Filmed in Manhattan and Astoria, Queens in November 2008, a video for a song from the Short Flight To A Distant Star album.
Another mildly obscure favorite, from David Bowie’s 1971 album, Hunky Dory. More inspired by David Bowie’s original demo of the song than the final studio recording. The video contains a healthy dose of public domain footage, in the style of the great, early (super low-budget) MTV videos.
An early live rendering of a song from Short Flight To A Distant Star, filmed by Doug Yoel at Rockwood Music Hall, NYC.
Something of a mad tribute to Jeff Buckley, Bob Dylan, Parliament Funkadelic, Stevie Ray Vaughan…recorded on some forgotten date at some forgotten venue.
Another video for a recording from the Short Flight To A Distant Star album, this time a Judee Sill song from her 1973 album Heart Food.
A long-time favorite of mine to improvise over, recorded live at the legendary (but questionably named) downtown Los Angeles venue, The Smell.
Something special about this relatively obscure song, from London Town, a Wings album released in 1978. Recorded live, July 2nd, 2010, with my relatively trusty Takamine 12-string guitar through a Roland JC-120 amp (a pairing I’ve enjoyed for some time.)
Long Island Pulse Singer-Songwriter Series
At The Cinema Arts Centre, Huntington NY, March 2011
By Alan Semerdjian, Long Island Pulse Magazine, April 2011
“When I asked Neil Cavanagh to play the series and paired him up with John [Flor-Sisante], I figured that the audience would witness a night of “super looping” because Neil is incredibly adept at the loop himself. His compositions with the loop are often percussive and almost mathematical in this totally warm and spacey way. Neil is a stellar guitar player (think Jeff Buckley live at Sine – improvisational and constantly seeking the sublime), and his looping really highlights his dynamic playing. But he chose to go without the loop this evening, and what happened was really magical in its own right. Neil Cavanagh returned to earth in songwriter form. He channeled a little Zimmerman and got, dare I say it, a little folkie. He proved again that he is one of the finest musicians out there today. Totally present. Totally idiosyncratic. Totally soulful. The stuff, at least in this curator’s mind, that greatness is made of.”
Great Songwriters From Long Island You Probably Have Never Heard Of
By Alan Semerdjian, Long Island Pulse Magazine, March 2008 (Excerpt)
Thirteen Seven Ways of Looking at Neil Cavanagh
I. A man and a guitar are one.
A man and a guitar and Neil Cavanagh are one.
II. I’m not sure which I like more,
The beauty of what is
Or what might be -
Neil Cavanagh’s song or
Neil Cavanagh playing a song.
III. Someone’s playing Jeff Buckley.
No, it’s Neil Cavanagh.
No, it’s the score to a really cool movie.
IV. He once mistook the quiet of the room
After a conversation as an improvisation
By Neil Cavanagh.
V. People are getting together at the Pisces Café.
Neil Cavanagh must be coming to town.
VI. O, commuters of Babylon
Why do you imagine retirement
When Neil Cavanagh is an earphone away?
VII. Neil Cavanagh hit the note.
He was a big part of everybody
Hitting a note everywhere.
This piece is inspired by Wallace Stevens’ ubiquitous poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”
Sunday May 29th 2005, 8pm at the Pisces Café, Babylon
by M. E. Anders, Aural Fix Magazine July 2005
FAREWELL LONG ISLAND SHOW – marathon performance in the style of the early shows, bringing back the electric guitar, synthesizer, bass drum, other surprises and guests.
An art enthusiast tries to find something eternal in that snapshot of time captured in the medium of their delight. Whether staring deeply into vague images of Monet, floating hypnotically on zephyrs of Mozart, or fighting mythical battles of Homer, the enthusiast is able to, if only for a short time, slip the fetters of cruel reality and run naked in that terrifying savage and exhilarating realm of the imagination.
Recently the patrons of Pisces Café were lucky enough to experience one of those transcendental performances from the mercurial talent Neil Cavanagh. Dubbed “The Suitcase in Hand” performance portending his eminent departure for California, Cavanagh sang played and entertained like it was his last day on Earth and not just his penultimate performance in New York.
With a seemingly hand picked audience of family, friends, and adoring fans, the tiny café played host to a two way love fest until the wee hours of the next morning. The overwhelming consensus: a Neil Cavanagh performance of any length (he played over five hours with nary a break) was way too short.
The set list was virtually irrelevant as Cavanagh tore and twisted even well known standards like “Will the Circle Be Broken” into soulful meandering Cavanaghesque creations that would be hard to describe as anything but original. In between actual originals like a stirring version of his mesmerizing signature “Forgiveness” and a wistful rendition of “Our Day Will Come” the set was peppered with comic sampling of Yes and Zeppelin (to lampoon falsetto and that Plant moan yell respectively.)
The evening was loose and fun and Neil kept the crowd in his vice-like grip even when his understated vocals weren’t the only voice heard in the room. One instance was when Neil shredded his guitar as Mark Loebl barked out “Forty Thousand Headmen” in a spontaneous collaboration that can only happen in such intimate confines as Pisces (Mark in his front row seat was as close to the mic as Neil on stage.)
Neil ended his marathon gig with an inspired and beautifully poetic take on “Can’t Find My Way Home.” From the fans who donned superman “S”s in homage to Cavanagh’s heroic center-stage get up to the pedestrian patrons whose serendipitous craving for a Pisces espresso shake made them privy to a performance non-par, everyone quietly prayed to the music gods that Neil find a peaceful wonderful place to reside in California but he should always find his way home to New York and such incredible shows.
Neil Cavanagh, if you ever need directions just ask. We’ll light the beacon. And please, superman, don’t ever embarrass yourself by wearing “NC” on your chest while you practice your guitar.