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Last Call: Neal Casal and the Dangerous Thing We’re Afraid to Talk About
Neal Casal Neal Casal and John Bohlinger share a laugh during the filming of the Chris Robinson Rig Rundown in Nashville in 2016.

Mental health issues affect millions of people. Let’s talk about how we can help each other before it’s too late.

Neal Casal and I met in 2010 on the set of the movie Country Strong, an age-old portrait of a train-wreck musician (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) spiraling toward her tragic demise. The director wanted realism, so she hired real musicians (Neal on guitar, me on bass) for Gwyneth's band. In between takes, Neal and I jammed, traded dry jokes, and shared a lot of laughs. After the movie wrapped, we stayed in contact, hung when he was in Nashville, and Neal contributed photos to my column. Two years ago, we filmed a Rig Rundown with his band, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. It appeared that Neal was thriving ... then he killed himself last August.

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