Country Dick Montana

2023 Lifetime Achievement Award


There is no debate. Mike Keneally is one of the most gifted guitar players performing today. How else could you describe someone who legendary musician Frank Zappa himself hired as “stunt guitarist” for his 1988 world tour?

Keneally was born on December 20, 1961 on Long Island, arriving in San Diego as an eight-year-old already in love with music, and a budding keyboardist. Just a few years later, his acquisition of a guitar at age eleven set him on the path to becoming a globe-trotting musician and seeker of adventurous sounds.

Starting out in the mid 1980’s, Keneally quickly established himself locally with his band, Drop Control, soon coming to Zappa’s attention and international acclaim. What would be the pinnacle of some careers, for Keneally was only the opening salvo in an impressive music making run, now heading into its fifth decade.

It’s impossible to pigeonhole his music or performances, as Keneally continually pushes boundaries. Just three highlights along his timeline would include his collaboration with XTC’s Andy Partridge for the album Wing Beat Fantastic in 2012, road trips with cartoon metal band, Dethklok from 2007-2016, and multiple appearances on albums by both Steve Vai and Joe Satriani.

In addition to session work, Keneally continues to perform his own music, as on his most recent album, The Thing That Knowledge Can’t Eat, as well as with groups such as Beer for Dolphins or Bird Brain, each release highly anticipated by his fans around the world.

This year the San Diego Music Awards are proud to honor the accomplishments of Mike Keneally, with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Past Lifetime Winners

2022 – Jesse Davis
2021 – Jerry Raney
2020 – Richard Livoni
2019 – Joe Flammini
2018 – The Paladins
2017 – Wayne Riker
2015 – Peter Sprague
2014 – Tomcat Courtney
2013 – Daniel Jackson
2012 – Mike Wofford
2011 – The Penetrators
2010 – Iron Butterfly
2009 – The Zeros
2008 – Mundell Lowe
2007 – Nick Reynolds (of The Kingston Trio)
2006 – Jimmie & Jeannie Cheatham
2005 – Charles McPherson
2004 – Joe Marillo
2003 – Jack Tempchin
2002 – Al Guerra
2001 – Jack Costanzo
2000 – Lou Curtis and Barney Kessel
1999 – Frankie Laine
1998 – Joey Harris and Mike Halloran
1997 – Tim Mays & Harlon Shifmann
1996 – Jim McInnes
1995 – Dave Hodges
1994 – Malcolm Falk

Special Industry Achievement Awards

2021 – Liz Abbott / The Troubadour
2015 – Louie Procaccino
2014 – Candye Kane

2023 SDMA Awards Sponsors

  • San Diego Reader
  • Revolt Wine Co.
  • Cutwater Spirits
  • San Diego Union Tribune
  • Taylor Guitars
  • Bud Light
  • Any Budget Printing & Mailing
  • Filippi’s PIzza Grotto