasing it on his own Light Without Heat label. As of 2008 Keneally has arranged from multi-tracked guitar parts to single-track piano the 12 songs selected by Steve and begun work on a second volume of Vai "Piano Reductions".

On May 1, 2007, Keneally's Exowax label re-released his debut album "hat." and "Boil That Dust Speck" as deluxe, remastered double disc versions. Exowax has obtained Keneally's entire back catalog from Immune Records. Planned releases included "Half Alive In Hollywood" and "Sluggo!" as well as The Mike Keneally and Beer For Dolphins 1996 VHS release "Soap Scum Remover," which will be remixed and remastered for a DVD release, and The Mistakes, his 1995 side project with Henry Kaiser on guitar and Synclavier, bassist Andy West and drummer Prairie Prince), along with a live Mistakes recording that has been held on the side until Keneally was able to re-acquire the rights to the original album.

On November 28, 2006, Keneally announced that he was hired as National Music Director for The Paul Green School of Rock Music.

He has also toured with Dethklok as a guitarist and back up vocalist.

On July 20, 2008, at El Cajon, Calif., Mike played a concert as part of "the most exciting power trio in years," Keneally • Minnemann • Beller (KMB), consisting of Mike, drummer Marco Minnemann and long-time collaborating bassist Bryan Beller. The band undertook a full tour in 2009 and became Joe Satriani's worldwide touring band in 2013.

In August 2009, Keneally released a video for a new solo track, "Hallmark," from Scambot 1, the first part of a planned three-album series.

In June 2010, Keneally entered Skywalker Sound as part of the studio band for Joe Satriani's new solo project, along with regular Satriani drummer Jeff Campitelli and bassist Allen Whitman (of San Francisco's surf/psychedelic group The Mermen). This same lineup is scheduled to tour in October and November 2010 in support of the album, however Keneally was replaced by English keyboardist Jem Godfrey for 2 dates on the UK leg of the tour.

In July 2012, Keneally released "Wing Beat Fantastic: Songs written by Mike Keneally & Andy Partridge", a collaborative album consisting primarily of songs co-written with XTC's Andy Partridge during 2 writing sessions in 2006 & 2008, and of whose band and work Keneally has been a longtime fan (there is a small section of XTC's "Mayor Of Simpleton" in the song "Day Of The Cow 2" from his 1992 debut solo album hat.[4])

In August 2014, Keneally participated in the G4 Experience—a week-long guitar camp—with fellow guitarists Satriani, Paul Gilbert, and Andy Timmons.[5]

Current Mike Keneally Band line-up[edit]



  • hat. - 1992
  • Boil That Dust Speck - 1994
  • The Tar Tapes Vol. 1 - 1997
  • The Tar Tapes Vol. 2 - 1998
  • Nonkertompf - 1999
  • Nonkertalk - 1999
  • Wooden Smoke - 2002
  • Wooden Smoke Asleep - 2002
  • Vai: Piano Reductions, Vol. 1 - 2004
  • Wine and Pickles - 2008
  • The Scambot Holiday Special (download) - 2008
  • Scambot 1 - 2009
  • Songs and Stories Inspired By Scambot 1 - 2009
  • Wing Beat Fantastic: Songs written by Mike Keneally & Andy Partridge - 2012
  • Wing Beat Elastic: Remixes, Demos & Unheard Music - 2013
  • You Must Be This Tall - 2013

With the Metropole Orkest[edit]

  • The Universe Will Provide - 2004
  • Parallel Universe - 2004

With Beer for Dolphins[edit]

  • Half Alive in Hollywood - 1997
  • Sluggo! - 1998
  • Dancing - 2000
  • Dancing With Myself ... and Others - 2000

With The Mike Keneally Band[edit]

  • Dog - 2004
  • Pup - 2004
  • Guitar Therapy Live - 2006
  • bakin' @ the potato! (CD/DVD) - 2011

With The Mistakes[edit]

  • The Mistakes - 1995

With Marco Minnemann[edit]

  • Evidence of Humanity - 2010
  • Elements of a Manatee (download) - 2010

Videos and DVDs[edit]

  • Soap Scum Remover VHS - 1996
  • Dog Special Edition DVD - 2004
  • Guitar Therapy Live Special Edition DVD - 2006
  • hat. Special Edition DVD - 2007
  • Boil That Dust Speck Special Edition DVD - 2007

Compilations featuring Mike Keneally[edit]

Year Album Track
1995 Tales from yesterday : a view from the south side of the sky (Yes) Siberian Khatru' (under the name Stanley Snail)
1997 Giant Tracks: A Tribute to Gentle Giant No God's a Man
2002 156 Strings: Nineteen Totally Original Acoustic Guitarists Thou Shalt Not Kill
2003 A Fair Forgery of Pink Floyd Astronomy Domine
2006 After the Storm: A Benefit Album for the Survivors of Hurricane Katrina Time Table
2013 $100 Guitar Project Hi Ma

Frank Zappa recordings with Mike Keneally[edit]

Recordings with other artists[edit]

