The first time AXS experienced Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real (POTR) live was in 2010 when they took the stage without an introduction as B.B. King’s opening band. The lead singer had a very familiar vocal timbre that caused everyone to wonder who was singing. Midway through the set, it was apparent where the familiar voice came from. Lukas Nelson has come a long way since then. AXS was able to catch Lukas Nelson and PTOR live at an early set at 2018’s Country Thunder Festival and here are five reasons to catch them live.
1) Because it’s Lukas Nelson
Let’s not overplay the Willie Nelson card too much. Once you get beyond the vocal familiarity, Lukas has his own identity and style. He can play and sing country music as well if not better than any young performer out there. He still performs with his father plenty and his dad was his first teacher. His blues chops are undeniable and he plays guitar with another very famous blues influence. “Four Letter Word” was an example of his blues guitar “licks.” He wore his best Jimi Hendrix tee shirt that was a reminder of one of his other favorite influences.
2) Promise of the Real
The band is showcased as much as Nelson. All are master musicians and they have the charisma to go with their talent. Everyone looks forward to the ‘Lukas leap’ during the show. One never knows when that is going to happen. Bass player, Corey McCormick, has started doing the leap with Nelson or alone during the show. Percussionist, Tato Melgar, and drummer, Anthony LoGerfo, started the band with Nelson ten years ago. Newbies, Jesse Siebenberg on guitar and Keyboardist Logan Metz rounded out the band for the show.
3) Nelson is a very compelling songwriter
He wrote his first song at age 11. Nelson’s most recent album, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real contains mostly self-penned music. In a recent interview Nelson spoke of his writing process “I start by imagining the song being played on a live setting.” Songs are often written in his head before anything goes on paper. He introduced set’s opener, “Entirely Different Stars” was inspired by an episode of Rick and Morty. The song is a hard rocking song that slows down to a waltz. A classic line in “Four Letter Word” is “It’s only been two years and she already beats my dog.”
There were two cover songs in the set, Tom Petty’s “American Girl” and Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia On My Mind.” The trick about doing covers songs is to do them as good or better than the originals. Nelson has that mastered as well.
4) Nelson and POTR are Neil Young’s band
Young caught POTR’s live show at Farm Aid a few years ago and he started communicating with Nelson via email. That led to POTR recording The Monsanto Years with Young. From there, POTR became Young’s touring band. Musically it has been a match made in heaven and no doubt the band has learned a lot from the rock legend.
5) POTR performed the best set of the day at Country Thunder
The midday set drew one of the largest crowds seen at the large stage at that time slot. Most folks are still sleeping off the previous days’ libations. The full-throttle performance was a crowd favorite of a day that featured Jason Aldean, Drew Baldridge, Tracy Lawrence, Neal McCoy and many more great country acts. The entertainment continued past midnight, but the memory of experiencing Lukas Nelson and POTR has lingered on. For a complete set list, please click here.