From a young age, Nelson was exposed to all sorts of terrific music courtesy of his father, who also introduced him first-hand to some of the world’s most famous musicians. At this point, it’s worth noting that his dad is the legendary Willie Nelson.
So imagine the soulful voice of Willie Nelson mixed with the rock music of Tom Petty and Neil Young and the jazz of Django Reinhardt, and you’ll get an idea of the sound created by Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real.
Lukas Nelson and POTR will perform at 9:30 p.m. Saturday on the main stage of the Blue Ridge BBQ & Music Festival in Tryon, N.C.
The peculiar name of Lukas Nelson’s band came from listening to and being inspired by the music of Young.
“The feelings and inspiration we got from his music is what led us to the name Promise of the Real,” Nelson said. “Neil is authentic. I love the concept of being real rather than perfect.
“People in the music industry are so focused on being perfect; they pay tons of money to sound perfect. Everyone has a dark and a light side, (and) real music is like that. It’s not perfect.”
Much of Lukas Nelson’s music focuses on the authentic. Everything from the instrumentation to the lyrics is simple and intended to move people to thought and experience.
“There are so many variables in a song,” he said. “I write about what I’m feeling, thinking or experiencing. It takes me a half an hour to write a song. I try not to overthink it. I just let it happen.”
Nelson attributes much of who he is today to his father.
Willie Nelson “is the biggest musical influence, not only musically, but also as a person,” he said. “He lives his life in a good way, if there can be a good way.”
Despite having a famous father, Lukas Nelson has made his own way through the music industry. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t look to his dad as a source of inspiration and admiration.
“I admire Dad’s ability to engage and connect to the audience,” Lukas Nelson said. “He really relates to them through his stage presence and his writing as well. There’s a lot to appreciate about him. He speaks to people on so many levels.”
After dropping out of college and being inspired by the life of the Buddha, Lukas Nelson left the comfortable life he had known as Willie Nelson’s son to experience the life of a man who had nothing but his friends, his car and the clothes on his back.
“I see parallels between everyone and the Buddha and Christ,” Lukas Nelson said. “They were both teaching against this separatist idea. You know Christ called people to follow the kingdom of heaven, not him. Leaving everything behind hasn’t really changed me.
“But it has made me more aware that things are the way they’re supposed to be and to accept that without trying to make everything right. Good and evil will always exist together; you can’t have one without the other. If people accept that, there would be a lot less anxiety.”
Music has always been Lukas Nelson’s life from the moment he was born to the time a guitar was put into his hand. But, while speaking from a golf course, he said that sports would be his other career path if not for music.
“I was on the swim team as a kid. I was pretty good at freestyle, and I loved butterfly,” Lukas Nelson said. “I wanted to go into the Olympics. I also played on the soccer team. I guess I would’ve been an athlete of some sort. Music and sports aren’t polar opposites. They’re very similar; they both have a rhythm.
“At the end of the day, music is something that I do. Music is the world. We are all a collection of vibrating atoms that emit a frequency.”