We had the good fortune of connecting with Neil Newcomb and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Neil, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
Atlanta ProWinds derived from my professional career as a free-lance woodwind player, and the need for my equipment to respond in an effortless, natural way. The last concern any instrumentalist should have on a job is for their equipment to be difficult to produce their “voice”. Mechanical difficulties can lead to performance anxiety and over- compensation with the physical mechanics of being a wind player. As luck would have it, my colleagues in the performance field had the demand for the same form of attention for themselves and their students.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I can frequently be found in various orchestras across the Southern region of the United States including the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Macon Pops Orchestra, Atlanta Pops, Georgia Symphony Orchestra Big Band; as well in the pit orchestras of such theaters as the City Springs Theater Company, Atlanta Lyric Orchestra, The Fox Theater, and Alliance Theater. I have had a unique opportunity to have performed with: Ben Folds, Patti Labelle, Hugh Jackman, Marc Broussard, Gino Vannellli, Martina McBride, Frankie Valli, The Temptations, Johnny Mathis, Gregory Porter, John Schneider, Tom Wolpat, Idina Menzel, Bernadette Peters, Fantasia Barrino, Jeff Coffin, Byrun Stripling, Carl Allen, Michael W. Smith, Kurt Franklin, Michael Feinstein, Fred Wesley, Chris Vadala, Alan Baylock and Matt Catingub along with great local artists and bands such as: Russel Malone, Joe Gransden, Georgia Players Guild, Bumpin the Mango, These Crowded Streets, Blair Crimmins, and Funkcake. I think my playing career has provided with a unique perspective to know the demands of the “working class” musician. My entire team of repair technicians are successful musicians and educators in their own rights as well. We are truly unique that we do not make a living just from repair. We teach, play, and repair. Each aspect of the business we practice helps us understand and further our knowledge. We have received Best of Atlanta in Musical Instrument Repair for 2018, 2019, and 2020. I would say it has not been easy. The struggle is the balancing act of being a repair tech, musician, and business owner. It is a constant hustle to meet all the demands I have made for myself, on top of being a husband and dog dad. However, I am highly privileged to be where I am at today. I am still learning new things all the time. Currently, I am learning how to operate during a public health crisis which has greatly reduced the demand for performance and in turn repair. It is truly a unique lesson and time to develop new insights and perspective. I would like people to know that we at Atlanta ProWinds truly understand the demands of a successful performance career. We understand the need for teachers to have students who are not struggling because of the mechanics of the instrument they chose. We understand how optimum musical ability can be hampered by the instrument you play. We’re here for our community.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Obviously this year we are staying home as much as possible as to not stress the infrastructure within the city. However, during normal times. I would say if someone was coming into town for a weekend we would hit up some breakfast maybe at Ria’s Bluebird, or Bruch at One Eared Stag. We would also head over to Avondale Estates and have a nitro cold brew at Banjo Coffee. I am also partial to Pho, and there are so many different spots to grab a good bowl of noodles off Buford Highway. Maybe we would hit up the Wrecking Bar, Golden Eagle, The Porter, or Argosy. If we wanted to check out live music I would check out who would be playing and Brew and Bird, Sam Yi formally of Churchill Grounds, has been doing a great job lining up local jazz musicians, I’d also be partial to checking out Venkman’s, Cafe 290, Velvet Note, or see what is happening at the Fox. I cannot have anyone come to town without adventuring on the Belt Line. If we’re going to see a game, we are going to an Atlanta United game and then following that with Elliot Street. Atlanta United dame days at the superdome is a blast,
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I could not have grown into anything without the support of my wife and her family. They have been always supportive. I would secondly like to shoutout to my team members who are not only the best in their fields but also imperative to my development as a person and business owner: Judith Klein, Ben Davis, Francisco Lora and Sam Skelton. Furthering into my career as a musician, I would not be where I am today without the mentorship and friendship of my long time teacher Sam Skelton (Kennesaw State University) As my career as a repair technician, Wil Grizzle, is paramount, He’s one of my closest friends and still takes time to enjoy a scotch and cigar whenever we have the time. If it were not for him I would not have launched into my own company. I would also recognize the countless wonderful musicians and music educators in the state of Georgia who have graciously entrusted me with such a unique responsibility. I also cannot fail to mention the businesses that have jointly partnered with me and my team to help grow Atlanta ProWinds as a trusted brand: New School of Music, Music Go-Round, and Village Music in Avondale.
Emily Butler, Darren English