Neal Casal performed a blistering guitar solo with his band Circles Around the Sun at Virginia’s Lockn’ Festival last weekend. It was one of the roots guitarist’s final performances before his untimely death at the age of 50, which was announced on his Facebook page Tuesday morning.
The solo in the clip above clocks in at just over four minutes, with Casal settling into a swampy, jam band funk and mesmerizing the crowd with his six-string skills as a disco ball spins and the crowd sways back and forth.
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As Relix points out, what would turn out to be Casal’s final performance took place Saturday, August 24th, when the guitarist joined Oteil Burbridge & Friends for a set at Lockn that featured the Dead & Co. bassist as well as Bob Weir and Duane Betts.
On Instagram, Weir shared a short statement about Casal along with a photo. “My last memory of Neal will be the smile he left me with,” he said.
Casal worked with Willie Nelson, Shooter Jennings, Chris Robinson and Phil Lesh and Friends, but is perhaps best known as the lead guitarist in Ryan Adams’ backing band the Cardinals. Casal also released several solo albums and founded the psychedelic band Circles Around the Sun, whose music was famously played before and in between sets at the Grateful Dead’s Fare Thee Well shows in 2015.
Released that year as a two-disc album set titled Interludes for the Dead, the album included “Gilbert’s Groove,” a tribute to the Dead’s 1978 disco-influenced Shakedown Street. “The working title for this song was ‘Fakedown Street,’ but we eventually opted for the classier ‘Gilbert’s Groove’ — a tip of the cap to Gilbert Shelton, the legendary artist who created the artwork for the Shakedown Street album cover,” Casal told Rolling Stone in 2015.
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