More than two decades after studying opera at Wayne State University, Eliza Neals is keeping it down 'n' dirty.
The veteran Detroit singer's latest music is in the rock and blues lane, with some R&B thrown in. Her band the Narcotics is a joint project with guitarist Howard Glazer, and its 2014 album "Breaking and Entering" spent 11 months on the Roots Music Reports blues-rock chart, peaking at No. 7.
"Over at Wayne State they told me to quite it all and go to Vienna and be an opera singer, but that's jsut not me," Neals, who splits time between homes in Farmington Hills and New Jersey, says by phone from the latter. "I love the training, but doing (blues and rock) is what's fun to me and what really speaks to me. This thing we're doing with the Narcotics is really on a wave right now."
Neals, Glazer and producer Mike Puwal are working up new material for another Narcotics album, recording in Nashville and at Tempermill Studios in Ferndale. In the meantime Neals has just released "On This Merry Christmas Day," a song her friend and Motown stalwart Barrett Strong wrote and presented to her 12 years ago, which she's recorded in full-band and piano versions for the single.
"Barrett kept telling me about it, and every year I said, 'I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna do it...'" Neals says. "Finally this year I said, 'Barrett, I'm gonna do it' and he came to the studio and told us what to do. It's nice to have something new for the holidays and it's getting a lot of airplay, so it's just keeping the momentum going until we get the next album done. I just cut a new song in Nashville a couple of weeks ago, so we're definitely on our way."
Eliza Neals & the Narcotics, the Reefermen and White Shag
Saturday, Dec. 26. Doors open at 9 p.m.
P.J.'s Lager House, 1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit.
Tickets are $10.
Call 313-961-4668 or visit pjslagerhouse.com.
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