Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real @ Pappy & Harriet’s Thursday, August 13th, Doors Open 7pm

by Lisa Morgan

That’s about the only “selling out” you will ever find Lukas Nelson and his tribe of otherworldly Apollonian band mates doing.  They named the band the Promise of the Real for their commitment to authenticity in their music. Sure they may have opened for Lukas’ dad, Willie, in the beginning, but they sold their first EP, live tracks recorded off the soundboard at the world famous “Belly Up” in Solana Beach, California, in order to support their touring costs.  And I don’t care whose son you are, BB King doesn’t tour with slouches.  Having followed Nelson and his band brothers since their beginning, it has become quite clear that the only birthright claimed by this son of true music legend was the opportunity to learn from some of the best and apply his intense work ethic to it.

Having toured with Neil Young over the past several months, the lessons on every level have been incredible, and the gracious troubadour took time to talk to me about it as he and his bus sat on the top of a mountain in Colorado, broke down.

 CVW:  I have to ask you, how is it touring with Neil Young or “Uncle Neil” as you call him?


Nelson:  “It’s just amazing.  Neil’s a magical guy; he’s like a wizard. He’s very conscientious as well, and we all have that in common.  It’s made me even more humble to life.  I mean, holy shit, why me? There are so many great musicians out there.  I got to know Neil kind of through dad. I mean, I met him every year at Farm Aid, but then he kind of took notice of the band. He came up to me actually one year, and said, ‘Hey you guys are really good!’ I said, ‘Thanks.’  Eventually he asked us to play with him.”

“I’ve been given so many opportunities, being the son of dad.  I just feel incredibly blessed and lucky to not only be loving music, but to be able to learn from these incredible masters of the art. I was born lucky I guess, but I work really hard. I practice every day.  I think people finally took notice mostly because we just worked so hard.  We’ve been a band for a long time, we’ve stuck it out together, we’ve stuck to what we believe in, and we’re not afraid to say what we feel and stand up for what we agree on.”

CVW:  You are obviously a successful vocalist and songwriter, but your guitar chops are incredible. How did you and your guitar playing evolve?

Nelson:  “My dad never nagged me to play.  He never pushed me to do anything musically.  He always left instruments around the house, but he never pushed.  One day I picked up a guitar and I was playing with it when I asked him what he wanted for his birthday. He said he wanted me to learn to play guitar.  So as a birthday present for him, I learned to play a few chords. I don’t remember what exactly… I think it was something simple like “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.”

“Everybody helped school me – my dad, everyone I listened to and watched, and the people I grew up around in Hawaii like Tom Conway and Donnie Smith. I learned how to be in a band from my dad’s harmonica player.  I learned from everybody.”

CVW:  Your dad has a signature guitar, do you?

Nelson:  “I have got three main guitars.  Two are Fender Strats. I have an American Fat Strat named Bonnie, a red Strat named Christina, and a 1956 Les Paul Junior named Georgia.

CVW:  The last album you played and sang on is Neil Young’s, The Monsanto Years. Will there be a new album from POTR soon in spite of your intense touring schedule?

Nelson:  “Touring is just a way of life.  Even when I’m not working, I’m working – thinking, you know. I’m never hurting for songs. I always have material.  The new album will be released this year.  We’re getting together in the next couple of weeks to come up with a plan out to get it out there.”

Opening for POTR will be Micah Nelson’s band, Insects & Robots. His big brother is heavy on the accolades when he talks about how talented his little brother and band are.  Although the show this week at Pappy & Harriet’s is sold out, facilities will be set up and a bartender will be on duty in the beer garden outside for all the people coming up that can’t buy a ticket.  In the meantime, follow Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real on social media (specifically Facebook) and you will be treated to some songs Lukas generously puts out there. And next time, get your tickets early for any show at Pappy’s, but especially for this phenomenal band whose world wide popularity is growing rapidly.