Beaucoup Jazz and Blues Festival – Tyler Neal Band

Tyler first began exploring music on guitar and drums, trying to emulate the Hendrix and Zeppelin hits he loved. He didn’t realize it until later in life, but he was also inspired by the gospel music he heard in church, more compelled by the spirit of a song than the technique. He found a mentor in drummer and composer Yonrico Scott (Derek Trucks Band, Royal Southern Brotherhood) who could see that the fire Tyler had for music needed fuel. Yonrico put words to many of the musical mysteries that had fascinated Tyler for so long, teaching him how to focus on rhythm (“the DNA of music”), and about the more conceptual aspects of songs – ways to compose, arrange and record that take a song from a set of lyrics and chords to a world unto itself. These were just a couple of the many revelations Tyler experienced under Yonrico’s wing, and he describes hearing Yonrico’s solo album Be In My World, and The Derek Trucks Band’s Roadsongs (on which Yonrico played) as “a musical rebirth.”

Tyler then entered the orbit of Col. Bruce Hampton. He started going to Bruce’s shows at Northside Tavern in Atlanta, and Bruce invited him to sit in…(“Come play with us tomorrow. Bring a bongo and a tambourine.”) Tyler dutifully obliged, and was soon playing with the Colonel regularly, first on the almost comical bongos and tambourine, then a larger array of percussion, then guitar. When Bruce invited him to officially join the band and go on tour, Tyler had no doubt the path Bruce offered was the one he belonged on. He spent the next two years as lead guitarist for Col. Bruce

Hampton & The Madrid Express. In how to relate to music and musicians, playing and travelling with Bruce was the deepest learning experience Tyler has had, affirming the Colonel’s belief that “the van teaches you everything.” Tyler says it instilled a set of musical ideals in him, “like when you grow up in a certain religion. It’s about how you listen for things. I’m not listening to how well people play, or skill, I just want to hear them. I want to play with people who play themselves. I relate to Bruce in a lot of ways, because he wasn’t really ‘good’ at anything except being himself.”

Since Bruce’s unexpected death in 2017, Tyler has been leading his own band and working on his first album of original songs. Joined by Yonrico on drums and fellow Madrid Express alumnus Frahner Joseph on bass, the album is being produced by Tyler “Falcon” Greenwell of Tedeschi Trucks Band. Tyler always knew he had to play music but didn’t always know why. The first leg of his musical path has made it clear, music is not just a project but a need. Like Bruce always said, “there’s a gun to my back and I have to choice. I have to play music. I’ve tried to quit but the universe won’t let me.” This has become a mantra for Tyler, always reminding him to push ahead in the face of doubt, and believe in music as his best hope to meet his best self.”