Tyler Neal Band
"Nothing To Lose"
June 7, 2017
Q&A: Atlanta musician Tyler Neal talks Bruce Hampton, The Madrid Express, new music
The Atlanta-based singer-songwriter and blues/soul guitarist was born in Anchorage, Alaska but grew up in Carrollton, Ga., where he taught himself to play guitar, play drums, sing, write music and produce songs. Neal eventually connected with Derek Trucks Band drummer Yonrico Scott, who helped develop Neal into a professional musician.
As the frontman of The Madrid Express, Neal supported the late iconic avant-garde guitarist Col. Bruce Hampton (interview with Hampton here) and has shared the stage and befriended members of several internationally recognized bands including The Allman Brothers Band, Widespread Panic and Dead & Company.
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