For more than thirty years, the Neville Brothers -- Cyril, Art, Aaron, and Charles -- have been serving up a rich gumbo of New Orleans soul, funk, and R&B. Through their legendary live shows and a long string of successful albums, the Nevilles' angelic vocal harmonies have pleased audiences worldwide. But each sibling has also pursued a solo career, including percussionist-vocalist Cyril, the youngest of the clan.
Before the Nevilles formally came together in 1977, Cyril played with the Meters, a popular New Orleans-based instrumental funk band noted for its complex rhythms. In the mid-Eighties he joined the Uptown Allstars and helped concoct the band's unique groove, "second-line reggae" - a blend of Jamaican reggae and New Orleans second-line rhythms (a reference to the "second line" of mourners in New Orleans funeral processions, who follow the band, purging sorrow by singing and dancing to infectious rhythms). The Allstars have released two albums, most recently "Soulo," on Neville's own label, Endangered Species. In recent years, Neville has also and recorded with the Latin-Caribbean-Creole-jazz band Los Hombres Calientes, and written music for two movie soundtracks. Many weekends he can be found at New Orleans' Tippertina Club, showcasing new artists through "Cyril Neville Presents."
As a kid, Neville was drawn first to the drumset. "I was fortunate to grow up in a musical family, of course, but I was also fascinated by the music from the streets and churches of New Orleans -- the way the Mardi Gras Indians played tambourines, and the way they played tambourines in the Sanctified Church." He remembers following his favorite percussionists around the French Quarter, especially Richard "Didimus" Washington, who played with Dr. John. For technique, he studied Chano Pozo and Tito Puente.
Someone gave Neville his first LP instrument when he was playing with the Meters -- a pair of second-hand, white fiberglass congas. Today, he considers LP Thunder Timbs integral to the sound he wants ("they got a whole lot of bottom"). He appreciates the fact that LP listens to musicians' feedback on their products "and that the catalog just gets bigger and bigger, each new model a step above where they were before."