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Local musician talks about the agonizing need to make music | Arts and Entertainment

When he was a teenager growing up in Buffalo, Gilbert Neal stayed out of trouble by joining bands and playing music on the weekends, pretending they were the Beatles, Rush or King Crimson. Neil’s father passed away when he was six years old, so for most of his youth he was just him and his mother.

Their funds were small, so it was not much of a surprise when his mother responded to an advertisement for him to work as a musician in a downtown lunch theater, broadening her range of musical tastes to include the now popular pieces of musical theater.

“I digested a huge amount because every season I had to learn a new show,” said Neil. “So there were four or five, like Hello Dolly and Oklahoma. Not that I’d rather listen, but you can’t help but feel these things if you’re open-minded.”

In 1999, Neal left the Northeast after convincing his wife that Chapel Hill would provide a much better music scene. He immediately formed a group. What he may have lacked in self-confidence and unbridled talent, he made up for in ambition. He soon became disillusioned with his bandmates, who considered being in the band more of a hobby.

He found himself at a crossroads of sorts, simultaneously asking himself why he was wasting his time if he would never become famous, and wondering what he was going to do with all the music he had in his head.

“Why don’t I just take the music that I have, do my best and see what comes out of it,” he said. “So, that’s when I recorded my first album.”

This was in 2006. Since then, Neil has released five more people. His seventh album titled “I’ll See You When I See You” was released on May 20 and Neil describes it as “about Russia and how we often struggle for recognition in our homes so we go to talk to people from afar “. earth.”

Neil has said that his musical style was greatly influenced by the structure of musicals – first big, then moderate, and then ballad. His albums, like the musicals, provide information about his upbringing. These are not scripts or linear stories, they follow a form.

Neil’s talent is obvious, but his ambition is most evident. His songs are polished and skillfully produced. You can’t retreat in familiar territory because it’s easy. Each of his songs tells the listener that you need to go ahead and stretch your legs, because this is a new journey.

There are clips for many of his songs, also created at a level that will surprise most. In the video for “Vapor Girl” from his new release, Neil sits staring alone, oblivious to a Russian woman talking on TV just inches from him. Lighting, scenery and movement are the perfect companions for the song.

The attention to every detail of the music and how it’s presented contrasts surprisingly with his struggles over why he’s making music at all.

“If I could, if I could cut off what makes music in my head, I would do it tomorrow,” Neal said. “Because it’s not a passion. It’s a disease. It’s a disease. I will never get rid of this. I spend so much money that I don’t have on these things. Like a living diary. Maybe what motivates me the most is the fact that I don’t know anything about my father, but my kids will find out about me.”

So why release albums? Why not just fill notebook after notebook with homework? For all his seemingly pessimistic views about his chances of wide success, Neil sincerely appreciates and finds satisfaction and happiness when someone else likes his music. If, having thrown his work into the world of listeners, one of his songs gets to someone, he can swallow this medicine for all his ailments. And that can’t happen if his music ends up only on his laptop.

Gilbert Neal’s music is created through Wampus Multimedia. To learn more about Neal, go to www.wampus.com/gilbert-neal/. His music can be heard on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon. His videos can be viewed on YouTube.

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