Neil Young & Promise Of The Real’s first show of 2016 featured a Willie Nelson sit-in, a tribute to Merle Haggard, at Whitewater Amphitheater, New Braunfels, TX.
Neil Young & Promise Of The Real’s first show of 2016 featured a Willie Nelson sit-in, a tribute to Merle Haggard, at Whitewater Amphitheater, New Braunfels, TX.
Gates open at 6:00 and it appears one more HUGE special guest just got added to the show. ( Hint, hint below)
We still have some tickets atwww.whitewaterrocks.com .
photo: Tim Mosenfelder
by: Hector Saldona
Brothers Lukas and Micah Nelson have an enviable vantage point, standing side by side with, and witnessing the power of, two musical giants.
One of them is their father, Willie Nelson. The other is Neil Young.
Lukas and Micah front Promise of the Real, the self-described hippie-cowboy-surf-rock band that collaborated with Young on his provocative album “The Monsanto Years” and which has been serving as his fiery backing band. They arrive at Whitewater Amphitheater on Tuesday.
The tight band includes drummer Anthony LoGerfo, bassist Corey McCormick and percussionist Tato Meglar.
“It’s just incredible,” Lukas Nelson said. “I never would’ve thought growing up that music would embrace me in much the same way it embraced my dad, and not only that, but embrace my brother, too. It’s a blessing to be able to play music for a living and to be able to do it with the mentors that I’ve been blessed to know.”
But there is a difference between playing with his dad’s legendary Family Band and being on the road with Young. Lukas has expressed in interviews that being onstage with the mercurial rocker is almost an out-of-body experience.
“Every show we make leaps and bounds in terms of connection and maturity and musicianship. It’s an experience like no other,” Lukas said. “I’m just riding it like a big wave. I pinch myself every day. I ask myself whether my life is real or it’s a dream. Maybe it’s both.”
Young used similar language to describe his relationship with Promise of the Real in an interview with Rolling Stone: “I feel like I’m doing something I’ve never done before. It’s not just music. It’s a soundscape. It’s kind of like flying around and listening to things with your eyes closed.”
There’s no questioning Young’s or Willie Nelson’s vitality these days. As guitarists, the aging stars remain among the most instantly indentifiable, from Nelson’s quivering chromatic runs on Trigger, his battered Martin nylon-string guitar, to Young’s manic vibrato solos on his 1953 Gibson Les Paul electric guitar known as “Old Black.”
“My dad is probably the most able-bodied almost 83-year-old that I’ve ever come across in this world,” Lukas said. “And I think Neil is the most able-bodied 70-year-old. I mean, he’s jumping up and down, playing 3½ hour sets like we play. He’s incredible.”
The Nelson brothers really try to go with the flow. That’s meant being patient with their bands, both Promise of the Real and Micah’s trippier Insects vs. Robots, as they do gigs with Young that, Lukas said, “feel like family.” In May, Promise of the Real will tour to support its new album, “Something Real,” and then it’s off to Europe with Young.
“You just do what feels right in every moment. And it feels right to play with Neil, and it feels right, every chance that I can, to play with my dad,” Lukas said.
At last year’s all-star tribute to their dad, who was the 2015 recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, the brothers performed “Living in the Promised Land” with him.
There was a real tenderness and sweetness there at the Library of Congress gig — up to a point.
“We just go out there and do it,” Lukas said. “Dad’s never been one for pow-wows, and neither have we. We just kind of let the spirit take us and trust that it’s gonna come out good.”
That goes for the Young concerts, which start out with Young solo on acoustic guitar for a few songs and then build from there.
But that could change.
“That’s just how it’s been. It could be completely different next time we get on the stage,” Lukas said, explaining that each night’s set is drawn from a list of about 80 songs the band had to learn. The shows run long because “it’s rock ’n’ roll,” he said.
