Son of the late, prominent Baton Rouge blues guru Raful Neal, Kenny Neal has done his father (and the large, extended Neal family) proud with a successful career that has won many awards and taken him around the world, all the while staying true to his Louisiana roots. Taking a different route from his harmonica playing father, Kenny, born in 1957, is a guitarist who has become known as a modern swamp-blues multi-instrumentalist.
Neal was playing in his father’s band by the age of 13, and at 17 played bass for his father’s old friend and former band mate, Buddy Guy. Following his 1987 debut, Bio on the Bayou,on Kingsnake Records, Kenny Neal made the move to Alligator to record Big News from
He recorded four albums for Alligator between 1989 and 1994. In 1991 he took a hiatus of several months to appear on Broadway at New York’s Ethel Barrymore Theatre where he performed Langston Hughes’ poetry set to music by Taj Mahal in a production of Mule Bone.
His other releases include three albums for Telarc Records between 1998 and 2001, followed by a scattershot batch of recordings on a variety of labels including a reprise on Alligator and two for Blind Pig. His latest recording is Bloodline (2016), for Cleopatra Records, a follow-up to I’ll Be Home for Christmas.
Bloodline was nominated 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, just the most recent in a long line of honors.