The Block
Neil Jacobs

Neil Jacobs, American Gypsy

Saturday, October 21st, 7:30 pm

Doors and bar open at 6:45 pm

$25 and up

$10 student tickets

Buy Tickets

The “Gypsy Power Trio” of Neil Jacobs, 12-string guitars, Steven Fox, acoustic bass and Arkadiy Gips, violin, perform breathtaking compositions with Gypsy, Celtic, Balkan and Classical influences.

Neil Jacobs is truly a master of the acoustic 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 1995, 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".

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. Neil gained valuable experience and inspiration associating with these talented and innovative artists. His enigmatic debut CD, "Coldfish" 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 chronicled the incredible life of expatriated American and Eastern Bloc superstar, Dean Reed*. Neil accepted an invitation to travel to Moscow to attend the Moscow Film Festival in the Soviet Union. The improbable adventure continued after Neil was invited to stay to perform at Moscow University and Mosfilm Studios, as well as being selected to represent the U.S. as a member of the Cultural Delegation to the World Youth Festival. Neil's extended stay in Moscow coincided with the historical moment of Gorbachev's ascendancy to power, as Neil became a witness to the beginning of a new era in Russian history. Neil was also introduced to fascinating new forms of folk and world music from numerous countries, a well as the folk and popular music of Russia. During his stay in Moscow, Neil also developed his friendship with Dean Reed, and later that fall they attended the Denver International Film Festival premier of "American Rebel". Following in the footsteps of Dean's friend, Phil Everly (who also had divergent political philosophies from Dean), Neil accepted Dean's invitation to Berlin and Leipzig 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, proved to be Dean's final performance, for soon after he met with a mysterious and controversial death.

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 with "Zivili" 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, Neil also traveled to Bulgaria with Zivili** as part UNESCO's "Balkan Youth Reclamation program" performing for youth groups of various Balkan countries affected by the war as well as Gypsy enclaves. Performances prior to the tour included; Good Morning America, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Capital Steps in Washington, D.C.
During this period, Neil released the both the moodily pensive, "World Blue" CD and the rollicking ethnically inspired, "American Gypsy". Both critically acclaimed recordings demonstrated Neil's compositional and arrangements skills in quite opposite musical genres. "American Gypsy" was later nominated "Album of the Year" in the "American Independent Music Awards" aided by the inspired violin work of Arkadiy Gips.

In 1994, Neil was voted "Outstanding Instrumentalist" in the 1994 Columbus Music Awards. Later that year he also accepted a grant to study the gypsy music of Spain and resided in Andalusia for a year as part of Spain's International Artist exchange program. Here he was assigned a flamenco master instructor as well as a personal gypsy guide to accompany him to authentic rendezvous sites for amazing gypsy music events. Neil's performances throughout Andalusia culminated in a solo concert performance at the "Palace of Culture" in Seville. The year in Spain also provided a wealth of new musical knowledge and inspiration to be added to his expanding composing palette.

In 2001, Neil was accepted the position of Associate Professor in the Division of Performing Arts at Alfred University in New York. There he taught Gypsy (Roma) and Balkan history and music. His interest in teaching and sharing his knowledge and experiences soon expanded. He soon expanded his outreach programs by offering workshops and lectures in primary schools, high schools, churches, chautauquas, and community forums across the country. His lecture/demos often became incorporated into his concert format. His critically acclaimed fourth CD, "Secret Places", was released in 2005, and featured an interesting collage of musical styles and textures reflecting his diverse background.

In 2009 Neil released his most ambitious solo CD, "12-String Guitar", featuring exclusively true solo orchestral 12-string guitar, with many of his never before released concert classics such as "Ghostrider Medley", "Belfast", "Song for Huddy", and "Moscow Calling". "12-String Guitar" features a striking array of styles and compositions ranging from playful to pensive. In this, his sixth CD, Neil spans 30 years of composing and includes some his earliest pieces and childhood memories, as well as some of his favorite rousing concert favorites. All compositions are performed solo without the aid of overdubs, looping or special effects on five of Neil's favorite 12-string guitars. "12-String Guitar" was nominated for "Best Solo Guitar Album of the Year" at the JPF Music Awards in Nashville.

Neil's latest CD release, "The Peasant Sabbatical", revisits much of music influences and experiences of his travels through the Balkans, and has been nominated for numerous awards including; Finalist in the International Acoustic Music Awards and Semi-Finalist at the "International Songwriting Competition" (ISC) in Nashville.

Neil Jacobs

Neil Jacobs, American Gypsy

Saturday, October 21st, 7:30 pm

Doors and bar open at 6:45 pm

$25 and up

$10 student tickets

About

The “Gypsy Power Trio” of Neil Jacobs, 12-string guitars, Steven Fox, acoustic bass and Arkadiy Gips, violin, perform breathtaking compositions with Gypsy, Celtic, Balkan and Classical influences.