Breckenridge Ski Resort continues its Spring Fever free concert series Saturday, April 16 with Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real. Trombone Shorty & Orlean
by: Heather Jarvis
>When Lukas Nelson was a kid, he had a dream that changed his outlook on life. He was onstage, singing in front of a large crowd and he was terrified. As he began his ballad, he started to shrink into himself, and his awareness all went into the center of his chest.
“I started to look out at the audience through my chest, instead of through my head, through my eyes,” he said from a hotel room in Springfield, Missouri, while traveling with his father. “I started to sing basically from where my heart was.”
He describes it as a metaphorical dream, where he was able to sing and see from his heart, and the crowd went wild. He wasn’t afraid anymore, and it taught him at a young age to not only sing, but to “live my life by my heart, and not by my head.”
Living by his heart is apparent in his work, and he isn’t afraid to put it all out there. And why would he be, with a famous father well known for not only his music, but also his active vocalism for legalizing marijuana back when the stigma against the plant was still in full force. He isn’t afraid to write about wealth inequality or express his passionate views against GMOs, as reflected with his work on Neil Young’s 2015 album, “The Monsanto Years.” He will eagerly express his own theory about the company and doesn’t feel like musicians should ever be afraid to write what they believe.
“I don’t care if I lose fans because I’m speaking my mind, because I don’t agree with somebody,” he said. “If they don’t want to listen to my music because of that, then that’s just their problem.”
But it isn’t all about expressing himself politically, and growing up with Willie Nelson as a dad instilled in him a deep love of music at a young age. He picked up the guitar at 10 and almost immediately began writing songs, even producing one at a young age, “You Were It,” that impressed his father enough to put it on one of his albums.
These days, he’s touring with his band, Promise of the Real, as well as backing Neil Young, and just released a third album in March. Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real will play a free show on Peak 8 for Breckenridge Ski Resort’s Spring Fever festival on Saturday, April 16.
Promise of the Real formed seven years ago when Lukas met the drummer, Anthony LoGerfo, at a Neil Young concert, hitting it off and putting a band together.
“We just loved Neil, so we named the band Promise of the Real after one of his songs,” he said.
Lukas had met Young as a teen through his father, and when Promise of the Real formed, Young began following their work, eventually asking the group to be his band. “The Monsanto Years” was released in 2015, followed by the launch of Neil Young + Promise of the Real’s Rebel Content Tour, which included performances at Farm Aid 30 and at the 29th Annual Bridge School Benefit Concert event last year.
“So it’s kind of full circle,” Lukas said.
The Something Real tour with him and Promise of the Real has tour dates throughout May, before the band hooks up with Neil Young again for a string of dates in the summer. Promise of the Real consists of Nelson and his brother Micah Nelson on vocals and guitar, bassist/assistant engineer Corey McCormick, percussionist Tato Melgar and drummer LoGerfo.
It’s been said more than once that Lukas’ voice bears a striking resemblance to his father. He realizes that Willie Nelson has giving him a leg up in the music world and doesn’t discredit the advantages it has provided him.
“He’s my best friend, and I’ve had a lot of opportunities because I know a lot of people in the industry and in the business who have helped me,” he said. “I realize how lucky I am and try to appreciate it every day and work hard in order to take advantage of the opportunities that I’m presented with.”
“Something Real” is the band’s third album, released in March from Royal Potato Family. Describing it as “cowboy hippie surf rock,” the album was recorded two years ago at San Francisco’s William Westerfeld Mansion. Young also makes a guest vocal appearance on the track “San Francisco.” Even with Lukas’ connections, it took awhile for the record to find a label, but Lukas said he is still very happy with the songs two years later.
“I’m stoked that it came out the way it did, and I really like that it stands the test of time really, and those songs are really good,” he said. “They are good no matter what point in my career I am.”
He said the album reflects the growth of the band as musicians and songwriters. The band has been working on dozens of songs since recording “Something Real,” with about 30 songs written and 25 recorded.
“I have a lot of music right now that I really want to put out,” he said, adding that he wants to put out some songs for free download.
Lukas is also said he is in “full steam,” working with his father in the cannabis business, with the company Willie’s Reserve, and said the product is some of the best out there.
“Wait till you try it,” he said. “We’ve hand-picked our favorite people to be part of this team, and you won’t be disappointed. Nobody ever is.”