"Roots Rock, Blues, Southern Delta Boogie, New Orleans Swamp Funk, call it what you want, it's here, It's the real deal, it's me."- Johnny Neel
Born in Delaware, Johnny cut his first single at the age of twelve. As an adult, the Johnny Neel Band had a strong following up and down the East Coast and released two well-received independent albums.
Johnny moved to Nashville in 1984. As an "A" player in studio sessions, he found his own songs being cut by Keith Whitley, Restless Heart, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Forrester Sisters, John Mayall, Ann Peebles and Travis Tritt.
Moonlighting in area clubs drew the attention of Dicky Betts. That relationship led to seven cuts on the "Pattern Disruptive" LP.
In 1990 Johnny joined the Allman Brothers Band. A massively successful tour followed. "Good Clean Fun", co-written by Johnny, provided the reunited Allmans with their highest charting single since "Ramblin' Man." Johnny was also Grammy nominated for his keyboard work on the instrumental cut, 'True Gravity" from the "Seven Turns" LP.
A man with boundless energy, Johnny still manages to juggle studio work, local club gigs, road work and hit song writing, and somehow maintains his sanity. Referring to his hectic life, Johnny says, "They say you can't do it all; Hell, I'm trying to prove 'em wrong!"
Matt Abts was born in Oklahoma. Growing up he was an army brat who lived on military bases all over the world before finally settling in Virginia at age 16. Matt met Warren Haynes when Warren joined the Dickey Betts Band in the mid-eighties. Abts' list of credits extends beyond the skins to include song writing as well as recording. His tours include stints with Montrose and ex-Rolling Stone guitarist Mick Taylor and most recently X2.
THE FOLLOWING ARE NON-GOV'T MULE APPEARANCES BY MATT: Dickey Betts Band - Pattern Disruptive, The Allman Brothers Band - DREAMS, Badd Boyz - BADD BOYZ, Gerry Groom - Once In A Blue Moon, Hook Herrera - tonite, Gerry Groom - Twice Blue, Chris Anderson - Old Friend, Michael Fath - The Early Years, Kevin Kinney - the flower and the knife, Blue Floyd - Wetlands Preserve New York, NY 1-31-00. Special thanks to www.mule.net for permission to use this information.
Slingerland/ Gov't Mule Contest:http://www.musicyo.com/contestmar03.asp
X2 review in Modern Drummer, March 2003 | rating: 8 out of 10
"Matt Abts has received a lot of exposure with Gov't Mule. But drumming-wise, this funky duo jam is perhaps his riskiest and most rewarding release yet. "X-1" and "Devil's Soiree" sound like epic tales from the Rudess-Morgenstein playbook, full of adventurous arranging and musical drum snippets. "Pearl" features some big Bohnam-ish stickwork from Abts, while the fusion-istic whirlwinds "Inside Outside" and "Over The Wall" approach musical chaos, but never fall in. Keyboardist Johnny Neel is excellent on organ, piano, and clavinet. Like Matt, he is intense, melodic, and soulful, filling and allowing space. Robin Tolleson