TNYO: When great music is actually great, people remember it. But what makes great music?
Is it the melody, the lyrics, or the entire composition as a whole?

If you think about the role of music and how it has defined our culture especially Classic Folk, Country and  Rock and Roll music,
bands that were formed in the seventies are still the most prominent and influential forms of music and will continue to be probably till
the end of time.

Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Doors, Cat Stevens, Carly Simon, Neil Young, Crosby Stills and Nash.
Jimmy Hendrix.
These bands are timeless and are referenced by almost every aspiring musician in the world at one point or another.

Is it magic?

Absolutely that has a lot to do with it but technically speaking its  more about song writing and melodic musical accompaniment more
than anything else. The bands I mention above had that magic combination which spoke and still speaks to us on subjects that are
close to our heart and soul.    
I had the opportunity to interview Neal Shulman One half of an incredible musical act called Aztec Two Step an acoustic duo who
have been writing and performing musical memory makers for some time now. Covered by almost every major music and media  
publication out there, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, etc,

Aztec Two-Step will be performing an intimate venue in Manhattan on June 14, 2014
at Subculture on 45 Bleecker Street NY NY    
(212) 533-5470 -   

Neal can you tell me a little bit about Aztec Two-Step.

Neal: Rex and I were both in Boston in 1971 and we both had the same thing on our minds which was playing music and hopefully
being able to do this for a living. Rex is from a little town in Maine and I am from the island of Manhattan

TNYO: Ah - Ha!!

Neal: Yes  -
The New York Optimist - well I'm more a pessimist than an optimist so its a city mouse country mouse kind of thing,
and Rex is a very prolific and accomplished songwriter and we met one night at an open mike club in Boston and we heard each other
play and I think that my strengths were the guitar and a little bit of songwriting and his strengths were songwriting and we started
Aztec Two Step and within a year after we met we were in LA doing the final mixes for our first album on Electra Records.
This was the really the foundation of our career together.

TNYO: Ok, so Rex is the main songwriter or do you write the songs together?

Neal: He is the main songwriter.

TNYO: Did the audience and ticket sales and all the other things that go into creating a productive musical act have anything to do
with how you were writing and performing your music?

Neal: As soon as you enter the arena when signed to a major label, its just part of the fabric when you have a hit single it’s certainly
just part of the process. But when you are actually in the studio the producer knows he has a mission from the record company and its
understood that these things are incorporated in the process. When you have a duo, well, usually a band has a fully formed rhythm
section so the idea is to try to capture that, so when you go into the studio and its a singer songwriter acoustic duo, all those other
things  - the rhythm section all the other production touches are decisions that have to be made, so there are places where this process
affected us but still in all, if you sit around and think about it over all, our last record and what we wrote or a more  recent record we
-  re -  recorded  more topical material and added a few more things, but you can’t anticipate the audience. Your writing these songs
as your muse will lead you to do them -and the songs will rise or fall depending on their merit.

TNYO: From what I understand about music which overall is not a lot, from the business perspective so to speak, in the 60’s 70’s and
even 80’s you had your record labels.

Neal: Yes but not 60’s cause we started
Aztec Two-Step in 1971 - which may have been an extension of the sixties.

TNYO: Yes I'm saying in general you had your record label, and the label signed you up and it was their job to promote you and it
was their job to sell your records, and send you out on tour and book your schedule for travel and performances am i right?

Neal: Well partially right, It was their job to first finance your record, to manufacture your record to physically distribute your record
to the retail outlets then to promote your record. Sometimes they would have some influence on touring, but thats not necessarily their
job, thats why artists have managers, record company's are not booking agents. Now its not uncommon when a record label has a
character and a presence like Electra records they will look to other artists they nurtured and ask them to help nurture you.

When we made our first record
Harry Chapin  preceded us at the label and he was a huge success and we did a lot of shows with
Harry Chapin in the early days, but it was a very formal thing and that was really the function of the booking agent, and the function
of a manager is to kind of coordinate the whole thing, motivate the record label and the booking agent and try to get everything
working at once. When you want to talk about the distribution of a record, if somebody hears your record and wants to buy your
record and they go into  - well in those days a brick and mortar record store and its not available well then somebody's dropped the
ball. So distribution is really the nuts and bolts of how do I get a couple of records into every store in the United States where this
record is being played these are extremely important facets but which are far removed from the actual making of the music.

