I met Neal when he moved into the closet under the stairs in the apartment I shared with Wendy back in our Berkeley days. He just had a twin bed on the floor and a handful of plaid shirts, a Rhodes keyboard and a bunch of drums wrapped up in blankets. He recorded City Songs at home over the course of just a couple weeks. The record features guitar, keyes, maracas, cymbals, and tambourine, some clapping and hooting—everything but the drums he loves best. It reminds me of dancing around a May Pole, and of finally reaching home in California.

His next album, To The Breathing World, came a few years later after thorough gestation. It’s all drums and voice. And hooting.

Neal’s from Nevada City, and that’s what his location ought to read. But he lives in Portland when he’s not out touring, at times with Joanna Newsom, or contributing to the election of our next worthy public official.

The photo you see here was taken by Alison Schmidt.

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