Neil Jacobs

Neil Jacobs


Neil Jacobs is truly a masterful performer on the 12-string guitar. The St Louis Riverfront Times describes as "mesmerizing", the Austin Chronicle as "the rockin'est since early Leo Kottke". Neil covers the world vibe with with his Gypsy, World, Balkan Folk, & Modern Fingerstyle 12 string.


Neil Jacobs is truly a master of 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 a full spectrum of styles and dynamics, touching on music diverse and varied as Gypsy, World, Balkan Folk, Jazz, and Fingerstyle guitar, while maintaining his own refreshing energetic style of playing. A self-taught musician, Neil draws inspiration from his world travels and experiences. His most recent focus includes the Gypsy music of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, which is showcased in his third CD "American Gypsy", in which he draws from his first hand knowledge of Eastern European Gypsy, Balkan and World Folk music to create his riveting compositions. The "American Gypsy" CD was nominated "Album of the Year" in the 2001 "American Independent Music Awards". Neil studied with the Gypsies of Spain as part of a special cultural exchange grant in 1994, the same year he was voted "Outstanding Folk Instrumentalist" at the Columbus Music Awards. He then resided in Seville, Spain for over a year before returning to Columbus. He then joined the acclaimed Balkan group, Zivili**, on an amazing refugee camp tour of the war-torn Balkans, including performances in Croatia, Bosnia, and Sarajevo. As a result of this experience, Neil produced his more pensive second CD, "World Blue". In 2003 accepted a temporary teaching position as Associate Professor of Gypsy/Balkan music and history at Alfred University in New York. In 2005 released the critically acclaimed solo CD, "Secret Places" . Neil is currently touring while also continuing work on his latest CD project.

Neil Jacobs has had a colorful and unconventional musical career. In 1984 his "fusion" group, Coldfish toured with acts such as Spyro Gyra, Alan Holdsworth, Janis Ian, Jeff Lorber, and the late Herbie Mann performing original music considered ahead of its time. The enigmatic debut CD is the product of this period. After disbanding the group in 1985, Neil began work on Academy Award winning filmmaker Will Roberts' film, "American Rebel", which deals with the incredible life of expatriated American and Eastern Bloc superstar, Dean Reed*. 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. During his extended stay in Moscow, Neil befriended Dean Reed, and later that fall fhey attended the Denver International Film Festival premier of "American Rebel". Dean invited Neil to Berlin in 1986 to perform on his popular yearly television special, "Mann Aus Colorado" (later to be re-named "Und Seine Lieder" after his untimely death). Neil's guest performance on the TV special was seen by audiences estimated in the hundreds of millions. This surreal Eastern Bloc Cowboy Show, “Und Seine Lieder”, proved to be Dean's final performance, for soon after he met with a mysterious and controversial death. Tom Hanks is now in negotiations with DreamWorks to topline and produce the studio's project, "Comrade Rockstar", based on the life of the late rocker Dean Reed.

When the collapse of the Eastern Bloc became imminent, 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 rode the trains to Poland to perform for Polish Army bases and school children of small villages in Northern Poland. Neil was invited to perform at the Bahaii Institute in Switzerland and later journeyed to Zagreb, Croatia during the early stages of the bloody Balkan war. He based out of Zagreb and rode the trains to perform in Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, and Macedonia. In 1992, Neil was invited the American Balkan music and dance ensemble, Zivili**, to compose and arrange Roma (Gypsy) inspired 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, tambura, brac, and bugaria, while adapting rare Gypsy music to the 12-string guitar. Neil returned to the Balkans as part of an international cultural delegation to perform for displaced victims in refugee camps and orphans from the Balkan war. The tour culminated in a final emotional performance in war ravaged central Sarajevo. In 1996 Neil was invited to Hungary as special guest of the Secretary to the president to perform concerts in Budapest. In 2000 Later Neil traveled to Bulgaria with Zivili** as part UNESCO's "Balkan Youth Reclamation program" performing for youth groups of various Balkan co


CD Releases:
American Gypsy, Secret Places, Cold Fish. & World Blue