“I love playing his music. It’s like playing my own music … because I’ve been so close to his music for so long. Playing those songs is just — there’s nothing better. It’s like playing with my dad, in a way, because I grew up with it so deeply. It’s part of this crazy dream.”
photo: Suzanne Cordiero
by: Patrick Doyle
About seven years ago, Lukas Nelson went to see his hero, Neil Young play in Los Angeles. At the show, he happened to meet a drummer named Anthony LoGerfo. They took the party to a friend’s house, where they surfed and played music late into the night. Soon, they’d formed a band, Promise of the Real, their name taken from a lyric Young’s 1974 epic “Walk On:” (“Some get stoned/ some get strange/ but sooner or later, it all gets real.”)
Now, for the last two years, the “cowboy hippie surf rock” band has been Young’s band on the road and in the studio, backing him on last year’s The Monsanto Years. “You couldn’t write it in a book,” Nelson says. “The vibe is perfect, and it’s real. We’ve learned from each other, and we’ve gotten so tight. I don’t want to stop, and I don’t think Neil does either. There’s transcendental experiences on stage with Neil. Like, you’re looking down at yourself and you’ll be like, ‘Oh my God. I’m down there, and I’m up here. What’s going on?'”
For Nelson, this chapter is the culmination of years of hard work and hard touring for his band, which includes LoGerfo, bassist Corey McCormick, percussionist Tato Meglar, plus Lukas’ brother Micah on guitar and other instruments – when he’s not touring with his own project, Insects vs Robots. Lukas grew up on the island of Maui, Hawaii, a student of the island’s jam band scene and his guitar teacher, gypsy-jazz virtuoso Tom Conway. There was also his dad, Willie Nelson. By 14, Lukas was playing guitar with his father on summer school breaks, occasionally sitting in with his dad’s touring partner, Bob Dylan. Willie’s Number One rule at home while Lukas was growing up: “Don’t be an asshole.”
“My dad and I are alike in a lot of ways,” he says. “I’ve always looked up to him, and I’ve always wanted to be like him, in terms of being a human being, and also in terms of being a musician. I’m lucky to have such a great example.”
To record their new album, Something Real, Nelson and his band moved to San Francisco, living and working in a 19th-century Victorian mansion. “The vibe was so deep and heavy,” Nelson says. “It used to be a Russian embassy. It was one of the first places ever to have a radio signal come out of. It could have been the first radio signal ever to come out of a tower there, in the mansion. And I mean, it’s got old gramophones in it.” They built a studio and utilized the house’s equipment, like a century-old pump organ, which can be heard on their menacing album closer, a cover of Scott McKenzie’s 1967 classic “San Francisco,” with vocals from Young himself.
Nelson pulled from his experiences in San Francisco while writing the LP. The song “Forget About Georgia” is about a woman named Georgia he met during his time in the city. “She kind of broke my heart,” he says. “And I felt like, ‘Wow. This girl twisted me around.’ And I was in love with her.” Nelson’s heartbreak worsened when he hit the road with his father, and he had to play “Georgia on my Mind” on stage every night. “We’d play that song, and I’d be thinking about her. And I’d be like, ‘Fuck, I can’t forget about this girl. I just wanna let it go.'”
Another defining moment came one day when Nelson was walking in the Tenderloin neighborhood, and he overheard a homeless man say, “Today was an ugly color.” It inspired him to write the seven-minute ballad, “Ugly Color,” about the cruelty in the world from the perspective of the man, which peaks with a searingly melodic solo. “There was a period during that guitar solo that something else took over, and just came through the band,” Nelson says. “It was like we were channeling some deep-seated sorrow and longing, from the city of San Francisco itself.”
In June, Promise of the Real play a handful of dates with Young (including New Orleans’ Jazz Fest) before a longer run in Europe. Earlier this month, Young said he was nearly finished with his second album with the group, calling his connection with them “effortless.”
“I feel really good and amped and energized,” Young says. “And I feel like I’m doing something I’ve never done before. It’s not just music. It’s a soundscape. It’s kind of like flying around and listening to things with your eyes closed.”
Nelson says he’s certainly learned quite a bit from Young. “Neil is one of the sharpest tools you’ll ever meet. He’s detail-oriented. It’s cool to watch him be so involved, to tell the crew that they’ve gotta dress up and put a hazmat suit on and all that. I love watching it. I love being a part of it.”