TNYO: So at the time you were signed to Electra records can you give me a few of the big names that were also signed to Electra
records at the time you were signed.

Neal: We were at
Electra Records during the period when the two major artists who preceded us were Harry Chapin and Carly
Simon, but Electra’s roots went way back there was also the Incredible String Band and they were the American Label for Queen. So
many record labels at the time were started by brothers and were smaller operations, Jack Holtzman started Electra Records in his
dorm room in college The Chess brothers started the Chess label  and originally Electra was a folk label and Atlantic was
an R & B label but the post sixties rock revolution Atlantic Records became the home of Led Zeppelin and Electra Records became
the home of the Doors so were talking about Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Artists who defined the era of Rock and Roll and  these
labels expanded and changed with the times -  post Monterrey Pop Festival.

TNYO: Can you tell us a little bit about the back stage relationships and partying with other rock stars at that time?

Neal: Well you know you can play with a lot of artists but not necessarily hang out with a lot of artists, that may not be true for every
other band, I think there are some musical entity's out there that did have more interaction and went on longer tours together.
Harry Chapin ( ) is somebody we played a lot of shows with,
Carly Simon ( ) was somebody we had a little contact with here and there but over the
years when we see
America ( ) now, its not that we spent so much time with them, when we see each other
Rex and myself driving to LA together and hearing a Horse With No Name  on the radio on our way to make our first record theres a
certain   connection that we feel. If we were ever lucky enough to be on a bill with
Richie Havens ( ) which we were, being backstage with Richie Havens was a rich and
wonderful experience and a cherished experience we only played with
The Smothers Brothers one time ( )
But you couldn't meet two nicer and warmer people, we played with

The Beach Boys (  ) at Nassau Coliseum and well we had the same accountant but that
was about it.

We did go on the road with
Neil Sedaka
( ) for a short tour in The Pacific Northwest and that was a lot of fun and he was a
wonderful guy it was a lot of fun, it doesn't sound like a natural match up
Aztec Two-Step ( )  and Neil Sedaka but it was fun you know.

TNYO: No its sounds like a great show actually, So 43 years of performing your music how many
albums have you guys put out?

Neal: You know I don't have an exact count because of the compilations but I think its somewhere is the area of a dozen.

TNYO: Do you have any favorites?

Neal: I think theres something about the first record  titled simply
Aztec Two-Step
( ) you know they say you have a lifetime to write your first record and then your second
record you have a year to write it.

The first record and the second  record had an impact for us and got substantial air play our 2004 and 2005 studio release
Days of Horses ( ) this album really represented something we had achieved which was
missed on earlier recordings in regards to the recording process.  

Electra Records  - just a  long list of killer musical acts,
The Cars  ( )  
Tracy Chapman ( )
10,000 Maniacs ( )
are you still with Electra Records?

Neal: No were long gone from Electra we made four records for them and then we moved on to RCA
Records and made three albums for them.

TNYO: Another huge Major Label.

Neal: Oh yes,  
Hall and Oates ( ) had one of their first well deserved success’s with
RCA Elvis Presley
was signed to RCA  ( )

TNYO: Are you still signed to RCA ?

Neal: No were long gone from RCA.

TNYO: Are you signed to a label now?

Neal: Well we live in a whole other era.

TNYO: That was my next question, how has the music changed and what are musicians doing now
to become famous? Is it still the record labels that are making musicians famous or is it something else?

Neal: The large record company’s serve the artists at the very top of the charts their role in producing records and manufacturing
records is diminished, their brick and mortar distribution is practically gone
of course there will always be a few record stores in every city but it doesn't take the kind of money that it took to make a record in
the pre  - computer age, back then if you went into a studio and it wasn't filled and well run with a quarter million dollars worth of
equipment you couldn't make a record that was technically viable now anybody with a macbook can make a record and in terms of
distribution its like well I can make a record in the morning and put it on the Internet by the end of the day. The wild card is how do
you get people to listen.  And in the age of anybody can make records on a mac book there are many more records out there. So
theres a lot of volume and it becomes harder and harder to sort through that volume. But radio of course is always a key thing, and of
course Internet takes the place of some radio but in some places and areas radio is still a big factor. College stations and alternative
stations, but for lack of a better phrase top 40 records will always be drawing from a pool of records that are in the most popular genre
right now. Thats obviously a lot of Hip Hop influenced records  and mainstream Hip Hop artists are working with DJ’s as music
producers Katy Perry or John Mayer are an example of some who are not Hip Hop Artists but have achieved great success in the
main stream if you look at the top 40 or the top 100 your drawing a lot of Hip Hop and a lot of rock  and I think by and large when
you mentioned Tracy Chapman she followed us on Electra records and followed in the characteristic and notion that Electra records
was founded on. Now its just very different.

