When Circles Around the Sun (CATS) founder Neal Casal passed away in 2019, it was clear his wish was for the band to keep at it, a big challenge for a band that was never meant to exist. When the dust settled after Casal’s death, bassist Dan Horne, keyboardist Adam MacDougall, and drummer Marc Levy followed their leader’s wishes, and kept the music going.
When Zephaniah OHora released his debut album “The Highway” in 2017, the question most critics seemed to have was “Can a musician from New York really be a true country singer?”
It took a good ten seconds of listening to OHora’s pure country throwback voice to put to bed any of those questions.
When the members of Circles Around the Sun (CATS) met to discuss the musical direction they wanted for their next album, it didn’t take the quartet very long to reach a unanimous decision – they wanted to put out a dance record. Not just any dance record; a retro disco sound with plenty of cosmic vibe to it.
Circles Around the Sun has announced they will release a self-titled album, the band’s third, on March 13, 2020. The release will be comprised of their band’s last studio recordings with late band member/guitarist Neal Casal. The tracks were recorded in southern California a week before Casal took his own life. In a sad twist, Casal left behind a note that requested the band carry on with the music and album. Remaining band members Adam MacDougall (keys), Dan Horne (bass) and Mark Levy (drummer) have already announced subsequent dates without naming a permanent guitarist. Scott Metzger is on guitar for the Colorado dates through the end of the year.
In March 2019, members of Circles Around the Sun (CATS) and drummer Joe Russo got together for an improvised jam and recording session at The Bunker studio in Brooklyn, Mixed by New York-based engineer Jim Scott (Tedeschi Trucks Band/Tom Petty) and CATS bass player Dan Horne, the end result was the 24-minute, aptly-named four-song EP Circles Around the Sun Meet Joe Russo.
A tribute to Neal Casal has been announced for Wednesday, September 25 at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY. Casal’s former bandmates and associates will get together to pay tribute; Casal tragically took his own life on August 26. The late guitarist last played with Circles Around the Sun but had played with Ryan Adams, Chris Robinson Brotherhood and the Hard Working Americans, and was a widely-respected session/studio guitarist.
Neal Casal, guitarist for bands such as as Circles Around The Sun, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, and Hard Working Americans has died at age 50. The following statement was posted on Casal’s social media accounts:
“It’s with great sadness that we tell you our brother Neal Casal has passed away. As so many of you know, Neal was a gentle, introspective, deeply soulful human being who lived his life through artistry and kindness. His family, friends and fans will always remember him for the light that he brought to the world. Rest easy Neal, we love you.”
Reports from Casal’s representation confirm the guitarist committed suicide. His body was discovered Monday night. Casal played as part of Oteil and Friends this weekend at Lockn. A new album, Circles Around The Sun meets Joe Russo, is due out in October. Casal and CATS had several tour dates scheduled later this year to support the new album.
Aside from being a talented musician, Casal was also an accomplished photographer.
Anyone in need of help can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1–800–273–8255 or SuicidePreventionLifeline.org to chat with someone online.