photo: Stephen Poole
by: Sarah Gianelli
Band plays Big Sky Resort Jan. 27
JACKSON, Wyo. – Country rockers Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real had an audience of 500 out of their seats and getting down before the end of their first song, turning Jackson’s civilized Center for the Arts into a rowdy cowboy bar for the duration of their Dec. 29 performance.
They’re scheduled to bring that high energy to Big Sky Resort’s Montana Jack on Friday, Jan. 27.
The band set the tone for the night in Jackson by opening with three new rocking tracks from a yet to be titled album, scheduled for release in May 2017.
The second song, a rollicking tale called “Running Shine,” tells the story of father and son moonshiners that Nelson loosely relates to his own upbringing with father Willie Nelson.
“I’m not ‘running shine,’” he said in an interview before the show, “but I’ve immersed myself in a business that is kind of a family business; it’s kind of a circus, and my dad’s not exactly the most law abiding citizen.”
Not only did Nelson inherit a bit of his father’s rapscallion ways, iconic nasal twang and innate musicality, but also his mastery of showmanship.
Nelson and his band mates, drummer Anthony LoGerfo and bassist Corey McCormick, have no trouble filling the stage with their presence. Whether Nelson is head-banging his shaggy ‘do, picking his guitar with his teeth or doing scissor kick calisthenics with McCormick—somewhat of an athletic feat in scuffed up cowboy boots—they’re as visually engaging as they are audibly.
They’re also attuned to the fact that their audience wants to be taken for a ride, and Nelson and POTR know precisely when to bring it down a notch and insert one of Nelson’s soul-slaying ballads—especially hard-hitting for the ladies in the crowd.
Two such highlights during the Jackson show were the heart-wrenching “Sound of your Memory” and a cover of his father’s “Crazy.” The latter offered a rare chance to see Nelson take a seat at a Steinway piano and perform a duet with captivating show-opener Nicki Bluhm that, with all due respect, put Willie and Emmy Lou Harris’s version to shame.
The evening covered all the bases and hit all the right notes—from a dusty hoe-down, to sultry blues, bare bone jams, good old rock ‘n’ roll, soulful love songs and the perfectly picked and placed cover. On this night it was none other than Paul Simon’s “Graceland” hit, “Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes.”
Shannon McCormick, programming director for Jackson’s Center for the Arts, has been booking Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real for nearly a decade, and had no doubt the band would generate a sold out show.
“Every once in a while, it’s great to have a band come in here and punch us in the nose,” McCormick said. “Jackson loves that rootsy rock ‘n’ roll and that’s what Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real delivers.”
McCormick is such a fan that he’s road-tripping from Jackson to Big Sky to catch the Jan. 27 show at Montana Jack.
“That’s how excited I am about these guys,” McCormick said. “Get ready for a fun show because here it comes.”
Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real perform at Big Sky Resort’s Montana Jack on Friday, Jan. 27, at 9 p.m. For tickets and more information visit explorebigsky.com.
This show is being co-produced by Outlaw Partners (publisher of EBS) and Big Sky Resort.