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Highway Butterfly: The Songs of Neal Casal

Last updated on October 29, 2021

How do you create the soundtrack of your life? Beloved worldwide, Neal Casal graced his music community with love, friendship, and vision. His artistry defied labels or boundaries. Highway Butterfly: The Songs of Neal Casal is the manifestation of one lifetime of music’s power to heal, one song at a time.

Neal Casal’s story will never end, as his soul’s song is given everlasting flight through Highway Butterfly in the hands of engineer/producer Jim Scott and producer Dave Schools of Widespread Panic. The 41-song, five-vinyl/three-CD collection via the Neal Casal Music Foundation and Royal Potato Family lifts up the work of the prolific songwriter, touring guitarist, producer, and musician. More than just a musician, the Fruit Bats’ brilliant take on “Feathers For Bakersfield” reminds us that Neal was one of his generation’s premier lyricists.

This collection brings to mind Lennon and McCartney’s With A Little Help From My Friends. Neal was part of a community that rolled with Phil Lesh (“Freeway To the Canyon”) and Billy Strings & Circles Around The Sun (a warm, lush version of “All the Luck in The World”), among many others. On Marcus King w/ Eric Krasno’s “No One Above You,” the soothing reassurance of each chord resonates with our need for connection. We will always be “Traveling After Dark” along with Aaron Lee Tasjan. But for friends and members of the community Neal Casal’s life and music impacted, J Mascis throws down a challenge with “Death Of A Dream” that we all have the power to change an individual’s life.

Proceeds from the release benefit the Neal Casal Music Foundation. Casal’s life dream of impacting music education, like his dad had done for him at 13 with the gift of his first guitar, is now the melody his spirit has left us with to carry on. The Neal Casal Foundation’s mission is to put music instruments and education in the lives of any interested New York or New Jersey student. The ability to play an instrument gives more than just music. It helps create community, hope, and joy.

Highway Butterfly: The Songs of Neal Casal reimagines Casal’s extensive collection of music as a reincarnation, redefining his life’s struggles into transformative victories for generations of young musicians. —Lisa Whealy