Shedding Light in the Darkness

Neil Young & Promise of The Real


After touring Europe with Neil Young to rave reviews and delivering an incendiary show backing the rock legend at the Desert Trip Festival concerts in October, Lukas Nelson and Promise Of The Real bring their “Something Real Tour” to Maui this weekend.

Reviewing Desert Trip a Forbes review praised: “Backed by Promise Of The Real, highlighted by Lukas Nelson’s insane guitar work, Young made sure the weekend stayed magical with “Cowgirl In The Sand” and “Like A Hurricane” both extended into incredible guitar jams that, under the desert sky, could only be called transcendent. His live show rivaled any band on tour today for intensity, power and musicality.”

“It was amazing, what an experience, it was crazy,” says Lukas about Desert Trip. “We put on a great performance. We definitely played one of the best shows we’ve ever played with Neil.”

The once-in-a-lifetime festival featured an iconic lineup of Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, the Who, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, and Young with Promise Of The Real. “I enjoyed everything from Dylan to Roger Waters,” Lukas adds. “I got to meet Keith Richards for the first time, which was great. I got to hang out with Roger Waters. Paul McCartney loved us and we hung out quite a bit. It was really cool.”

With Micah Nelson on guitar and vocals, drummer Anthony LoGerfo, bassist Corey McCormick, and percussionist Tato Melgar, Promise Of The Real has been backing Young on tour since 2015, and on the albums “The Monsanto Years” and the live “Earth.” Lukas says the group has, “been doing a lot of recording lately, for what Neil is going to put out. The whole band has become close with Neil. We’re pretty aligned ideologically.”

Energized by this younger group of musicians, Young has reported, “I love all the bands I have played with, but this band is epic.”

Hearing the first couple of tracks on POTR’s latest album “Something Real,” you can understand why Young feels the future of rock n’ roll is in good hands. They’re passionate, primal rockers that recall the might of legends like Led Zeppelin and Cream.

And, as an AllMusic review noted: “slower tracks like ‘Set Me Down on a Cloud’ and the beautiful ‘(Forget About) Georgia,’ showcase the nuances of Nelson’s fine guitar work, unique vocal presence, and overall song craft.”

Recorded in one of San Francisco’s 19th-century Victorian mansion (where Janis Joplin once lived), the band closes the album with a cover version of Scott McKenzie’s 1967 classic “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair),” that includes Young on vocals.

A counter-cultural anthem, as performed by POTR, it’s transformed into a kind of lament or elegy for a past time and city now dominated by the tech boom, with Lukas opening the song wistfully singing the lyrics while playing a pump organ.

“It’s got some sadness,” he explains. “It reminds you that there’s so much going on there in terms of gentrification.”

POTR will head out with Young next year touring Australia and New Zealand, including playing the massive Byron Bay Bluesfest, which will also include Maui resident Pat Simmons with the Doobie Brothers and Hawaii’s uke wiz Jake Shimabukuro.

A new POTR album will likely be released in the spring of 2017. It includes the new track “Just Outside of Austin,” with Lukas and Micah’s dad Willie Nelson helping out and aunt Bobbie Nelson on piano. And for those needing a little uplift in these challenging times, Lukas just posted some soul medicine, a beautiful new song “We’ll be Alright,” on the band’s Facebook website. Plus there’s a lovely version of Neil Young’s “I Am a Child,” dedicated to the children of the Montessori School of Maui.

AND this from 2012

Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder is on the phone calling into the SiriusXM satellite radio studios in New York in May, where Willie Nelson and his two sons Lukas and Micah are helping their dad promote his latest “Heroes” album.
He’s calling because the album includes an incredibly moving version of his song “Just Breathe,” featuring a duet between the country legend and Lukas.
“I can’t thank you enough,” Vedder says about probably the best cover of a Pearl Jam song anyone has so far recorded.
“I thought dad would love it,” says Lukas, who brought the song to his father’s attention. “I thought we would sound good doing it together.”
“It was cool that Eddie really liked it,” adds Micah.

Both brothers perform on their dad’s album. Like their father, both are phenomenally talented, each now carving a unique career path.
While Lukas fronts the band Promise of the Real on the world stage, Micah pursues a less publicized, though no less impressive path, as an innovative, multi-media artist.
Growing up often on the road with their iconic father, it was natural for both to play music.

“My dad wanted me to learn how to play guitar and I was happy to oblige,” Lukas recalls. “I went in through the back door in terms of musical influences. I really got passionate about guitar listening to Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan (suggested by his mom, Annie Nelson), and later on I started to really get into my dad’s music. I was always singing or doing something, but I didn’t know I was going to do it as a career.”

For Micah, who performs with the band Insects vs. Robots and releases trippy sound collages as the Particle Kid, the stage first lured him as a three-year-old playing harmonica alongside Mickey Raphael in his dad’s band.
“I did that for a long time,” he recalls. “It gave me a good sense of melody, and then on Maui when my brother picked up guitar, I said, I guess I’ll start playing the drums.”

In time they became integral members of a couple of Maui-based bands, Harmonic Tribe and 40 Points, then Lukas and long-time friend/percussionist Tato Melgar went on to form Promise of the Real.


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