Lil Ray Neal
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Lil Ray Neal

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States
Band Blues


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The best kept secret in music


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Raful Neal, III, born March 16, 1960, third eldest of ten siblings, in Ervinville, La., a small country/rural hamlet, outside of Baton Rouge, La. Lil Ray began his musical odyssey as a child surrounded by his father, Raful Neal, Jr., a regional favorite harmonica player and vocalist and father’s his band and friends, who played the “chittillin’ circuit.” Louisiana was and is, a plethora of all types of music and musicians, blues, cajun zydeco and jazz influences, with blues overshadowing all others in his household.. Raful Neal, Jr., Lil Ray’s father, played on weekends, at a store that was owned by Lil Ray’s uncle, called Spooners, that sold liquor sort of under the table. At night, after the gig, the band would sometimes go to Raful’s and Lil Ray, would sneak into his dad’s friend’s van and try to play his guitar, he would end up breaking the strings and putting the guitar back in the case as if nothing had happened. He was 12. By age 15, he was backing his father in the band, who proved to be a hard task-master, but who also, gave him what he would need to survive as a musician on the road. The family, by then, had moved to Baton Rouge. In 1976, he formed the Neal Brothers Blues Band ,that included two younger brothers and his older brother. At age 19, he played every Saturday for a local blues radio station in Baton Rouge and was a local favorite. One night his father’s band members didn’t show up and the young Neals stood in for the band, backing their father. After playing behind him for a about 8 years. other opportunities awaited. By age 20, he struck out to Canada to play with his older brother, Kenny Upon returning, he got the opportunity to go on the road with Lil Milton Campbell. He was with Lil Milton for 6 years. Subsequently, he has played with Big Mama Thornton, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Bobby Bland ,and Bobby Rush. He was on the road with Bobby Bland for 5 years. His style is a mixture of his own and some of the greatest blues musicians in the world, that mentored him. On the road for more than 10 years, he became road weary around 1998 and decided to take a hiatus and return home, to Baton Rouge to be with family. Now, he’s back! With a dynamic sound and band and history and experience to back it all up. Now dubbed, “the gentle giant” of the blues, he’s ready willing and able to provide a blues sound that will take your breath away and send you to a place of long ago or the here and now, depending on your mood. His motto, “nothing but the blues” is for blues officianodos, that love and study the blues, it’s origin and it’s discipline, those that understand the soul of the music. Don’t look for any rock licks in his playing, he plays nothing but the blues. His prowess and understanding is surpassed by none. The depth and the emotion is duplicated by none. He is the road warrior for the greats in this genre, on the circuit today. There are no others of this generation of blues musicians that have mastered the blues guitar as he has. The tradition of the greats is being carried on through him. Those that have gone on (“got their hat”) would be very proud to know that he keeps the tradition alive.
2007 Winner Baton Rouge Blues Challenge
2008 Winner International Blues Challenge, 3rd
2008 Winner Lil Milton Guitar Award for Best Blues
Blues Guitarist of the Year