TNYO: Its still a mystery to allot of artists out there because I have done some interviews with some really great musicians and I don't
even know what famous is anymore because half of the stuff that I see on TV with these reality shows and reality based competition
shows in front of a group of select judges or whatever the names of these shows are for gods sakes and who ends up becoming
famous and prominent musical artists’ I still end up going back to the classics well these are the ground breakers of the music industry
and whose really being pushed and promoted now like acts such as PINK, it just becomes hard to focus.

Neal: Yes, you know I don't want to call it clutter but it becomes hard to sort through the volume and the older you are its harder to a
grasp on all the new bands you open up Rolling Stone and read a review and well this is the next great band -

TNYO: Well I guess we will see . ..

Neal: Yes well we will see but we become influenced by an era or become influenced by a moment when music was so central to your
life, and for many people it still is

TNYO: Absolutely, music is everything  - music is one of the most important things in my life - its changed my life in a million ways
and inspires me and it gives me energy that allows me to do things that I rely on the musical energy to do.
Final questions:
Rex writes the songs  - does he play the music and write the lyrics and say Neal heres the song I need you to play this on this song or
do you come up with the music?

Neal: Well he writes the melody and he writes the lyrics, he writes the song completely
and he plays it on the guitar and then he plays it for me I feel something and begin to play something or he suggests something its
somewhat of a collaborative pattern.

TNYO: so its just a real good chemistry between the two of you.

Neal: Yes I would say so.

TNYO: Can you give me some music or a song that you like to listen to?

Neal: Oh my gosh thats the hardest question because I think that if your diligent and I'm only partially diligent -  umm the longer you
listen the more you follow and evaluate the music that comes into your life so it becomes broader and broader, when I was young and
I was listening to folk rock and rock and roll but now I look at what they call the great American Song Book and Jazz Standards and
try to keep up with some new bands and try to keep up with some acoustic music - its so all over the place and also backwards -
Simon and Garfunkel influenced me and who influenced them. Which is why when I was driving down to our last gig in DC, I live in
NYC but my wife and I also have an apartment in DC
because she works there but I have been listening to a lot jazz and blues and I pulled out this binder of CD’s and I have a large
selection of compilations a huge mix of music, 3 CDs of Country and Western music a few CDs of Cassandra Wilson you know its all
over the place.

TNYO: How many shows do you do a year?

Neal: We do about 60 -  80 shows a year.

TNYO: Wow all over the US?

Neal: It tends to be more the Northeast and Florida and thats part of the story if you go back to the very beginning there were those
components that makes a success -  the radio airplay and the retail success and the live performing but we didn't put it together across
the entire United States and Europe and thats the difference with bands like America (A Horse With No Name) to pick one artist and
Aztec Two  Step  - America was top ten and you don't get into top ten ten without being in every city and every market being in sync
and saying our listeners have all agreed to help move this record into that sphere so we tend to be a little more regionalized.

TNYO: Can you pick just one song - just one song as I ask all the musicians that I interview to do this for us.

Neal: alright well I'm going to answer the question if its OK with you  - I'm going to answer a little differently and tell you the last
concert I saw, Last week I was at Jazz at Lincoln Center at what they now call the Appell Room I was there listening to Michael
Feinstein with singers that he works with playing the music of Cole Porter and it was a blast. So I guess it would be
Cole Porter  - Night and Day
( )      
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Interview With
Aztec Two-Step
What: Aztec Two-Step
When: Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 7:30 pm, doors open at 6:30 for pre-show meet & greet        
Where: SubCulture, 45 Bleecker Street New York, New York 10012
Tickets: $30.00 advance/$35.00 day of show, or  (212) 533-5470

New York, NY - Renowned folk-rock duo
Aztec Two-Step will perform on Saturday, June 14th, 7:30 pm at SubCulture, 45 Bleecker
Street New York, New York 10012, Tickets: $30 advance/ $35 at the door, or (212) 533-5470.  

