Neal Casal Music Foundation launches with tribute to the late guitarist, charity initiatives

Neal Casal

Neal Casal, Courtesy.

The former manager and friends of the late guitarist Neal Casal have started a nonprofit foundation to to honor his memory and raise money for young musicians and mental healthcare.

Casal had played with several Bay Area greats such as Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, and was a member of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, which formed in L.A. but went on to call the Bay Area its home base.

The foundation’s initial focus is to provide instruments and lessons to students in New Jersey and New York schools, where Casal was born and raised, as well as to make donations to mental health organizations that support musicians in need. A first round of funding for the foundation is being raised through Kickstarter comprised of two primary packages: a 30-plus song tribute album, Highway Butterfly: The Songs of Neal Casal, and a coffee table book of his travel photography, “Tomorrow’s Sky: Photographs by Neal Casal.”

The record will be a double CD and triple-vinyl album celebrating the prolific body of work Casal left behind over the course of 14 studio albums. Recording sessions for the project began in February led by producers Dave Schools of Widespread Panic and seven time Grammy-Award winning recording engineer-producer Jim Scott at PLYRZ Studios in Valencia, Calif. More than 30 artists have been confirmed to appear, including Lucinda Williams, Jonathan Wilson, Phil Lesh and The Terrapin Family Band, Cass McCombs, Steve Earle, Warren Haynes, Jaime Wyatt, Shooter Jennings and Robert Randolph & The Family Band.

The first single and video, featuring Billy Strings with Circles Around the Sun performing “All The Luck In The World,” was released on Thursday.

During his three-decade music career, he has appeared on numerous records, was the lead guitarist for Ryan Adams & The Cardinals and has played with Sheryl Crow, Lucinda Williams, The Jayhawks, James Iha and Vetiver.

A book of his photography was one of Casal’s last wishes. The 240-page, hardcover book includes 250 of his photos, organized into six sections: Surf, Road, Rooms, Humans, Travel and Music. Casal died in August of 2019 at 50.

Track list for Highway Butterfly: The Songs Of Neal Casal

Aaron Lee Tasjan – “Traveling After Dark”
Beachwood Sparks – “You Don’t See Me Crying”
Billy Strings w/ Circles Around the Sun – “All The Luck In The World”
Britton Buchanan – “Willow Jane”
Cass McCombs – “Miss It When It’s Gone”
Courtney Jaye – “Grand Island”
Dori Freeman & Teddy Thompson – “Sweeten The Distance”
Hannah Cohen & Sam Evian – “Junkyard In The Sun”
Hazeldine – “Today I’m Gonna Bleed”
Hiss Golden Messenger – TBD
Jaime Wyatt – “Need Shelter”
Jason Crosby – “Pray Me Home”
Jesse Aycock – “The Losing End Again”
Jimmy Herring w/ Circles Around the Sun – “Bird With No Name”
Johnathan Rice – “Me & Queen Sylvia”
Jonathan Wilson – TBD
Kenny Roby – “Too Much To Ask”
Lauren Barth – “Lost Satellite”
Leslie Mendelson – “Feel No Pain”
Lucinda Williams – TBD
Mapache – “The Wisest of the Wise”
Marcus King & Eric Krasno – “No One Above You”
Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band – TBD
Robbi Robb – “I Will Weep No More”
Robert Randolph & The Family Band – TBD
Shooter Jennings – “Maybe California”
Steve Earle – “Highway Butterfly”
Todd Sheaffer – “December”
Vetiver – “White Fence, Round House”
Victoria Reed – “Angel & You’re Mine”
Warren Haynes – “Free To Go”
Zephaniah OHora – TBD