“We’ll warm up vocally 30 minutes before every show,” says Nelson. “Doesn’t matter what show it is, doing it causes you to really lock in with your band, too. You just lock right in, and you go right out to stage. Neil, without fail, will do that every show, and I think it’s brilliant. I think it really brings people together.”
But before that, the Promise of the Real will head out in May on their biggest headlining U.S. tour yet. Nelson is looking forward to building the connection he’s forged with his audience. “I went and saw this psychic one time, and she told me that I was good at bringing people into this holographic bubble of energy,” he says. “I don’t know that a psychic is something that I would base my life decisions on, but I do think it was cool, the way she described it. It’s like you’re creating your own virtual reality area for the three hours that the music is playing, and you’re bringing all these people into this little holographic world where everybody kind of feels similar. You just get lost.”
See more photos, read more here.
Such great music at Whitewater Amphitheater in April! Willie Nelson & Family and Merle Haggard are performing three nights on April 15, 16, 17th, and Neil Young, with Lukas and Micah Nelson are performing there on April 26, 2016! With Lucinda Williams! Wow.
Get your tickets and more information:
n his latest studio album, 2015’s The Monsanto Years, Neil Young was backed by Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real, the roots-rock band led by Willie Nelson‘s son Lukas, and now the folk-rock legend has returned the favor. Young makes a guest appearance on Promise of the Real’s forthcoming third album, Something Real, which will be released on March 11.
Neil lends vocals to a cover of the late Scott McKenzie‘s 1967 Flower Power anthem “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair).”
In addition to playing on The Monsanto Years, Promise of the Real served as Young’s touring band for most of 2015, and also will accompany Neil on the road this year. Young’s current 2016 itinerary features a May 1 performance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and a series of European shows that run from June 5 concert in Glasgow, Scotland, through a July 23 performance in Klam, Austria.
WATCH & SHARE our new video, a behind the scenes look of Neil Young+ Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real’s The Monsanto Years Tour. The album and tour shine a spotlight on the struggles American farmers are facing at the hands of agrochemical corporations.
Fans are listening – but we need everyone to know about the importance of choosing #organic. Share and help us go viral!
Lukas and Micah Nelson are sharing pictures on Facebook from Paris, where they are on tour with Neil Young and Promise of the Real.
Lukas Nelson on Facebook:
My band #promiseofthereal with #neilyoung will be on #PBS today doing a tribute to my father #willienelson for his Gershwin Award at 9/8pm central time today. Don’t miss it
Neil Young & Promise Of The Real finds the legendary rocker joined by a backing band featuring Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real. The group embarked on two legs of the Rebel Content Tour in 2015 and it appears they will hit the road once again next year.
German fan site Rusted Moon found ticketing links showing Neil Young & Promise Of The Real will play two shows in Germany next summer as part of the band’s debut European Tour. The first of the two performances will take place at Völkerschlachtdenkmal in Leipzig on July 20, while the second is set for Berlin’s Waldbühne on July 21. As for now, the two German performances are the only confirmed 2016 shows for Neil Young & Promise Of The Real but look for additional announcements soon.
All these photos are by Janis Tillerson.
Neil Young, Lukas Nelson, Micah Nelson and Promise of the Real (Tato Melgar, Anthony Logerfo and Corey McCormick), performed at the tribute concert for Willie Nelson. They opened the show, appropriately with ‘Whiskey River’ and ‘Stay All Night.
Janis Tillerson, took all these great pictures for us to enjoy.
Something great happened in Washington DC this week. History was made, and it had nothing to do with any bills pending or anything else the lawmakers did this week, if anything. This week Willie Nelson was honored with the the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. He is only the seventh artist to receive the prestigious award, and the first and only country music artist to receive it. The presentation came in the middle of a musical tribute to Willie Nelson, by over a dozen artists. The concert and award presentation were filmed, and will air on PBS on January 15th.
The Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, named after songwriting team George and Ira Gershwin, celebrates a living performer and/or composer’s “lifetime achievement in promoting song to enhance cultural understanding; entertaining and informing audiences; and inspiring new generations,” according to the Library of Congress website.
