James Neary started humming long before he could speak. By 12, he was playing guitar. By high school, he had learned to play guitar, and created a band with his best friend at the time, Ryan Trost.
“When I started playing guitar, I was mostly playing other people's stuff and having a good time, but that was right about the time I met Ryan,” Neary said. “He introduced me to the idea of writing my own material and really creating rather than emulating; he was an incredible songwriter in his own right, even just being a teenager. Since the very first song I wrote, I knew writing and performing was going to be a part of my life forever.”
Music has always been a huge part of his life. It makes sense that music was his first language.
"Music to me is part of communication that takes place on a level that speech never could. I like to make music that takes inference, that makes you wonder what something means and has many possible interpretations. Music to me is an opportunity to express something that words alone can't. And when people are listening or singing along, it's welcoming and beautiful and there's nothing like it,” he described.
His music hobby started to gain speed and turned into something that looked a lot more like a career when he won Acorn Theatre's first ever singer/songwriter competition. The prize was six hours of studio time at Lennon's Den in Burr Ridge, Illinois. Then there was a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise more money to keep the recording going, and at the end of it all, Neary walked away with his first full-length album.
“I knew from then on that I finally had a professional product and felt that the contest win was definitely affirming enough to push me into considering music as a career and not just a hobby,” he said.
2014 and 2015 came and went. James began to play more and more local venues, gained some traction in the local music scene. Then in 2016, his favorite radio station 101.1 WKQX opened up a contest to perform on stage with Muse, a favorite band of his since high school.
Neary said it was one of those lifelong 'can't ever happen' fantasies, so when he got a call telling him he won the contest and would be flying to Washington D.C and join the band on stage, losing his mind to excitement didn’t begin to describe it.
“Hands down the biggest item crossed off my bucket list so far,” he declared.
It’s been a whirlwind for Neary since his Hoosier Star win in 2016. Neary had made it into the finals and got the opportunity to sing a song as the front-man of the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra, doing his best to copy Freddy Mercury while singing 'Somebody To Love' to a packed Civic Auditorium. It was another item crossed off the bucket list.
Early this year, Neary felt a huge shift in his career. He's no longer a one man band.
“I've got a band of some of the area's finest musicians together, and we're writing original music together as 'James Neary and the Bevy Blue,” he said.
The band is made up of Dakota Morgan, Sammy Lane Tuthill, and Jeff Top, all local musicians.
“We're a bit of a blues rock outfit ready to take on the world. We've been working hard to write as much material as we can and will be releasing our first EP on May 19th at Vegetable Buddies in South Bend,” Neary said. “The release show is also going to showcase Dena Dena Dena and Linsay & Russell John opening up the night.”
Neary can usually be found playing Magic: the Gathering at Heroes Haven in Michigan City, hanging out at local shows, or at home, writing, performing, and making future plans.
As far as goals go, he wants to see James Neary and the Bevy Blue to success, which, in very short term goals, includes planning for their first show, and designing their first bit of merchandise.
His long-term goals, are similar to all of the writing and playing he’s been doing lately. He’s incredibly inspired by the formation of his band.
“I just want to keep writing music, good music, music that makes you feel and think and react. I want to keep playing shows to audiences that are ready to listen and have a good time,” he said. “I think the band is the key to all of this; we're writing some seriously incredible music together, and I think that we've got the talent and the drive to do anything we want. I'm looking forward to seeing what that means and where it takes us.”