CONCERT PREVIEW: Lukas Nelson continues superstar legacy begun by Willie

Lukas Nelson
Lukas Nelson PHOTO BY MYRIAM SANTOS
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real bring their country-and-rock hybrid to Union Transfer in Philadelphia Nov. 14.
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real bring their country-and-rock hybrid to Union Transfer in Philadelphia Nov. 14. PHOTO BY JACOB BLICKENSTAFF

IF YOU GO

What: Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, with opener Nikki Lane.

When: 8:30 p.m. Nov. 14.

Where: Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., Philadelphia.

Tickets: $20.

Info.: www.utphilly.com, (215) 232-2100.

When Lukas Nelson sings, there’s no denying who his father is.

One of Willie Nelson’s two musical sons, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real bring their country-and-rock hybrid to Union Transfer in Philadelphia Nov. 14. “I’d say I’m the band leader, but we’re definitely a band. We all speak the same musical language,” said Nelson in a phone interview from Champaign, Ill.

When asked what the most important thing was that his father taught him, Nelson commented, “Dad’s such a great human being,” and replied that it was “being yourself — staying true to your (artistic) values ... That’s what Promise of the Real is.”

Father and son often collaborate on each other’s musical projects. Nelson and his brother, Micah Nelson (who goes by the name Particle Kid), toured together this summer on the Outlaw Music Festival with Willie Nelson, Eric Church, Sheryl Crow, The Avett Brothers and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. “We played early in the afternoon, but we got a great crowd and standing ovations,” he said, adding that one of his favorite parts of the tour was an onstage jam with Sheryl Crow paying tribute to Gregg Allman.

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More recently the Nelson brothers played and sang with their legendary father on a newly released album of classic country covers “Willie’s Stash, Vol. 2: Willie Nelson and the Boys.”

Speaking of collaboration, Promise of the Real has also been Neil Young’s go-to backing band the last two years — a dream come true for Nelson. “It’s just special. There’s nothing like it. It’s the great joy of my life,” he said.

After seeing Nelson and Promise of the Real at the Desert Trip concert, actor Bradley Cooper recruited him to get involved in the upcoming film he’s directing and starring in — a remake of the movie classic “A Star is Born,” which also features Lady Gaga. Also, Lady Gaga sings on the version of “Find Yourself” on the latest self-titled album by Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real.

“Gaga and Bradley are good friends of mine. I wrote a lot of the music (for the movie). (The band) we’re in it too,” he said.

In a surreal twist, Nelson also appears on a song on the “My Little Pony — The Movie” soundtrack called “Neighsayer.” That took place thanks to a mutual friend Nelson and Lady Gaga share in songwriter/producer Paul “DJ White Shadow” Blair, who was looking for a country-flavored song for the film’s soundtrack. “I wrote (Lady Gaga’s single) ‘The Cure’ with him and Gaga,” Nelson said.

Did he always have an inkling he’d be a musician?

Yes, but it took a while before he fully committed to it. In 2007 Lukas attended Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. But a year later, after meeting drummer Anthony LoGerfo at a Neil Young concert, he dropped out of school and started the band. Nelson shared that a romantic breakup contributed to his decision to drop out of college.

“Love is a lesson in letting go, whether the short-term or the long-term,” he said. “Anybody who comes into my life, and comes to stay, is kind of a bonus.”