It was magical night, watching the amazing group of artists gathered to honor Willie Nelson and show their respect and love to him. Each sang a song written or recorded by Willie Nelson.
The event was held in the Daughters of Revolution Constitution Hall. Built in 1928, it is the only structure ever erected in tribute to the Constitution. It’s the largest concert hall in DC, too.
Willie and Annie were seated in the hall to watch the concert, from a private box, close to the stage. They came out about 10 minutes before the show started, and as soon as they sat down the audience on the floor under them surged over to take pictures with their cell phones. It was such a familiar site, fans drawn close to Willie when he shows up. But it was fun to see the movers and shakers and law makers of Washington DC wanting to be close to Willie. I get it. Boots and cowboy hats, or three-piece suits and women in pearls — it doesn’t matter. Everyone loves Willie Nelson. There was a stream of fans who came over and lined up by Willie in his private box, and he kindly signed programs, agreed to selfies and hugs. That would have gone on forever, if they hadn’t made an announcement and asked people to take their seats the show was about to begin.
It was so moving to see all these amazing, talented, artists come out and bow to Willie, throw kisses and tip their hats, if they have a hat. There was so much respect. Don Was was the musical director, and played stand up bass for the event. He had a familiar group of Nashville artists on stage with him, and Mickey Raphael, Willie’s harmonica player stood in, too. Mark Rothbaum, Willie’s Management, was one of the producers of the event. I don’t know which musical genius selected the songs that the artists performed, but it was great. They dug deeper and dug way back into his massive catalog and picked songs not as often covered by other artists.
Slide shows were played between some of the songs. Starting in Abbott, Texas, the slide show takes us through Willie’s musical legacy, family and good causes. Willie wife Annie talks about they met on the filming of a movie. Friends Kris Kristofferson and Owen Wilson were in the film, telling stories about Willie Nelson and of their love and appreciation for their friendships. Owen’s brother Luke, and a few other famous faces I recognized were in the audience, along with other celebrities and law makers.
Neil Young, Lukas Nelson, Micah Nelson and Promise of the Real kicked off the festivities with a rambling spriited version of “Whiskey River”, just like Willie Nelson kicks off his dance parties. Then they sang a favorite, “Stay All Night”, a nod to Bob Wills and his music, who Willie names as one of his musical influences.
Master of Ceremonies Don Johnson was introduced next. “Only Willie Nelson an bring together Republicans and Democrats.”
Like most of the artists, the actor, singer, told stories about Willie Nelson, their friendship and their projects together.
Leon Bridges performed next, with a beautiful, soulful rendition of ‘Funny, How Time Slips Away”.
Mickey got long extended applause and cheers for his beautiful solo in the song.
The third performer to honor Willie was Raul Malo, of the Mavericks. What a beautiful voice! He sang ‘Crazy’, with the person who wrote ‘Crazy’, sitting right above him watching. How crazy is that.
Paul Simon and Edie Brickell sang a beautiful selection from Willie Nelson’s ‘Red Headed Stranger’ album, “Remember Me”. Paul was last year’s recipient of the award.
Rosanne Cash threw kisses at Willie Nelson and called him, “Maestro”. Then she sang, “Pancho and Lefty” the big hit from Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.
After Rosanne sang, they read a letter from President Carter, talking about their friendship.
“Although we regret we couldn’t be with you today, Rosalynn joins me in congratulating you on receiving the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize, a prestigious and well-deserved award. Your music has enriched the lives of people far and wide for decades, and it is only fitting that your life’s work be honored in this way.
Your friendship has been important to us for over 30 years, and we were proud to host you at the White House and in Plains. We also loved having you in Oslo for the Nobel Peace Price concert in 2002. Your music has become the soundtrack of our lives, and we are pleased to see your tremendous talent recognized today.
Please know you have our warm best wishes on this special occasion, and we hope to see you soon!
Appropriately after President Carter’s letter was read, Jamey Johnson performed, “Georgia.”
Jamey looked handsome in his tuxedo and braided beard.
