I think he’s one of the best that ever lived,” says Lukas Nelson of Neil Young’s guitar-playing abilities. Promise of the Real is backing Young on his current tour, including this recent performance at the New Orleans Jazz Fest on May 1, 2016.
hoto: Douglas Mason
by: Tzvi Glucken
Lukas Nelson is having a busy year. He and his band, Promise of the Real, recently released their third full-length album, Something Real, and hit the road in support of it. They’re also touring and recording with Neil Young as his backing band—a project they began last year with a lineup augmented to include Lukas’ brother, Micah. In addition, Lukas somehow finds time to accompany his dad, country legend Willie Nelson.
But despite his pedigree and the auspicious company he keeps, Nelson is no next-generation-of-greatness clone. While he counts his father as an obvious and huge influence, that didn’t stop him from absorbing the classic riffs and tones of artists like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix, the blues feel of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Hubert Sumlin, and the three Kings, and the improvisatory exploration of the jam-band world. His work ethic is serious, and he’s developed significant chops, killer tone, and stylistic flexibility. It didn’t hurt that he shared a stage with Buddy Guy, Young, and other titans along the way.
Something Real was recorded at the William Westerfeld House—a San Francisco landmark that was once home to Janis Joplin, jazz saxophonist John Handy, and a group of Czarist Russians following the Bolshevik Revolution. Its many rooms, nooks, and crannies provided an amazing and varied sonic environment, while its history and location provided the vibe.
We spoke with Nelson as he was traveling through the Rockies en route to Texas. Here he discusses his influences, techniques, recording approach, side projects, songwriting, and why he isn’t much of a gearhead.
It’s probably safe to assume you heard a lot of music around the house growing up. When did you start playing the guitar?
When I was 10 or 11 years old. Dad and mom never really forced it on me. They just had ’em lying around the house. It was something I could do to get closer to my dad actually, because he was gone all the time. I thought, “If I start playing guitar, maybe that’s something we can talk about.”
Listening to your music, it’s obvious you had other influences—like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.
Oh yeah, I love Sabbath. I love Zeppelin. I went to San Francisco one time and my mom got me Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix [albums]. I started listening to them and had a kind of religious experience and fell in love with them. And then I had my dad as an influence, too. So it was like a marriage of those two musical styles that I really love—rock ’n’ roll and real country music.
Billboard for tonight’s show in Belfast.
|06/10/16||LEEDS||FIRST DIRECT ARENA||TICKETS|
|06/11/16||LONDON||THE O2 ARENA||TICKETS|
|06/15/16||LYON||HALLE TONY GARNIER||TICKETS|
|06/18/16||MADRID||MAD COOL MUSIC FESTIVAL||TICKETS|
|06/23/16||PARIS||ACCOR HOTELS ARENA||TICKETS|
|07/15/16||ROME||TERME DI CARACALLA||TICKETS|
|07/16/16||LUCCA||SUMMER FESTIVAL – PLAZZA NAPOLEONE||TICKETS|
|07/18/16||MILAN||ESTATHÉ MARKET SOUND||TICKETS|
|07/20/16||LEIPZIG||VÖLKERSCHLACHTDENKMAL OPEN AIR|
Jim Eckenrode took this great picture of Lukas, at his show last month in Denver with Promise of the Real.
Lukas Nelson on guitar and vocals, Tato Melgar on percussion, Anthony Logerfo on drums, Corey McCormick, on bass.
Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real played at the Bluebird in Denver last night. What a fantastic show! The guys just get better and better and better and better, and they are so good already, that’s hard to believe.
The crowd was full of fans, lots of fans from Colorado, and also other Realers from California, Texas, Oklahoma, and beyond. Their fan base grows and grows and grows. It was fun to stand in the audience and listen to fans sing along with the hits.
Karlee Escobar, from Colorado, took these great photos, of Lukas and his new guitar he bought that day, and Corey on bass.
I took this one of Lukas.
The band has a new album out, and covered some of them last night. They sound great!
They are in the middle of their POTR tour now. And bonus — on a few of the shows, Chicago and Nashville at least, his niece Raelyn Nelson and her band will be openeing for POTR. Next month, the will join up again with Neil Young for some dates on Europe. Check out their tour dates, and go see them if you can!
Keep in touch with their website www.PromiseoftheReal.com, or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat, too.
I took this one. Lukas does an acoustic set before he invites the band out to rock with him. Take a look at this set list:
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real have a new album out. They gave us a preview at Farm Aid last year.
The band is on tour in the US, and then will join Neil Young for some European dates.
Raelyn Nelson and her amazing band is opening some shows for her uncle and his band. Check them out.
Beautiful guitar picks designed by Guthrie Thomas, with photos by Jim Eckenrode. The band gets the guitar picks, but the album is available for purchase!