The London Souls rise again to present Here Come the Girls

Tash Neal had his priorities straight. First thing he did when he awoke after brain surgery was reach for a guitar.

"I wanted to make sure I could play," says the London Souls guitarist as the band travels from Charlotte to Atlanta for their next show. "I didn't play a lot but I played D, A, and G chords, and it felt right, and I thought, 'Good.'"

Neal and drummer Chris St. Hilaire had just finished recording their second album of chunky hard rock and soul when Neal nearly became a fatality. Two years ago in May, he was waylaid by a hit-and-run driver while seated in a cab in New York's Greenwich Village.

Neal was in intensive care and required emergency brain surgery. For a while during his recovery he had to wear a helmet because they'd removed part of his skull. Neal was told it might be a year before he could walk again, let alone play music, but that only drove him to dedicate his all to rehab.

"I was really frustrated that I couldn't play. I was very frustrated so a lot of my energy was focused on being able to do that," he says. "It's difficult, but as long as you have something to look forward to, to work towards, that helps."

Five months later — after having a metal plate put in his head during a second surgery — Neal was playing again. By the beginning of last year, London Souls were out on the road touring. Indeed, Neal's already hailing cabs again.

"I actually went right back afterwards," he chuckles when the subject's broached. "Some people said, 'Oh you must be scared about that,' but no. I don't know why, but I wasn't. I just thought, 'Fuck it."'

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