All the performers paid their respects to Willie Nelson when they came on stage. It was really moving.
Mickey Raphael’s solo on “Georgia” was so beautiful, drew a long extended applause.
Up Next, Harry Weinstein, multi-platinum-selling, entertainer, shared a Gershwin Moment, and broke into a few acapela verses of “Someone to Watch Over Me”. Willie recorded the song on the Stardust album in 1978 and it sold millions, and stayed on the charts for several years. Weinstein, dubbed “The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook, spoke of the Stardust album, and how Willie Nelson helped bring back popularity of America’s songbook. Weinstein serves on the Library of Congress‘ National Recording Preservation Board, an organization dedicated to ensuring the survival, conservation and safeguarding of America’s musical heritage
Recognizing that Willie Nelson has done many other great and important things as well as his musical gift to the world, they played a video of Willie Nelson’s involvement with Farm Aid, with footage from the concerts.
The amazingly beautiful Alison Krauss performed, “Angel Flying Too Close to the Sun,” that gave everyone goosebumps.
Then, Jamey Johnson joined Allison on, “Seven Spanish Angels”, the song that Willie Nelson recorded with Ray Charles and made so famous.
Next, Mexican singer and songwriter Ana Gabriel, from Santiago de Comanito, Sinaloa, Mexico, was introduced. She sang one of the most beautiful songs of the night, “I Never Cared For You,” by Willie Nelson, in Spanish. I don’t know what musical genius had that idea, but it was great. So beautiful.
Next, a video played about Willie Nelson and his contribution to the long running televisions show from Texas, “Austin City Limits.” They showed footage of actor Matthew McConnaughy introducing Willie, when he was inducted into the innaugeral Austin City Limits Hall of Fame, with another concert in tribute to Willie Nelson, when EmmyLou Harris, and Lyle Lovett performed.
The 11th performance of the night was by Buckwheat Zydeco, joined by Paul Simon. They sang a rousing version of “Man With the Blues”, which Willie Nelson wrote, and first recorded as a single in 1959 (B-side: ‘The Storm Has Just Begin.’) He later re-recorded it in 1976. Buckwheat’s accordians were so perfect on this song, just another demonstration of how universal Willie Nelson’s music is, and how genre-less it really is.
After another tribute video to Willie Nelson, the award presenters were announced and took the stage. Official Librarian of Congress, David Mao and several lawmakers presented the award to Willie Nelson.
After Willie Nelson accepted the award, he did what he has been doing for over sixty years, he entertained his fans. He first sang the timely song, “Living in the Promise Land.” At a time when countries all over the world are closing borders and turning away refugees, Willie sang so clearly that there is still a lot of love and room for everyone, living in the Promiseland. Willie doesn’t only talk about his beliefs, he sings about them and lives them. .
Then Willie Nelson introduced Cyndi Lauper and told the audience that the two of them recorded a song for a Gershwin Tribute album, ‘Summertime’, that will be released early next year. They sang a playful version the famous George and Ira Gershwin brothers’ song, “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.” After the song, they got a call from the engineer in the sound booth outside who reported a problem and asked that it be sung again. Everyone loved watching them perform the song again. .
All the artists gathered with Willie at the end of the show for, “On the Road Again.” It was a little strange, no one in the audience stood up to dance, but maybe they don’t stand up and dance at concerts in DC, I don’t know. It was hard for me to sit still, but I behaved myself.
At the end of the show, after the finale, Willie Nelson acknowledged everyone who had performed. They lined up like the fans that we all ares., for hugs and kisses.
Raul Malo Neil Young and Lukas Nelson Jamie Johnson .
At the end of the show, Willie spread his arms and said, “I’m sorry, but there was some trouble with the sound, and we’re going to have to do the show again.” Everyone cheered, we would have all sat there gladly for a do-over.
All the performers came out on stage to sing ‘On the Road Again’ with Willie Nelson, Lukas Nelson, Micah Nelson and Mickey Raphael. So much love and appreciation on stage .
Thanks to Jeremy Tepper for this panoramic photo from the event.