Nearly 18 months after it was first announced, Highway Butterfly: The Songs of Neal Casal has finally gotten a release date. The massive, 41-track tribute to the late singer/songwriter/guitarist/producer/photographer is out on November 12th via Royal Potato Family in collaboration with The Neal Casal Music Foundation.
The finalized tracklist features a who’s who of rock and roots stars including Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks, Bob Weir, Hiss Golden Messenger, Fruit Bats, Steve Earle & The Dukes, Jonathan Wilson, The Allman Betts Band, Shooter Jennings, Beachwood Sparks, Jaime Wyatt, Marcus King, Eric Krasno, J Mascis, Warren Haynes, Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, Cass McCombs, The Mattson 2, Oteil Burbridge, Steve Kimock, John Morgan Kimock, Duane Trucks, Leslie Mendelson, Johnathan Rice, Billy Strings, Kenny Roby, Norah Jones’ Puss N Boots, and Aaron Lee Tasjan, among many others.
Along with today’s announcement, the team behind Highway Butterfly has released a new single featuring Beachwood Sparks and GospelbeacH‘s take on “You Don’t See Me Crying”. The intertwined groups provide a jovial take on a song that can be otherwise downright depressing. The mood that pervades the song—as well the other previously released single by Billy Strings with Circles Around The Sun, “All The Luck In The World“—is a of ambivalent melancholy, of smiling through tears.
Beachwood Sparks & GospelbeacH – “You Don’t See Me Crying” (Neal Casal)
[Video: Neal Casal]
“For years we were always trying to get people to cover his songs, and we just never had much luck,” explains Gary Waldman, Neal’s close friend and longtime manager, who became the guardian of his legacy after his death in 2019. “But the songs are so good—why aren’t they being interpreted by other artists? And now you hear this record, and it really works. I’m thrilled with it; I think it’s beautiful, and it’s a great testament to how many cool songs he wrote.”
In addition to “You Don’t See My Crying”, Royal Potato Family has shared a trailer for Highway Butterfly directed by Justin Kreutzmann. The video shows some of the behind-the-scenes production of Highway Butterfly featuring some of the 130 artists on the record inter-cut with archival photos and interview footage with Casal himself.
“There are songwriters who [laughs] aren’t very well known, and they write these songs—great songs—that really have no place to go,” Casal says in one clip. “I don’t know, it’s possible I have a couple of those songs myself, you know. I’m not saying my songs are great but I know there are some tunes that are good that kind of, you think, ‘what can happen to these?'”
Highway Butterfly: The Songs of Neal Casal (Trailer)
[Video: Neal Casal]
Highway Butterfly: The Songs of Neal Casal hosts 41 performances by 130 artists in a 3 CD or 5 LP set. Additionally, the box set comes with rare and previously unpublished photos of Casal, a 48-page booklet of song lyrics, a collection of Casal’s own photography work, and an essay by one of his earliest champions Jim Cardillo. The box set also features various collectibles including a limited-edition 12×12 print by Chris Bilheimer, a collectors tribute card designed by Nate Gonzalez adorned with the photography of Jay Blakesberg, and stickers by poster artists Marq Spusta and Alan Forbes.
“I really wish I could drive around and listen to this record with Neal, because he would just be shocked by it,” Waldman said. “I think it would blow his mind, because he never would have imagined it. It’s really that good.”
Highway Butterfly: The Songs of Neal Casal is available here for pre-order. Proceeds from the album will benefit The Neal Casal Music Foundation, which provides music education to children in Casal’s home state of New Jersey as well as connects professional musicians with mental health resources.
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