Photo by Dean Budnick
A tribute to the life and music of the gifted singer, songwriter and musician Neal Casal, titled Highway Butterfly: The Songs of Neal Casal has been announced for release on Nov. 12.
The collection, which will be released as a box set, contains 41 covers of the late artist’s work, by 130 musicians.
Highway Butterfly: The Songs of Neal Casal was co-produced by Grammy Award-winning recording engineer/producer Jim Scott and Widespread Panic’s Dave Schools. The project was the brainchild of Gary Waldman, Neal’s close friend and longtime manager. Waldman became the guardian of Casal’s legacy after his death in 2019.
“As soon as word got out about the project, the wheels started rolling fast,” Schools recalled in a statement. “People were calling us up, friends of Neal’s, other artists who had only brushed up against him, and saying they wanted to be part of it. We had intended to have it be around 18 songs, but it just kept exploding.”
Over the span of his 25-year career, Neal Casal released 14 albums under his name and collaborated with the likes of Bob Weir, Willie Nelson, Phil Lesh, James Iha, Minnie Driver, Shooter Jennings and many more.
Highway Butterfly: The Songs of Neal Casal is comprised of covers by Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks, Bob Weir, Hiss Golden Messenger, Fruit Bats, Steve Earle & The Dukes, Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, Vetiver, Shooter Jennings, Jonathan Wilson, Beachwood Sparks, Jaime Wyatt, Marcus King, J Mascis, Dori Freeman, Warren Haynes, Cass McCombs, Leslie Mendelson, Johnathan Rice, Billy Strings, Kenny Roby, Norah Jones’ Puss N Boots and Aaron Lee Tasjan among many others.
“It’s been overwhelming to record these talented artists as they put their own spin on Neal’s songs,” wrote Schools, “It speaks volumes to the high quality of his songwriting and to the depth of love and appreciation that his peers had for him”
Casal was also an integral member of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, Beachwood Sparks, GospelbeacH, Hard Working Americans, The Skiffle Players, Hazy Malaze and Circles Around the Sun.
The box set includes album sleeves with rare and unpublished photos of Casal, a 48-page booklet of song lyrics, Casal’s iconic photography work and an essay by Jim Cardillo, an early-career champion.
All proceeds from sales of Highway Butterfly: The Songs of Neal Casal will benefit the Neal Casal Music Foundation (established in 2020) which provides musical instruments and lessons to students in New Jersey and New York state schools where Casal was born and raised. The foundation also donates proceeds to mental health organizations that support musicians, including MusiCares and Backline.
“I really wish I could drive around and listen to this record with Neal because he would just be shocked by it,” said Waldman. “I think it would blow his mind because he never would have imagined it. It’s really that good.”
Shortly after his passing Casal was honored at The Capitol Theatre, where his surfboards, music and photography graced the walls of the venue. A collection of his photos was released posthumously as a book titled Tomorrow’s Sky.
Pre-order the collection which is available as both a 5-LP and 3-CD box sets, here.
Highway Butterfly: The Songs Of Neal Casal
1. Traveling After Dark – Aaron Lee Tasjan
2. Need Shelter – Jaime Wyatt
3. You Don’t See Me Crying – Beachwood Sparks w/ GospelbeacH
4. No One Above You – Marcus King w/ Eric Krasno
5. Feathers For Bakersfield – Fruit Bats
6. All The Luck In the World – Billy Strings w/ Circles Around The Sun
7. Sweeten The Distance – Dori Freeman w/ Teddy Thompson
8. Time Down The Wind – Hiss Golden Messenger
9. Me & Queen Sylvia – Johnathan Rice
10. Wisest Of The Wise – Mapache
11. Freeway To The Canyon – Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band
12. Feel No Pain – Leslie Mendelson
13. Detroit Or Buffalo – Jonathan Wilson w/ Hannah Cohen
14. Day In The Sun – Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks
15. Bird With No Name – Jimmy Herring w/ Circles Around The Sun
16. Maybe California – Shooter Jennings
17. White Fence Round House – Vetiver
18. December – Todd Sheaffer
19. Grand Island – Courtney Jaye
20. Superhighway – Oteil Burbridge, Nick Johnson, Steve Kimock, John Morgan Kimock & Duane Trucks
21. Willow Jane – Britton Buchanan
22. Too Much To Ask – Kenny Roby w/ Amy Helm
23. Time And Trouble – Bob Weir w/ Jay Lane & Dave Schools
24. Death Of A Dream – J Mascis
25. The Cold and The Darkness – Tim Heidecker
26. Free To Go – Warren Haynes
27. So Far Astray – Rachel Dean
28. Highway Butterfly – Steve Earle & The Dukes
29. Angel And You’re Mine – Victoria Reed
30. Pray Me Home – Jason Crosby
31. Lost Satellite – Lauren Barth
32. The Losing End Again – Jesse Aycock
33. These Days With You – Puss N Boots
34. Cold Waves – Tim Bluhm, Kyle Field
35. Best To Bonnie – Zephaniah Ohora w/ Hazeldine
36. Let It All Begin – The Mattson 2
37. You’ll Miss It When It’s Gone – Cass McCombs, Ross James, Joe Russo, Farmer Dave Scher & Dave Schools
38. Fell On Hard Times – Angie McKenna
39. Raining Straight Down – The Allman Betts Band
40. Soul Gets Lost – Hazy Malaze w/ Jena Kraus
41. I Will Weep No More – Robbi Robb