CD-245 Tom Neal "Banjoland"
I've been waiting for this album for a very long time.
The first time I heard Tommy Neal play was at a jam session in Baltimore in 1976, and I became a lifelong fan. The ’70s was a decade of wide open experimentation in bluegrass and in particular the banjo. The melodic style was in full force and outside musical influences were clearly evident.
Meanwhile Tommy's firmly traditional background guided his playing toward a strong Scruggs/Crowe approach. However, his keen musical ear was open to any and all banjo styles past and present. If there was an intriguing element in any great player's music, Tommy would capture it with remarkable accuracy. What struck me right between the ears about Tom's playing was his beautiful sense of phrasing and blending of the major banjo styles—Scruggs ,Reno, Crowe, Keith, Munde etc. All of those key ingredients are here for us to enjoy.
Recorded in three distinctly different sessions, we get to hear Tommy's wide-ranging style.
You'll notice throughout the album how he brings both traditional and contemporary touches to the music. Within these sessions we hear traditional Scruggs style, melodic fiddle tunes, Reno style, gospel, ballads, tasteful breaks, supportive backup and some especially fine original tunes. A real feast for the ears, this collection by Tommy Neal will leave us hungry for more. I'm already waiting for the next serving.
First I thank God for my wife Ruth who passed away suddenly. I loved her dearly and she loved my music. I want to honor her with this album, and I know she is smiling from above. Thanks to Tom Mindte for believing in me enough to produce this album, and for gathering together such a group of top notch musicians to help make it happen. Thanks to everyone who had a piece of the action on this project. I play a 1987 RB3 Gibson, with a no-hole nickel plated Huber tone ring on all songs except Rueben, and I thank Frank Schoepf for his mystery banjo on Rueben.