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Oldies But Goldies: An Early Lael Neale Interview

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(With a new album just released and an apparently excellent concert last week introducing it here, here is a step back to January 2011, when rock nyc’s Woody Fuller interviewed Lael Neale on a trip to the West Coast -IL)

rock nyc please meet singer, songwriter, and amazing friend of mine, Lael Neale, (cool looking name, huh?), who’s YouTube music was reviewed by Iman a few days ago and she has subsequently been selected to participate in the “Muse and Music” series presented by Anacoustic Mind, which will kick off with a Mike Ogletree performance at The Society for Mechanics and Tradesmen in March.

Today, I take you mano y mano with the artist herself, with The Rolling Stones blasting in the background, I had the opportunity to sit down and thoroughly dig into the woman behind the pretty face, angelic voice, sweet lyrics, surging with such amazingly positive energy, Gandhi would cringe in his grave.

“Long hair, don’t care,” had been my motto for the last nine months, not once touching my locks since early May, but sometimes you just need some change. And a wise man did once say, “If you’re not thinking change, you’re not thinking.” Lucky for me, a blessing in disguise showed up at my doorstep to offer me, “the best haircut ever,” something that even I couldn’t turn down. So, Lael began to cut my hair, and I began to talk her ear off..

Inspired to sing at an early age by the likes of Dionne Warwick, Lael admitted to pulling the classic, “sitting in front of the mirror, singing into a comb” move, but hey you gotta start somewhere. Another past great, Joni Mitchell inspired her to pick up a guitar at the tender age of 12; she hasn’t put it down, and all thanks to that “powerful woman.” Thanks to Lael’s parents she grew up with the likes of Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and the Dead running through her veins.. just to under better understand the ammo behind this heavy but sweet artillery.

Me: Ok, so lets start from the beginning, ( as i topped off my glass of Merlot), When? Why? How? You. Music. Go!

Lael: Well, I began to take my music seriously in high school. Played some cover songs for a long time, but then finally got around to writing my 1st..

WF: What’s it called? Can you play it? You are holding a guitar..

LN: I don’t remember it, (liar), it was called “Burro in Bolivia,” though. I wasn’t the biggest fan of it. I studied poetry, and English/lit in college, but then found myself taking a break from that and out in California at a family ranch, and I was writing quite a bit. I finally orchestrated my favorite song to date, “I Can’t Love,” it was an amazing experience.

(“I can’t love” is on Lael’s newest CD)

WF: Do you consider yourself a poet?

LN: Not really…

But then we listened to some of her music

WF: I beg to differ.. I think you’re a poet, and don’t even know it, ( I thank you). I write poetry sometimes, friends say I should try to write music.. but I just can not do that.

LN: It is not about you. It’s about letting it flow though you. I mean, it is YOU. It’s your emotions.

WF: What emotions were “flowing” when you were writ..

LN:It’s like someone else was writing it for me. But its still all my emotions, how I was feeling, they come out and ARE that song.

At this point I am starting to understand this young lady a bit better, I am really connecting with the song writing process she is describing. As a “writer,” I sometimes feel that same why, and it is some what hard to explain, but she nailed it and I dig it. We went on some extreme tangents at this point, most of which I can not share with you today.. I’ll save it for a rainy day.

WF: You left school in St. Marys MD and..

LN: Long story short.. I left college for love.

The love of what? You decide.

WF: What was your first experience in Cali?

LN: Many people were eager to work with me. Some guy was interested in my songs and wanted to record.. needless to say those songs don’t exists anywhere, and I snapped each of those Cd’s myself..

WF: Ok sore subject.. you didn’t like that music.. I think you need an IV of confidence in yourself, cause its amazing, and you need to share that ish with the world..

LN: Then I made 20+ songs over the next two years working with a few different bands. I wasn’t really liking the sound of some, so I began making music with friend Trevor.

Trevor Garrod plays the keyboard, guitar, and sings for San Fransisco band Tea Leaf Green, who has been jamming and putting out a steady stream of Cd’s since the 90’s.

WF: How long have you been playing with Trevor?

LN: Well, its actually a funny story. I went to a TLG show when I was in high school, and really dug their music. I continued going to shows whenever I was out in California, and one day I found myself back stage, met Trevor, he invited me to the studio, went to a party.. and the rest is history. We
make a lot of music together, and its, by far, my favorite music that I have ever made. He is playing down to his full potential when he’s playing with me, but he loves it, and he produced my new CD, ( and I have copy, so I will review it in the near future). He is one of the best song writers I have ever worked with.

WF: You move alot. You play alot. You sing alot. Whats next in the life of Lael?

LN: I want an awesome band to play with. I want to shy away from solo stuff. And like any real musicians I just want to play and write more.

And just as “Sympathy for the Devil” comes on again, I decide it time to end our engaging conversation.

Simple enough. She wants to play more music, she wants to write and express, she wants to love, she wants to be her. Personally, nothing makes me more excited than watching musicians who are so pumped and enthused, grow and develop and take advantage of the wonderful and fortuitous opportunities that are attracted to them by the power of their hard work and dedication to their love and passion.

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