Year Artist Album
1986 Burning Bridges "Yayo" (Accretions flexi-disc)
1987 James Morton "Let's Make Rhythm!"
1990 Dweezil Zappa "Confessions"
1991 Buddy Blue "Guttersnipes and Zealots"
1991 Solomon Burke "Homeland"
1991 Mark DeCerbo "Baby's Not In The Mood"
1991 Screamin' Jay Hawkins "Black Music For White People"
1991 James Morton "Rock Studies For Drum Set"
1991 Andy Prieboy "Montezuma Was A Man Of Faith" (EP)
1991 Andy Prieboy "Blood and Concrete" (Original Soundtrack)
1991 Earl Thomas "Blue Not Blues"
1991 Zappa's Universe "Zappa's Universe"
1993 Marc Bonilla "American Matador"
1993 Screamin' Jay Hawkins "Stone Crazy"
1993 Negativland "Negativconcertland" (Bootleg CD)
1993 Z "Shampoohorn"
1994 Screamin' Jay Hawkins "Somethin' Funny Goin' On"
1994 Jip "Glee"
1994 Marcelo Radulovich "Marcelo Radulovich"
1994 Earl Thomas "Extra Soul"
1994 Robert Vaughn and the Dead River Angels "Robert Vaughn and the Dead River Angels"
1995 Kevin Gilbert "Supper's Ready" (Magna Carta Genesis tribute album compilation)
1995 Matthew Lien "Bleeding Wolves"
1995 Stanley Snail "Tales From Yesterday" (Magna Carta Yes tribute album compilation)
1995 Ultra 7 "Trummerflora" (Accretions compilation)
1995 Z "Music For Pets"
1996 The Hooligans "Last Call"
1997 Mark Craney & Friends "Something With a Pulse"
1997 Faux Pas "This One's For the Children"
1997 The Ed Palermo Big Band "The Ed Palermo Big Band Plays the Music of Frank Zappa"
1997 Steve Vai "G3 - Live in Concert"
1997 Steve Vai "Merry Axemas - A Guitar Christmas"
1998 Chris Opperman "Oppy Music, Vol. 1: Purple, Crayon."
1998 Ultra 7 "Trummerflora 2" (Accretions compilation)
1998 Steve Vai "Flexable Leftovers"
1999 Mullmuzzler "Keep It To Yourself"
1999 Mullmuzzler "Six Pack: Multi-Artist Radio Sampler"
1999 Marcelo Radulovich "2 Brains"
1999 Neil Sadler "theory of forms"
1999 Kevin Gilbert, Stanley Snail "Tribute to the Titans" (A Sampler of Great Performances from Magna Carta's Tribute Series)
1999 Steve Vai "The Ultra Zone"
2000 Screamin' Jay Hawkins "Best of the Bizarre Sessions: 1990-1994"
2000 Screamin' Jay Hawkins "New Coat of Paint: Songs of Tom Waits"
2000 Nigey Lennon & John Tabacco "Reinventing the Wheel"
2000 The Loud Family "Attractive Nuisance"
2000 Chris Opperman "Klavierstücke"
2000 The Persuasions "Frankly A Cappella - The Persuasions Sing Zappa"
2000 Steve Vai "The 7th Song"
2000 Dweezil Zappa "Automatic"
2001 James LaBrie "Mullmuzzler 2"
2001 NDV (Nick D'Virgilio) "Karma"
2001 Trummerflora Collective "No Stars Please"
2001 Steve Vai "Alive In An Ultra World"
2001 Lyle Workman "Tabula Rasa"
2002 Napoleon Murphy Brock "Balls"
2002 Steve Vai "Elusive Light and Sound, Vol. 1"
2002 Andy West and Rama "Rama 1"
2003 Bryan Beller "View"
2003 Willie Oteri "Spiral Out"
2003 Steve Vai "Mystery Tracks - Archives, Vol. 3"
2003 Steve Vai "The Infinite Steve Vai: An Anthology"
2004 Ossi Duri "X"
2004 Chris Opperman "Concepts of Non-Linear Time"
2004 Henry Kaiser & Wadada Leo Smith "Yo Miles! Sky Garden"
2004 Chain "chain.exe"
2005 Anthony Curtis "Book of the Key"
2005 Henry Kaiser & Wadada Leo Smith "Yo Miles! Upriver"
2005 Chris Opperman "Beyond the Foggy Highway" (Live 2002 - 2004)
2005 Mike Portnoy "Prime Cuts"
2005 Ulver Blood Inside
2005 Andy West and Rama "Drum Nation, Vol. 2"
2007 Various Artists "Healing Force: The Songs of Albert Ayler"
2007 Anthony Setola "Interstellar Appeal"
2008 Bryan Beller "Thanks In Advance"
2010 Joe Satriani "Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards"
2011 Todd Grubbs "Return of the Worm"
2011 Bryan Beller "Wednesday Night Live"
2012 Joe Satriani "Satchurated: Live in Montreal"
2012 Bear McCreary "Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome Soundtrack"
2013 Joe Satriani "Unstoppable Momentum"
2013 Dethklok "The Doomstar Requiem"


  1. ^ Allmusic Mike Keneally|Allmusic
  2. ^ a b "Mike Keneally Interview". Guitarhoo!. Guitarhoo.com. June 25, 2004. Retrieved March 7, 2013. 
  3. ^ Mendoza, Bart.Mike Keneally: Stunt Guitarist Creates his Own Genre San Diego Troubadour . 2010-01. Retrieved on 2010-11-15.
  4. ^ "Mike Keneally Takes XTC For New Full-Length (Drops July 24)". San Diego Reader. 2012-07-17. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  5. ^ "4 Days of Guitar Pleasure". The G4 Experience. 2013-10-17. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 

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