Straight From The Heart Kenny Neal

Cover Straight From The Heart

Album info



Label: Ruf Records

Genre: Blues

Subgenre: Electric Blues

Artist: Kenny Neal

Album including Album cover Booklet (PDF)


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FLAC 48 $ 12.30
  • 1Blues Keep Chasing Me04:24
  • 2Mount Up On The Wings Of The King Feat. Christone "Kingfish" Ingram03:20
  • 3I'll Play The Blues For You04:52
  • 4Two Timing Feat. Tito Jackson04:10
  • 5Louise Ana Feat. Rockin' Dopsie Jr And The Zydeco Twister04:50
  • 6It Don't Cost Nothing04:29
  • 7Bon Temps Rouler Feat. Rockin' Dopsie Jr And The Zydeco Twister04:07
  • 8It's Been So Long03:01
  • 9Someone Somewhere05:50
  • 10I Got To Tell Somebody03:18
  • 11New Orleans04:06
  • Total Runtime46:27

Info for Straight From The Heart

Down in Louisiana, they do things differently. The Southern states musical giants have always had their own distinct recipe for American roots: spiced with jazz, steeped in swamp-blues and cooked up a little differently by every artist who performs it. As a second-generation child of the Bayou State, Kenny Neal has taken his own inimitable guitar, gale-force harp and roadworn voice all over the globe. But in 2022, the Grammy-nominated blues masters latest album, Straight From The Heart, finds him drawn by the siren call of his hometown and musical ground zero, Baton Rouge. Neal both led and produced a crack team of local musicians at his own Brookstown Recording Studios. All the tributaries of the blues converge here, flowing into one rich tradition. Lining up in the studio alongside his Baton Rouge compadrés, the respect that Neal commands on the scene also drew some special guests, including hot-tip blues sensation Christone Kingfish Ingram, pop royalty Tito Jackson, and two songs with Rockin Dopsie Junior & The Zydeco Twisters. You'll even hear Neals supremely talented daughter Syreeta drive the vocal outro of Two Timing.

“This is the first album I’ve ever recorded on my own turf, and it truly came straight from the heart,” says Neal, who both led and produced a crack team of local musicians at his own Brookstown Recording Studios. “All the tributaries of the blues converge here, flowing into one rich tradition.”

If there’s a guiding concept behind the eleven songs of Straight From The Heart, it’s Neal’s mission to wind back the reels of his life and channel the spirit of the music that crackled from the family record player in early years.

Neal couldn’t have picked better circumstances for his childhood. Not only was he born in New Orleans on October 14th, 1957 (a serendipitous flashpoint for any future bluesman). Better still, he quickly found an early inspiration in his father, the harp master Raful Neal, who blew a gale and moved in the same orbit as Buddy Guy and Slim Harpo.

Nature and nurture couldn’t help but rub off. At 13, Neal Jr was wowing the crowds in his father’s band; four years later, he was playing bass with Guy himself. His fabled period working with his siblings in the Neal Brothers Blues Band is still spoken of in reverential tones on the Toronto circuit whose roofs they blew off. But perhaps Neal’s true arrival came in 1988, when his first solo LP was reissued by the Alligator label as Big News From Baton Rouge!! and ears pricked up for a modern swamp-blues master who had the touch and voice of an old soul, but the vision and hunger of a young gun.

Stick a pin in Neal’s discography since then and you’ll strike gold, from 2008’s Let Life Flow (which shook up his playbook with a dose of Memphis soul) to 2016’s Bloodline (which not only scored a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album but won two Blues Music Awards). From Neal’s W.C. Handy Blues Award of 2005 to his 2011 induction into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, few contemporary artists are more decorated.

You’ll hear all of Neal’s travels in Straight From The Heart, but this latest album brings it all back home in every sense. Lining up in the studio alongside his Baton Rouge compadrés, the respect that Neal commands on the scene also drew some special guests, including hot-tip blues sensation Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram (who co-writes and plays stinger guitar on "Mount Up On The Wings Of The King"), pop royalty Tito Jackson (on "Two Timing") and two songs with Rockin’ Dopsie Junior & The Zydeco Twisters. You’ll even hear Neal’s supremely talented daughter Syreeta drive the vocal outro of "Two Timing."

“It was like a family reunion,” says Neal of the good-natured sessions. “It was excellent because I had all the musicians that grew up under me here in Baton Rouge. And just being in my own studio, not worrying about the clock.”

