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Published: 2011/11/21
by Glenn H Roth

Neal Casal’s Brotherhood: Ryan Adams, Chris Robinson and Onward

On a rare day off from touring, Neal Casal, the lead guitarist of Chris Robinson Brotherhood, spoke with Since March, Casal has played over 100 shows with the band, whose fall/winter tour ends with a four-night run at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall in mid-December.

In January, the band will enter the studio for the first time and record an album.

“It’s been trial by fire,” Casal said. “We jumped right into doing shows and been going non-stop since that time.”

Casal is used to having his days filled with music. As a kid, he was fascinated by Woodstock, the movie, and gravitated toward the folk sounds of Richie Havens, Arlo Guthrie and Bob Dylan.

“Richie’s moment impressed me,” said Casal, referring to Havens’ opening number of “Freedom,” “and moved me as a little kid.”

Then as a teen, Casal was moved by the bad boys of Britain.

“The Rolling Stones changed my life,” said Casal, “and made me want to play louder and inspired to me play music.”

After graduating from high school, Casal became a full-time musician at 19. The New Jersey native has also been a member of alternative country band Beachwood Sparks, rock n’ rollers Hazy Malaze and the popular Ryan Adams & The Cardinals (2005-2009). And Casal just wrapped up his tenth solo album Sweeten The Distance.

Casal’s grandfather on his mother’s side was a working musician. His grandfather played the drums in several jazz bands during the 1920s, 30s and 40s and kept a scrapbook documenting all of his travels.

“I didn’t know him that well and I never got to talk about music with him but it had to make its way to me somehow,” he said. “Somewhere in the bloodline.”

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