Neil Jacobs
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Neil Jacobs


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The best kept secret in music


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World Blue
American Gypsy
Cold Fish


Feeling a bit camera shy


Neil Jacobs is truly a master of the 12-string guitar. With his own style of playing that the St. Louis Riverfront Times calls “mesmerizing” and the Austin Chronicle describes as “the rockin’est since early Leo Kottke”, Neil covers the full spectrum of styles and dynamics. Touching on music as diverse as Gypsy, World, Balkan, Jazz, and Finger-style guitar, Neil maintains his own refreshing and energetic style. A self-taught musician, Neil draws inspiration from his world travels and experiences. Most Recently, his focus has been the Gypsy music of Eastern Europe and the folk music of the Balkans.

Neil Jacobs has had a colorful and unconventional musical career. In 1984 his group toured with acts such as Spyro Gyra, Alan Holdsworth, and Jeff Lorber performing original music considered ahead of its time. The enigmatic “Cold Fish” CD is the product of this period. After disbanding the group in 1985, Neil began soundtrack work on Academy Award winning filmmaker Will Robert’s film, “American Rebel”. While attending the Moscow Film Festival in the Soviet Union, Neil was invited to perform for the legendary Russian composer, Tikhon Krennikov. Neil was thereby invited to stay in Moscow, performing at Moscow University, Mosfilm Studios, and Gorky Park, as well as being selected to represent the U.S. as a member of the Cultural Delegation to the World Youth Festival in Moscow. Neil returned to Berlin in 1986 to perform on the major television special, “Un Seine Leider”, featuring Eastern Bloc superstar Dean Reed. This surreal “Eastern Bloc Cowboy Show” proved to be Dean’s final performance, for soon after he met with a mysterious death. “The Wall” fell, and Neil returned to L.A. to work on independent films.

After the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, Neil’s fascination with Eastern European folk music drew him back to Europe. Traveling by train with a backpack and two 12-string guitars, Neil was invited to perform throughout Europe. He played for Polish army and school children in Olstyn, Poland, the rejuvenated club scene in Prague, villas in Italy, war-torn Zagreb, Croatia, Slovenia, and Macedonia. At this time Neil became fascinated with the music of the Gypsies.

In 1992, Neil was invited the American Balkan music and dance ensemble, Zivili* to compose and arrange Gypsy compositions. Neil continued performing with the group to study the rich musical heritage of the Southern Slavic nations. During this time, Neil became proficient at various authentic folk instruments including, prim, sargia, brac, mandocello, and bugaria, while adapting rare Gypsy music to the 12-string guitar. In 1993, after attending one Neil’s concerts, Secretary to the President of Hungary, Laszlo Regeczy-Nagy invited Neil to Budapest to perform. Neil found Budapest an inspiring environment, and remained there to compose much of his “World Blue” CD. In 1994-95, Neil was selected as a cultural representative to Spain, thereby performing throughout Spain, as well granted the opportunity to study Gypsy music of Seville. During this time Neil spent his nights, escorted by his Gypsy guide, experiencing the back-alley clubs and the Gypsy culture. In 1996, Neil returned to the war-ravaged Balkans on an extended bus tour performing for refugee camps and orphanages throughout Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia, culminating in an emotional concert with Zivili in central Sarajevo.

Upon completion of his third CD, “American Gypsy”, Neil began a whirlwind tour performing at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Capitol Steps in Washington D.C., toured Italy and the Czech Republic, and accompanied “Zivili” on UNESCO’s Balkan Youth Reconciliation Seminar in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Neil’s most memorable performance was at the Gypsy camp at Plovdiv, a Gypsy community of over 30,000. Neil continues to tour nationally with “American Gypsy”, solo, and also with Zivili, while continuing to work on his fourth CD, scheduled to be released in December.