The band

Two years of death and disease and no live music---I hardly recognize myself. Thus it was Comfest '22 gently re-immersed this battered, drifting soul into the mildly healing waters of outdoor song-and-jamfestival-born. Better that way, among the trees, our original friends.

The Park's Gazebo Stage was the site of the first band I've seen and heard since a town named Wuhan changed America and the world. Friday, June 24, I liked how my personal siege was lifted. First force to the rescue entered the freshly opened city gates: The Neal Show!

Neal Havener is every mother's delight: genteel, pleasant, kindly, warm, fuzzy, youthfully middle-aged. Many mellow bones connect in his slim countenance. His music very much like early Simon and Garfunkel--earnest, thoughtful, crafted with respectable chord changes to almost be proud of.

They were opening with a soundcheck (this was Comfest, after all, and free, once the greatest festival without the hint of anything non-non-corporate). The vamp his several sympathetic like-souled mates were backing him with while the sound guys got it right had a little lilt, a soft round bump of almost-funk that I found endearing. After a few relaxed minutes the Neal Show! morphed into the warm welcome wagon arms of 'Right Time To Be Here' and I knew everything was going to be alright. Pleasant it was and thoroughly.

A few more tunes as easy on the ears strolled off the Gazebo and then Neal decided to fet frisky: he donned a top hat. Dr. Seuss was in the house, yo. This guy is one dangerous vegan. 

Nevertheless, adventure was on the menu. Next song his able keyboardist Pete Vogel flicked a switch, his instrument sounding like one of those old-time pipe organs that accompanied many-a silent movie. Frankly I thought it was pretty darn cool. Neither Neal nor Vogel resembled any Lugosi-vampire I've ever seen, though. It would've scared the kids.

Visually in his sky-blue polo shirt Pete's a dead ringer for Kenny Rogers. Neal at a distance reminded me of our own Curt Scheiber from one angle and Michael J. Fox's TV dad from another.

These are not threatening images. That's why the pipe organ effect worked so well. Contrast, baby, it works like a red dress after midnight.

Song of the Set goes to Havener's radio-ready anti-war ditty, 'Lets Bring Johnny Home.' Hummable and meaningful.

Most of Havener's predominant vibe was colored with hobbit-like Middle Earth tones and reminded me of Caravan's progressive English folk fantasy, "In the Land of Grey and Pink," a Frodo-ian romp through the haze of exhaled "punk weed." Head shop exotic.

 One other thing I liked about The Neal Show! Neil seemed happy. Call it a contact high.