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About

Neil Brockman is a singer, guitar player, songwriter, and producer in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.  He performs live shows as a solo artist in-person and writes, records, mixes, produces, and masters his own original music.

Neil is passionate about using the power of music to emotionally connect with others. Music has always been a major part of Neil's life, and he's dedicated to continually improving his skills in performing, songwriting, and producing.

Neil's Story: A History of Music

The Early Years (1998 - 2005)

Born and raised in Windsor, Ontario, music has always been an important part of Neil's life.  His musical journey began at the age of 11 when he chose to learn the trumpet in his grade school music class.  Music felt natural to Neil, and he quickly excelled with it.  He won both the Rookie Musician of the Year and Musician of the Year awards at his high school, and was one of the few musicians invited to perform in the pit band for the school's annual stage performances.  He successfully auditioned for the Windsor Symphony Youth Orchestra, but chose not continue with it after a few short weeks. It just didn't quite align with his overall feelings and approach towards music.  He was also a member of the Windsor Optimist Youth Band, a competitive marching band in the area.  The highly organized and professional group regularly placed in the top three of all events performed in at the time.

Changing Priorities (2006 - 2009)

Neil put away his trumpet after high school to focus on his studies at the University of Windsor.  He thought his music days were over, but little did he know they were just laying dormant.  Upon graduation, Neil started to realize he had passion for singing.  He had moved to Ottawa, Ontario, and spent a lot of time in the car singing along to his favorite songs for 8 hours on the highway travelling to and from Windsor for visits.  This was further galvanized one fateful night in 2009 at a bar called The Legendary Red Rooster in Burlington, Ontario, where one of his best friends worked.  They hosted an event where guests could sing karaoke with a live band on stage.  During a visit, Neil got up and belted out "Don't Look Back in Anger" by Oasis. He felt a rush that he'd never felt before as a musician.  Neil knew in that moment that he wanted to become a singer.

Shift to Vocals (2010 - 2014)

Neil joined a newly formed local rock band in the Ottawa area as a lead singer for several months.  After performing a couple of gigs, Neil was let go due to differences in the group's direction and goals.  Not to be discouraged, Neil doubled down and continued to work on improving his vocals and musical abilities.

He moved back to Windsor in 2012 and was told about a local group called Music Express. It was a large ensemble of brass and woodwind  instruments, drums, guitars, keyboards, and singers.  Neil brought his trumpet out of retirement and joined the group's brass section.  He enjoyed playing trumpet again, and was able to get some vocal experience too.  His first vocal performance with the group was Huey Lewis' "Hip to be Square" with the backing of the full band.  He was also part of a vocal trio singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" with a light keyboard and percussion backing.  Neil also got valuable experience learning about setting up a PA system, running cables to instruments, and doing sound checks during this time.

New Town, New Opportunities (2015-2016)

Neil decided to end his time with Music Express shortly before he moved to North Bay, Ontario for work.  As he started a new job, he realized that a few of his coworkers were seasoned musicians, some of which had decades of experience.  They decided to form a new band called "Ultimate Limit States", mostly to perform in work-related charity fundraisers.  They regularly practiced as a group and also played several small private backyard gigs with Neil as the lead singer. Performing with this incredibly talented group of musicians was a major step forward in Neil's musical journey.  His vocals continued to improve, but he also learned valuable lessons in stage presence, confidence, and "selling" a performance. But most importantly, he learned that you need to be an entertainer first and a musician second when performing for an audience.

A Major Musical Shift (2017 - 2019)

Neil knew there was a very real chance he would be moving again for work, this time to St. Catharines, Ontario.  He had no family or friends there, and didn't know how to continue with music in a new town as just a singer. One of Neil's bandmates suggested learning guitar as a way to get out and play open mic nights to meet new musicians.  Neil was always very intimidated by the guitar and never believed he could ever play it.  But he was taught three basic open chords and was loaned a classical nylon-string guitar to practice on.  With enough time, Neil was able to play his first full song from start to finish: "Wheat Kings" by The Tragically Hip.  Needless to say, he was hooked.  He kept learning new open chords, strumming patterns, and songs.

 

When the time did eventually come to move to St. Catharines, Neil had a very basic foundation of playing rhythm guitar.  He continued to learn new chords and songs, but it was slow-going.  It took a long time and a lot of practice to gain confidence in quickly and cleanly changing between chords while singing in-time and on-pitch. 

The Grind (2020)

Eventually, Neil had enough songs ready to venture out and perform at open mic nights in St. Catharines.  He played his best three songs each time and started gaining confidence playing solo in front of a live crowd.  He was just starting to get into a groove with it when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and shut everything down.  This was a very tough time for Neil, especially while living alone and working from home in a town that he had no family or close friends in.

He took this time of isolation and self-reflection to go all-in with his music.  Through pure will and determination, he started quickly improving his guitar playing over countless hours of dedicated practice.  He kept learning new songs, and even tackled his biggest challenge as a rhythm guitar player: barre chords.  There was hardly a day that passed where Neil didn't play his guitar with the explicit goal of improving his skills.  It was clear that something big was going on... His musical side was being unleashed, and there was no going back.

Neil gained enough confidence to start writing original music.  In June 2020, he released his first original song "Thick and Thin":  A tribute to his three best friends who came through for him when he needed them most.  Neil recorded, mixed and produced the song using the program Audacity with very limited knowledge and equipment.  It was an excellent stepping stone, but he knew there was plenty of room to improve.  Neil also started livestreaming full musical shows in November 2020 that lasted at least one hour, and sometimes for three.

The Next Level (2021 - Present)

 

Neil began to properly learn the basics of acoustics, advanced topics in music theory and songwriting, audio engineering, mixing, music production, and mastering.  He upgraded his software to a professional Digital Audio Workstation called Reaper and learned how to use it.  He also invested in some upgraded recording equipment. 

 

This was all happening as Neil was writing his next original song.  After eight months of hard work, education, and borderline obsession, his second original song "It's Alright" was released in June 2021. The song was a major improvement in production and song structure compared to "Thick and Thin".  It featured additional vocals by Niki Kenendy, and an electric guitar solo by one of his best friends (and former bandmate in North Bay), Adrian Sgoifo. He also released a fully-produced cover version of "Confusion" by Clarissa Diokno at the same time.  Niki and Clarissa are two Canadian artists that Neil met through livestreaming, both of whom had a major influence in inspiring him to take his music to the next level.

Going Forward

Neil has been building from the momentum of releasing "It's Alright" and his recorded cover of "Confusion".  He launched his new "Neil Brockman" brand and website in September 2021 to promote himself and his music in a more professional manner.

Neil continues to write, record, mix, and produce original music that he hopes will have a meaningful and emotional impact with his listeners.  He started performing full live shows as a solo singer and guitar player in St. Catharines in the summer of 2021. He invested in his own PA system and has successfully performed regular shows up to 3 full sets of music per show.

In early 2022, Neil put the finishing touches on Brockman Home Studio, his own personal recording studio that he designed and built himself.  With complete acoustic treatment, Neil hopes to streamline and improve his recording and production skills.  He also bought his very first electric guitar in April 2022, a Reverend Warhawk DA. In 2023 he made a big leap and bought an electric 12-string guitar: the Reverend Airwave 12.

Neil hopes to continue playing live shows while continuing to improve his musical skills.   

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