It’s a family affair with Kenny Neal

Tahoe Onstage

Kenny Neal and the Family Band plays a private party at South Lake Tahoe earlier this week. The band is at Squaw Valley tonight for Bluesdays.
Photo by Conrad Buedel

It’s real: Kenny Neal will be in The Village at Squaw Valley tonight for Bluesdays.

How did Neal get to be the band leader? He was born first.

Kenny Neal and the Family Band is based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. All 10 Neal siblings grew up to be professional musicians, and Kenny is the eldest. He was backed by his brothers on Bluesdays show of the summer in 2016.

Kenny Neal plays guitar, harmonica and sings. Frederick plays keys, Graylon plays drums and Darnell is the bassist.

“It’s good to keep it in the family and also we get along and love each other,” Neal told Tahoe Onstage. “I can’t fire them and they can’t quit.

“I am always asked how do we stay together. We’ve got to answer to our mom. We never need a manager. If something’s not right, she can get it all straightened out quick.”

In the Neal family, learning music is like learning to walk or talk. The patriarch was Raful Neal, a bluesman whose band included guitarist Buddy Guy before he moved to Chicago.

“I don’t even remember learning this stuff,” Kenny Neal said. “I got it from my dad. I remember crawling up his legs and grabbing the harmonica out of his hands or picking on his guitar. He would tell me stories of him trying to practice and me trying to grab the equipment out of his hands.

“When we got older, and the kids started joining football teams and baseball teams, we started putting bands together and making music on weekends with our dad. So we didn’t have much of a chance to do any baseball playing and football playing. We are all self-employed and play music. So my dad left behind something for all of us.”

The Village at Squaw Valley
6 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays
Aug. 7: Kenny Neal and the Family Band
Aug. 14: Chris Cain
Aug. 21: Terry Hanck
Aug. 28: Coco Montoya
Sept. 4: Cedric Burnside Project

About Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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