Straight From The Heart is a fitting title for a record that salutes the many loves of Neal’s life. There’s the brass-driven opener "Blues Keep Chasing Me," which tips a hat to his recently departed friend, Lucky Peterson. There’s the touching piano-led "Someone Somewhere," which salutes the beloved father who put him on this path. Elsewhere, Neal’s deep love for every side of his home state is underlined by the zydeco chop of "Bon Temps Rouler" and "New Orleans," whose lyrics reference everything from “sippin’ on Hurricane” to “sittin’ on the Bayou catching catfish”.

Faced with such an open-hearted record, it’s impossible not to reciprocate. And as the world opens up and Kenny Neal embraces his natural habitat of the road, this Louisiana icon will bring a little bit of that Baton Rouge spirit onto every stage he treads. “It don't cost nothing to share a little love and a little respect,” he says. “And we can all rise above…”

Kenny Neal, vocals, guitar, harmonica
Darnell Neal, bass
Lee Allen, bass
Arnet Hayes, Orlando, piano
Jason Parfait, saxophone
Ian Smith, trumpet
Brandon Adams, Hammond B3 organ
Michael Harris, drums
Bryan Morris, drums
Kevin Menaro, drums
Sharisse Norman, backing vocals
Shontelle Norman-Beatty, backing vocals
Rockin Dopsie Jr., washboard (tracks 5, 7)
Big Nate Williams, accordion (tracks 5, 7)
Tito Jackcson, vocals (track 4)
Syreeta Neal, vocals (track 4)
Christone Kingfish Ingram, vocals, lead guitar (track 2)

Kenny Neal
If you want to experience the “Real Deal”, take time out to find Kenny Neal. One of the strongest modern proponents of Baton Rouge swamp blues, Kenny Neal is a second-generation southern Louisiana bluesman who is cognizant of the region’s venerable blues tradition and imaginative enough to steer it in fresh directions. Neal was born on October 14, 1957 in New Orleans. His dad, harpist Raful Neal, was a Baton Rouge blues mainstay whose pals included Buddy Guy and Slim Harpo (the latter gave three-year-old Kenny his first harmonica).

At age 13, Neal was playing in his father’s band, and at 17, landed a job playing bass for Buddy Guy. The guitarist recruited some of his talented siblings to form the Neal Brothers Blues Band up in Toronto (brother Noel later played bass behind James Cotton; five other Neal brothers also play in various bands) before returning stateside. In 1987, Kenny Neal cut his debut LP for Florida producer Bob Greenlee, an updated swamp feast initially released by Kingsnake Records as Bio on the Bayou. The following year, Alligator Records signed Neal and reissued the debut under the title Big News from Baton Rouge!! Young Neal was on his way. Neal’s sizzling guitar work, sturdy harp, and gravelly, aged-beyond-his-years vocals served him well, and he cut four albums for Alligator Records between 1989 and 1994. An acclaimed 1991 stint on Broadway in a production of Mule Bone found him performing acoustic versions of Langston Hughes’ poetry set to music by Taj Mahal.

In 1998, Neal moved from Alligator to the blues division of the jazz-based Telarc Records, releasing three albums for the label: Blues Fallin’ Down Like Rain (1998), What You Got (2000), and One Step Closer (2001). In the new millennium, Neal recorded sets for a variety of independent labels, including Easy Meeting (a 2003 collaboration with Billy Branch), Double Take (2004, a one-shot return to Alligator), and A Tribute to Slim Harpo and Raful Neal (released in 2005 for True Life Entertainment). Three years later, Neal hooked up with Blind Pig Records and released Let Life Flow in 2008, once again incorporating his gritty Louisiana roots with a sophisticated Chicago/Memphis soul approach. A second Blind Pig release, Hooked on Your Love, appeared two years later in 2010.

In 2015, Neal released his first holiday-themed album, I’ll Be Home for Christmas. It was his first album for Cleopatra Records, which also issued his critically acclaimed release, Bloodline in 2016.

Kenny’s 2016 release, Bloodline, was nomimated for a 2017 Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album and also won two 2017 BMAs (Blues Music Awards); one for Best Contemporary Blues Album and the other for Best Contemporary Male Blues Artist. Kenny Neal, a true living blues Legend is THE REAL DEAL and more poised than ever to deliver the blues like no one else can!

In October 2019 Kenny launched his new BOOGA MUSIC label, in conjunction with the VizzTone label group and BratGirlmedia label management. His flagship release was Brody Buster’s One Man Band, whom Kenny signed and recorded after hearing him impress the crowd at a recent International Blues Challenge where he was a judge. Kenny will be working out of his Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Brookstown Recording Studio to record and release music from the rich local scene and beyond.

Booklet for Straight From The Heart

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