Village Church Contemporary Band highlights ‘Live on the Green’ concert June 24

By Karen Billing

For the last four years, Village Church Contemporary Band leader Duey Neal has been providing the Village Community Presbyterian Church with lively music on Sunday mornings. Now Neal will bring his group outdoors for a special community-wide event, “Live on the Green,” on Sunday, June 24, at the Rancho Santa Fe Village Green (intersection of Avenida de Acacias and Paseo Delicias). The Village Church’s contemporary band, along with the Peter Pupping Band, will provide the entertainment from 5-7 p.m.

The community is welcome to bring a blanket and picnic and enjoy the evening with family and friends.

Neal’s group normally plays the 9 a.m. service at the church with Neal on acoustic guitar, vocalist Kim Royster, drummer Jim Biven, bassist Dave Mattia, keyboardist Rob Pickard and electronic guitarist Jeff Lamb.

Saxophone player Adrienne Nims, who usually doesn’t play at the church, will join the group at the June 24 concert.

Neal said the Village Church offers one of the best traditional church music (choir and organist) programs that you can find in San Diego, but their contemporary band offers something a little different.

Some of what they play are traditional Christian songs and hymns re-arranged to be played with a band, but 60 percent of the songs they play have been written in the last 10 years.

“We’ve got a pretty hot band for what we do, they’re really good,” Neal said. “There’s enough freedom for us to play with enthusiasm, it’s not a watered down pop music sound, I think it’s pretty dynamic. We’re not trying to just sing the truth but trying to feel the truth while we sing it.”

Neal has been playing music since a young age and has been mostly self-taught.

“I started playing piano all by ear, I didn’t have a lot of formal training,” said Neal. “In the first grade I was banging the piano when nobody was home.”

He continued playing in bars and shops in college and also started to play mostly piano in worship services for youth programs.  He took a “definite shine” to pop music and started playing guitar in college, mainly because he was a big fan of the music of James Taylor and the Eagles.

“Eventually I combined my interest and natural gift for playing music by ear with my interest in church and my faith in God,” Neal said. “Those came together for me to be involved in contemporary, band-driven sound in worship music in the church.”

Neal has been playing and leading worship bands for the last 15 years and started at the Village Church in June 2008.

Neal is very happy with his weekly venue; the Village Church’s new sanctuary has technology that makes it a great place for music.

“The place is really beautiful and it really invites one to become reflective and reverent,” Neal said “It creates a really nice environment for us to sing songs from our head and our heart.”

While they will play a few songs from their church repertoire at the park concert, they will also play a wide variety of fun, upbeat music — some folk rock, some rock, a little jazz.

“I really hope people will feel very comfortable visiting with each other, tossing Frisbees or playing catch. It should be like a park,” Neal said. “It’s just people being outside with family and friends and instead of a boom box, a couple of pretty nice bands playing live music.”

For more information on Live on the Green, which is sponsored by the Village Church, visit www.villagechurch.org

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