Music Spotlight: Neon Union

Jan 22, 2024 at 09:49 am by Bethany Bowman

Leo Brooks and Andrew Millsaps of Neon Union

Comprised of Leo Brooks and Andrew Millsaps, Neon Union is the most unlikely duo I have ever encountered. But once you hear them sing, you know it was meant to be.

Leo Brooks’ family hails from a small island off Honduras called Roatán. On that island, they listened to reggae and classic country. While he listened to everything on the radio, surprisingly, he learned to play by practicing the music of George Jones, Hank Williams, and Merle Haggard.

Growing up in Miami, Brooks spoke English and Spanish fluently and developed his songwriting skills at a young age while learning to play the bass guitar. His first audition was for the legendary Lauryn Hill right out of high school and eventually became her musical director. Brooks then went on to become a Grammy Award-winning collaborator for artists including Pitbull, Lauryn Hill, Jennifer Lopez, Mary J. Blige, Cee Lo Green, and John Legend. 

Conversely, Andrew Millsaps was born in Surry County, North Carolina. His town, Pilot Mountain, was the inspiration behind the fictional town of Mt. Pilot often referenced in “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Millsaps started playing guitar and writing music at the age of thirteen. Millsaps officially began his career playing for his friends and family around kitchen tables and weekend bonfires. Shortly after his high school graduation, he began performing at local venues while attending and then graduating from North Carolina State University. He was a semi-finalist in the "Music City Song Star Competition" and earned first place in the "MerleFest" Chris Austen Songwriting Contest". 

He advised, “I was always around country music, bluegrass, and all that good stuff. My dad had a guitar when I was growing up, and he'd do his best to play that thing. And I'd sit there and just you know kind of laugh and love every second of it. And he was kind of the dad that was like, "Until you can learn how to play mine, you can't have your own." So I started picking up his guitar and learning to play some stuff.

Millsaps was first drawn to songwriting because he found it easier to play his own music instead of someone else’s. He eventually got an electric guitar and put several bands together where they attempted to cover classic rock.  He thought, “Maybe I’ll move to Nashville one day.”

So how did these two end up together? In 2021, actor/singer/songwriter Aaron Benward was the person who brought the two together. They were working with Pitbull and Pitbull knew that Brooks was itching to get back to country music. Benward had the idea for the pair to give it a go.

At first, it seemed like a crazy idea. But after they met, they bonded immediately.

“It was a weird thing for somebody to introduce us and say, ‘Hey, y'all should try this thing out.’ But after it clicked and we met each other, we're like, ‘Man, we're like brothers from two different places, and this is going to work really well,’” Brooks recalled.

“It’s a God thing. He put us together,” the pair confirmed.

Listening to them talk, you know they were raised in two completely different environments. But hearing them sing, it’s the equivalent of family harmony. On their breakout single, “Beer Up” the harmony is evident, especially when they proclaim in the chorus, “We're gonna have a party/ come on, come on, get it started/ The whole damn town's invited/ So beer up, party down, bring it on…”

Neon Union has since signed with Jay DaMarcus’s Red Street Records. He was smart enough to grab them up before someone else beat him to it.

Millsaps recalled, “Leo was on his way out of town. Jay was on speakerphone and he said, ‘You boys better get your butts over here.’”

Brooks canceled his flight. They played several songs and DeMarcus signed them on the spot.

Neon Union is fortunate enough to be produced by the legendary Dan Huff, a name revered throughout the music industry. And with Brooks’ musical expertise, he helps to drive the sound that has become Neon Union.

At the end of 2022, the pair released the crowd favorite (and mine) “Bout Damn Time.” The song is a tribute to the hippy rockstar hillbillies who miss authentic country music.

They recorded their debut EP Double Wide Castle Sessions at the famed Castle Recording Studios in Nashville, Tennessee in 2023.

Millsaps explained, “The idea for that EP was for it to be kind of recorded live. We did all five songs in one day, and they were all cut with a full band, which is something that Dan (Huff) had never done. He's like, ‘Y'all are kind of changing the way I want to do things.’”

After playing with the hip-hop legends, Brooks was impressed with the talent he found in Nashville. He expounded, “This is the breath of fresh air here big time. Everybody playing in one room together. You know That's how it should be. That's how you get the feel of the music, of the song. Just everyone together, unity.”

And while Neon Union gets the crowd going with their party songs like “Redneck Rich,” they show their sentimental side with their songs “American Dirt” and the more mainstream “Country Radio Song.”

Their newest release “This Side of the Dirt” is a song about embracing what is really important while you can.

Millsaps stated, “It basically says, ‘Take this job and shove it. I'm done.’ It's more important for me to go live my life and have fun and be with someone that I love. If you had one last day on earth, spend it with somebody you love.”

Brooks agrees, “The song is a feel-good song and we're pretty much saying everyday life is a great day on this side of the dirt and spending with the ones you love and just live your life happy you know no matter what.”

Fans have spent 2023 watching Neon Union open for major acts like Hardy, Pitbull, and Scotty McCreery and can now expect even more after the duo’s recent signing with leading entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA). The redneck rowdy duo is here to stay.

To learn more about Neon Union and find out where to see a show LIVE, visit

You can follow Neon Union on Instagram, Facebook, X (Twitter), TikTok, YouTube, and all music streaming platforms.

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Bethany Bowman is a freelance entertainment writer. You can follow her blogInstagram, and X (Twitter).

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