Bursting on the scene in 1972 with their self-titled debut on
Elektra Records, Aztec Two-Step’s first album and three subsequent
albums for RCA Records were staples of progressive FM and college radio, and helped usher the music of the 1960s into the '70s and
beyond.  Since then, Rex Fowler and Neal Shulman have spent a lifetime making music together as the folk-rock duo that takes its
name from a poem by beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Richard Cuccaro, publisher of the esteemed NYC music magazine
Acoustic Live! states, “Aztec Two-Step is possibly the best
acoustic duo in the world today” while Variety stated, ''… the right sound at the right time … beautiful acoustic guitar playing and
questioning lyrics … songs performed with forceful vocals and near perfect instrumental harmonies.''

Recording and touring non-stop since the early ‘70s, Rex and Neal have accumulated forty-plus years of awards, accolades and TV
and radio appearances that include the David Letterman Show, World Café Live, and the King Biscuit Flour Hour, and have graced
countless stages including those of Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. In 1987, the duo's “Living In America” received the New York
Music Award for Best Folk Album and was named in Billboard’s year-end critic’s poll, and in 1999 they were the subject of  “No Hit
Wonder,” a documentary that aired on PBS.
In 2005, they released a career-defining
“Days Of Horses” CD to rave reviews. Up until this point Fowler had been the primary
songwriter of the duo, but here, five of the album’s eleven songs, including their baby boomer anthemic “Better These Days,” were
penned by Neal Shulman.  The title track “Days of Horses,” written by Rex Fowler, was used as the opening and closing music in the
2012 documentary “Selling Cars in America.” Of this CD release, the Boston Globe said, “Fans of the duo’s harmony-driven tunes
and easygoing acoustic guitar riffs will recognize their James Taylor-meets-Simon & Garfunkel sound. What’s new is the mood. This
album sits back on its haunches as Rex Fowler and Neal Shulman look back wistfully at American pop culture and their own ride
through it.”  
In 2007, the duo’s song
“The Persecution and Restoration of Dean Moriarty (On The Road),” initially released on their debut
album, was included in Rhino Records’
“Forever Changing-The Golden Age of Elektra Records 1963-1973,” the story of this
landmark record label and the music that defined an era. The song, according to Jack Kerouac’s biographer Dennis McNally, was the
first recorded about Kerouac’s iconic novel On The Road. Also in 2007, Real Simple magazine named the duo's self-titled debut as
one of the top five classic folk albums, joining works by superstars Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Tom Rush and Phil Ochs.
The duo’s 2008 live recording “Time It Was - The Simon & Garfunkel Songbook” (Red Engine Records), features narration by the
late legendary Deejay and music historian Pete Fornatale, who provided commentary and insights based on his interviews with his pals
Paul & Artie. Rex and Neal’s 1972 Elektra debut often reviewed them as having the “east coast sensibility,” “intellectual lyricism,”
and “ethereal harmonies” of Simon & Garfunkel, so to many in their field, it wasn’t surprising that they would choose to interpret and
perform the timeless songs and harmonies of their legendary predecessors.
Finally, in 2012, to commemorate their 40th Anniversary year, Rex and Neal released their 10th studio CD “Cause & Effect” (Red
Engine Records). It is a collection of 16 socially significant songs, produced by Paul Guzzone, who also produced their “Days of
Horses” CD, and features their long-time bassist Fred Holman. The album is a combination of re-worked previously recorded songs
and newly mined material.

Defined by intelligent songwriting, dazzling acoustic lead guitar & inspiring two-part harmonies, Aztec Two-Step continues to be one
of acoustic music's most respected and enduring acts, forty-plus years after Fowler and Shulman serendipitously met at an open mic at
a Boston coffeehouse.
Aztec Two-Step Website:
Aztec Two-Step Video:  (Preview)   The Persecution and Restoration of
Dean Moriarty (On The Road)
Hi & lo res photos