Missoula Bluegrass Picker Bill Neaves Profiled in National Flatpicking Guitar Magazine

By MARK VOSBURGH

As the editor of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine, Dan Miller knows talent when he hears it.  His magazine has featured the likes of Doc Watson, Norman Blake, Clarence White and Tony Rice.  Listen to what he had to say about our own local talent in January’s Edition of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine.

“In my travels around the country I often run into phenomenal “unknown” players who made the decision to stay home rather than run the roads and become nationally known.  Bill Neaves of Missoula, Montana, is one of these players.   Once I heard  him play, I decided that he was someone Flatpicking Guitar Magazine readers needed to know about.”

Dan was in Missoula last summer putting on a guitar workshop at Greg Boyd’s House of Fine Instruments and Bill showed up.  Dan said, “I heard Bill pick that evening and was very impressed with his strong, clean picking style, his interesting arrangements, and great his tone.”  After hearing him play a few songs, Dan decided to to a feature Bill in the Flatpick Profile section of his magazine.   In keeping with the magazine’s focus on instruction,  Dan asked Bill to record a tune to teach Flatpicking Guitar readers.

Photo courtesy of Chad Faely: Bill Neaves picking guitar and singing lead in Missoula Bluegrass BandPinegrass.

The magazine gave a lot ink to Bill’s teaching and revealed some of Bill’s musical philosophy.   “His  main focus with new students is teaching solid rhythm. Bill said, “Jim Nunally instilled in me a huge respect for rhythm playing. Getting bluegrass rhythm dialed in is not easy. Many students equate drive to playing hard, loud, and fast. But that is not what it is about.  It comes down to knowing how to listen and respond.  After I started playing in bands I realized that if there is not a solid-core rhythm, the lead players can be limited.”

Several weeks ago, I had a chance to Jam with Bill and handful of his students and we played Margaret’s Waltz, the tune Bill record for the magazine. Missoula is lucky to have Bill in our bluegrass community.

I guess we can share him a bit with the rest of the world.

We might as well get used to it because Miller told me. “I would not hesitate to call Bill in the future to contribute again to Flatpicking Guitar Magazine.”

You can download the article and entire January/February edition along with Bill’s recording at:  www.flatpick.com

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Get another dose of the Missoula bluegrass music scene in these posts: Bluegrass Music Growing in the Garden CityA Marriage of Music, and Missoula’s Own David Boone.

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Mark Vosburgh is a fourth-generation Montanan who has lived in Missoula for 26 years. He’s worked as chemical engineer, backcountry ski guide, and wildfire scientist. He started playing mandolin and attending bluegrass jams a few years and has just started performing with local bands: The Black Mountain Boys, Alley Cats Bluegrass Band, and The Flaming Wheelbarrows. You can follow him on Tumblr.