a Rebel Yell,
We cried Neal! Neal! Neal!
warm affible charm
and his quick wit make him a
wonderful asset to the team.
upon a time, there was an evil tyrant on the throne.
Oh wait, wrong story. You want to know about me - and why
I'm so weird. I'm not sure, really, I mean, I've had a mostly
I was a rather outgoing child, involved in youth choirs for
church and school. I always loved music, I always loved to
sing, and even agreed to try piano lessons, though that didn't
work out so well. (Practice was boring!)
it or not, I was a boy soprano. Then came the fun, parents
divorced and within a year, I'd been moved
hundreds of miles away from my friends and family, taken from
the world I knew to a new one where I didn't really fit in.
I went from outgoing to shy almost instantly. Still, I was
in Concert and Stage Band in Grade 9, as well as the church
choir. There, of course, my confidence in my ability to sing
died a horrible death. I had a soprano solo coming up for
Easter Mass, and by the middle of Lent, I couldn't make the
high notes anymore.
the start of Grade 10, my voice had went from the shrill thing
it had been to the nearly subsonic thing it is now, bringing
me a lot closer to Leonard Cohen than any other singer I could
name at the time. The final blow came when I tried out for
the school musical and they put me in the band instead of
giving me a part. I stopped singing. Or, at least, singing
where anyone could hear me - after all, music was always my
friend. Stayed in band, even wrote some songs for some friends
of mine who had a band, hell I was even in all of the non-musical
school plays - but I wasn't singing in public anymore.
course, without a soundproofed room (or several), not singing
where anyone could hear me was impossible. Peoplewould hear
- family mostly, but a few friends and later, my roommates.
My family would insist that I sang well,but I never bought
it - I thought they were biased, and what's more they just
wanted another voice at the singalongs we'd sometimes have.
I always felt that I had to drop things so far down to reach
them that they were no longer recognizable. Still, comments
kept coming, and over time I guess I started to think that
I wasn't totally terrible.
years passed, and the idea of going to do Karaoke had been
worming inside my skull for a while. The thought of belting
out a song I loved with a proper accompanying track and a
mic and all was just sort of cool - and what's more, I loved
to perform (I mean, I was even doing Improv when I was in
high school!)... But I was terrified of the crowd - or more
accurately, my thoughts as to what their reaction to my singing
would be. Finally, after years of that (including a whole
lot of arguing with myself), I agreed to go with a bunch of
friends to a Karaoke show. It took a lot of pressure from
my friends (and from myself) to get up there, and I think
only the overall low quality of a lot of the other singers
let me get up. (Thinking "at least I won't be the worst
one here", I guess)... I think the first song I did was
"Roadhouse Blues" by the Doors. It was a song, of
course, that I'd been practicing for years (without really
thinking about what I'd been doing), and, much to my surprise,
I didn't suck. Of course, considering the other people about,
that may have been relative, but there it was. I'd gotten
up, and having done it once, I was able to do it again - and
did. I had a blast that night, in a horrible hole in the wall
in Vanier. I was back the next week. And the week after, though
by then I couldn't take that place anymore. I wasn't hooked
yet, but it certainly became a fun way to spend an evening.
Then, however, I went to O'Brien's, my first Dog and Pony
show, in May of 2002. There was this amazing, wondrous book
just filled with music, and so I sat down, went over it and
filled in some song slips. Once I'd handed them in, I started
to listen to what was going on around me, and suddenly I wished
I could get my slips back. I felt like I'd been called up
from the minors and that these were the big leagues. There
were these absolutely amazing singers, including the hosts,
and I was just some jerk who still didn't really believe he
could sing. I think I was even more nervous going up there
at O'Brien's than I ever had been at the other shows I'd been
to. Yet, when I was done, the ice had been broken, and I was
hooked. I was going weekly, a "regular". I was addicted.
time passed, I started making friends with the hosts (Christopher
and Danni are wonderful people) and with other regulars, and
in some ways found that I had more in common with them then
I did with the friends who sometimes came with me. We shared
the bond.... we shared the music, and it was good.
now, I get to share the music with rooms full of new people,