Elmore native Liam Neale will make his inaugural musical performance in his home county — and final stop on his band’s summer tour — this Friday, Aug. 24 at 8 p.m., at The Matterhorn in Stowe.
For six weeks, Neale and the other four members of The Wilderness have played venues throughout the East Coast and Midwest in their “Dancing In the Dive Bars” tour.
Professing their style as the “Slipknot of folk-rock,” the band cites influences from Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Charles Bukowski and “other prolific 20th century writers.”
Although he still considers Vermont his home, Neale moved to Massachusetts when he was 14 before attending Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, where his journey to The Wilderness truly began.
College friends Henry Lawrence, Sacha Lansky, Jonas Lewis-Anthony and Karl Tombak formed the band in 2015. Following their second tour, they approached Neale about helping out with driving, selling merchandise and loading equipment for the next tour.
“One thing lead to another, and within three days I was being taught how to play their songs on keyboard, and was informed that I was now a member of the band,” Neale said.
His life has revolved around The Wilderness ever since, and it hasn’t been easy.
“Playing in The Wilderness has been both the greatest and most challenging experience of my life,” he said.
“Trying to make a career out of playing music, especially original music, is an extremely difficult task,” Neale said.
“The challenges are compounded for me because I never played keyboard before I joined The Wilderness, so I’ve also been learning my instrument along the way.
“With all the complaints out of the way, nothing in my life has given me the sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that being a part of this band has.”
Since Neale began touring, he’s visited Vermont infrequently, usually around Christmas. “Because of that, getting the opportunity to finish such a long tour in front of friends and family is the best possible homecoming I could imagine,” he said.
Doors open at 8 p.m. at The Matterhorn, 4969 Mountain Road; there is a suggested donation of $5. thewildernessband.com.