Neil Jacobs

Neil Jacobs


Masterful 12-string guitar, featuring fiery Gypsy, exotic world music, and everything from “Ravel’s Bolero” to the “William Tell Overture”. "Unimaginable richness thrown to the winds with complete abandonment - echoes of Django and other musics both modern and ancient"


Neil Jacobs is truly a masterful performer on the 12-string guitar. With his own style of playing that the St. Louis Riverfront Times describes as "mesmerizing” and the Austin Chronicle describes as "the rockin'est since early Leo Kottke". Neil covers the world vibe with music diverse and varied as Gypsy, World, Balkan Folk, Classical and Modern Fingerstyle guitar. Neil draws a great deal of inspiration from his world travels and experiences. His recent interests include the Gypsy music of Eastern Europe and the Balkans as demonstrated in his recent critically acclaimed release, “American Gypsy”. His most recent release, “Secret Places” showcases a collage of 12-string guitar compositions and styles. Neil is a featured artist in the Ohio Arts Council Touring Roster.

Neil Jacobs has had a colorful and unconventional musical career. From performances in refugee camps in Sarajevo, to appearances at the Kennedy Center and the Kremlin, Neil’s unique style with the 12-string guitar fascinates audiences and critics alike. His original compositions have more than a cross-cultural appeal, they also appeal to diverse musical tastes. With underpinnings of jazz, nuances of new-age, touches of flamenco, and strong leaning to Gypsy music of Eastern Europe, Neil’s self-styled “world music” performances have been described as “mesmerizing”.

In the early 1980’s, his group toured with such recognized acts as Spyro Gyra, Alan Holdsworth, and Jeff Lorber, performing original music considered ahead of its time. He also appeared with a diverse group of national and international performers including: Herbie Mann, David Bromberg, Janis Ian, Loudon Wainwright III, Scott Cossu, Flora Purim, Airto Moreira and Livingston Taylor. His first CD, the enigmatic “Cold Fish” is the product of this period.

In 1985, Neil began soundtrack work with the film “American Rebel: The Dean Reed Story,” for Academy Award winning filmmaker and producer Will Roberts. While in the Soviet Union with Roberts to attend the Moscow Film Festival, Neil was invited to perform for the legendary Russian composer, Tikhon Krennikov. As a result of that performance, Neil was invited to extend his stay in Moscow for appearances at Moscow University, Mosfilm Studios and Gorky Park, and was selected to represent the U.S. as a member of the Cultural Delegation to the World Youth Festival in Moscow.

During this time in Moscow, Neil befriended the highly controversial, international musical superstar, Dean Reed, the subject of Robert’s film. Their travels in Eastern Europe provided Neil with a fascinating introduction to the Gypsy and folk musics of Eastern Europe. In 1986, Dean invited Neil to Berlin to perform on his major television special, “Mann Aus Colorado.” Previous guests on this surreal “Eastern Bloc Cowboy Show” included Dean’s friend, Phil Everly. Neil’s performance on Dean’s TV special with an estimated audience of 300 million viewers, but proved to be Dean’s final performance, for soon after he met with a mysterious death.

Just a few years later, after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, Neil’s growing fascination with Eastern European folk music drew him back to Europe. Based out of Zagreb, Croatia during the early stages of the bloody Balkan war, Neil traveled by train with a backpack and two 12-string guitars to performances in Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, Macedonia, Switzerland and Italy. In Northern Poland he performed for school children in small and often isolated villages and at Polish Army bases.

In 1991, Neil was commissioned by the highly respected, American Balkan music and dance ensemble, “Zivili,” to compose and arrange Gypsy compositions, and 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 of Neil’s concerts, Secretary to the President of Hungary, Laszio 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, giving him both the opportunity to perform throughout Spain, and the unique opportunity to study the 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.

The journey through the refugee camps and bombed out former Yugoslavia was a dramatic and heart-wrenching adventure. Neil revisited villages in ruins that he had marveled at only a f


CD Releases:
World Blue
American Gypsy
Secret Places
Cold Fish
(all are available to listen to at

RADIO AIRPLAY 2006 includes the following:
(partial list - It is difficult to keep track)
99.7 "Sidestream" , Arthur Elliot, Brisbane
"Grassroots" Jennifer Flux, Woolgoolga, New South Wales

CJTR, "Six Strings and a Million Possibilities" - Regina, Sakatchewan
CKUA - Calgary, Alberta - "Folk Routes" Tom Coxworth
"6/12 Great Guitar Music" - Upper Galilee Radio
"Blue Moos"

"Whole Wheat Radio" Talkeetna SP
KEUL "It's All Folk" Glacier City
WLRN, "Folk & Acoustic Music" Michael Stock, Miami
KCCK - 88.3 FM, "Night Breeze", Mark Jayne
WYCE - Grand Rapids - various
KUMD - Univ of Minnesota, Duluth
"The Riverbank", Internet Radio, 'DJ Mudgie', Ken Anderson
C/O The Riverbank
215 Buffalo Street South
Belle Plaine, MN 56011
KOPN, "Morning Coffeehouse", Steve Jerret, Columbia
KDHX - FM 88.1, "Folks of the World" St Louis
KGLT Bozeman
"Music to Heal the Heart" Greeensboro
"Mystic Soundscapes" Internet Radio - Albuquerque
Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange Review, Mike Jurkovic - Nelson
"General Eclectic" WCVF - Fredonia
Jay Ungar & Molly Mason "Dancing on the Air" Albany
WAPS "Just Plain Folk"
WKSU "Folk Alley", David Fuente, Jim Blum
WOUB "Audiosynchracies" Rusty Smith, Athens
WYSO Yellow Springs
WYSO "Evening Excursions"
Jim McCutcheon, Centerville
WCBE "Toss the Feathers" Doug Dickson
WBGU Bowling Green Univ, David Sears
WRUW Cleveland
"Echoes" John Diliberto - Syndicated (multiple plays)
WCVE, "Electric Croude", George Maida, Richmond
KSER "Starlit Skies" Maya, Everett
WORT "Diaspora", Terry O' Laughlin -

"Cup of Music" Internet Radio


Set List

A typical performance is either a two set format consisting approximately of 2 - 45 minute sets, or 1 concert set of 75 - 90 minutes.
Due to my broad musical background, I have some flexibility tailoring my performance to my audience. I often begin my performances with Eastern European Gypsy and then move on to varying styles, depending on the audience. This might include: Celtic, Balkan Folk, Spanish Gypsy, mellow Fingerstyle, or Classical influenced music.
Some recognizable favorites include: "Ravel's Bolero", "In the Hall of the Mountain King", "Ghostriders in the Sky", and "The William Tell Overture"
Much of the program is original compostions, however.