Mike Keneally has released many different kinds of albums over the past few years – the rock/pop studio opus Dog, the orchestral The Universe Will Provide, the solo piano Vai Piano Reductions Vol. 1, the acoustic Wooden Smoke – so it's not surprising that the people who know him primarily as a rock guitar virtuoso might be a little confounded when it comes to categorizing Keneally's solo work.
Keneally has never shown much interest in categories, but he has prepared a new live album which is the closest thing to a "Rock Guitar album" he's yet offered. In mid-2005, Keneally felt an irresistible calling to assemble his dream-lineup Mike Keneally Band, and take to the road for the first time in years. So Mike, bassist extraordinaire Bryan Beller, sublimely Zen guitarist Rick Musallam and impossible drummer Joe Travers took to the road on the Guitar Therapy tour. Those who saw the shows were floored by the power, precision and concentrated emotion they experienced. The group left the stage most nights knowing something magical had happened. This is GUITAR THERAPY LIVE, which is destined to find favor with guitar enthusiasts, lovers of powerful and adventurous rock and jazz, and jamband fans alike.
Long acclaimed as one of the world's most creative and intense guitar players, Mike Keneally's talents as a vocalist, songwriter, arranger, producer and multi-instrumentalist are nearly unequalled in rock music. Keneally has released 13 albums of his original music since 1992, and has built a body of work of remarkable inventiveness and originality.
Keneally played in Frank Zappa's last touring band, performing as a vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist. He's appeared on many Zappa albums, and has also recorded or performed with Robert Fripp, Wayne Kramer, XTC, Kevin Gilbert, Steve Vai, The Loud Family, Henry Kaiser, Greg Osby, Joe Satriani, Michael Manring, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Tony Levin, Mullmuzzler, Shankar, The Persuasions and many others.
Contrasts mark Mike Keneally’s work and add intrigue to everything he sets his hand to. In an ongoing quest for musical challenges, his stunning versatility and talent for lending an expressive, attention-grabbing depth to many differing projects, Keneally has earned reverence from many of the very artists who once influenced his work growing up: He was a prominent feature of the last group ever led by the legendary Frank Zappa, who commented quite significantly that Mike was "the best new guy who's ever been in the band." Guitar legend and Keneally’s sometime-collaborator Steve Vai asserts that Mike is a genius, while Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson called Mike’s band the finest that had ever opened for Tull in their 30-odd years of touring.
Enhancing his virtuosity on so many instruments is Keneally’s sheer joy in exploring all types of sounds—he is equally at home singing and playing guitar with some of music’s top acts as with improvising or meticulously arranging solo piano recordings. Yet whatever the context, Keneally’s music is striking and identifiably warm, his songs captivating and fresh, and his live show jam-packed with moments of head-spinning delight. GUITAR THERAPY LIVE captures all of this in a way never before heard on CD.
The MIKE KENEALLY BAND is
MIKE KENEALLY - lead guitar, keys, and vocals
BRYAN BELLER - bass and backing vocals
RICK MUSALLAM - guitar and backing vocals
JOE TRAVERS - drums
Bassist Bryan Beller has been Keneally's right-hand man since 1993. He's toured and recorded with Wayne Kramer, Steve Vai, Mullmuzzler and many others, and in 2004 released his acclaimed solo debut View. Bryan's skills are unparalleled -- he and Keneally share a relentless telepathy with one another, and they often perform live as an acoustic duo.
Guitarist Rick Musallam has toured extensively with the Ben Taylor band and played on studio sessions for The Roots and Gwen Stefani. Rick's soulful, melodic playing is a beautiful foil to Keneally's high-energy abstract stylings.
Joe Travers is one of the most virtuosic, relentless and jaw-dropping drummers on the scene. He played with Keneally and Beller in the early '90s, but this is the first time Joe has toured playing Keneally's music. He brings an energy to Keneally's music which is intense yet playful. Joe is also the trusty Vaultmeister of Frank Zappa's massive tape storehouse, coordinating continuing releases of the late genius' material.
Here is an excerpt from Mike Keneally's liner notes to GUITAR THERAPY LIVE:
"GUITAR THERAPY LIVE documents of a bunch of musically voracious old friends touring together as a group for the first time, so the vibe is giddy. There are a lot of notes. No doubt I'll be shuffling into calmer areas as I continue this damned aging business, so here's an album of our band while we were bringing the rock, and I was overplaying on every single solo (except "Machupicchu").
The music is taken from three shows we did in 2005. Most of the songs are from The Baked Potato in North Hollywood, CA, on July 29. Other tracks are from the Sellersville Theatre in Sellersville, PA on June 18, and Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, NC on September 4. Each of these venues is solidly vibey and quite beautiful in its own way, so thank you to everyone who allowed us to play at these places.
Just as the lead singer of Hoobastank admits to the world, in song, that he is "not a perfect person," so do we gleefully concede that this is not "perfect" music.
There's only one perfect artist anyway – Charles M. Schulz, of course.”
GUITAR THERAPY LIVE is also available as a SPECIAL EDITION CD + DVD double-disc set. This edition is a signed, numbered run of 3000 copies, and is only available through www.keneally.com. The DVD features over two hours of the Mike Keneally Band playing live at the legendary Baked Potato club, North Hollywood, CA, on July 30, 2005 (including a hidden cover of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song").