November 2, 2012 in Features

Half Nelson

When it comes to music, Lukas Nelson has followed a different path than dad Willie
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real will perform at Sandpoint’s Panida Theater on Saturday.
(Full-size photo)

If you go

Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Panida Theater, 300 N. First Ave., Sandpoint

Cost: $22.50-$25, available at 4000 Holes in Spokane, Eichardt’s Pub and Pedro’s in Sandpoint, and the Long Ear in Coeur d’Alene, or via Ticketfly, www.ticketfly.com or (877) 4FLYTIX

When you’re Willie Nelson’s kid, there are expectations. Chief among them might be that you sing country music, just like dear old dad.

Lukas Nelson, then, is not one for meeting expectations. When Nelson and his band, the Promise of the Real, land at Sandpoint’s Panida Theater next week, fans will hear a guy who sounds a little like his dad play music that is rocking, bluesy and folky.

He’s a familiar face around here. He played the Festival at Sandpoint in 2011, and has performed a couple of shows in Spokane.

“I love the whole Pacific Northwest,” Nelson said by phone from a recent tour stop in Eugene. “It’s a great place for us touring. I like the vibe, the people.”

Nelson, who grew up in Hawaii, formed the Promise of the Real in 2008, shortly after he dropped out of Loyola Marymount University. The band released an EP, “Brando’s Paradise Sessions,” in 2009, and a self-titled debut LP in 2010. “Wasted,” the band’s second album, came out this past April. A live album, “Live Endings,” was released just last month.

“I think we’re a live band, mostly,” he said. “I think (songs) sound better live, and there’s more energy live than they do on the record, for sure.”

Like many musicians, Nelson resists categorization. He’s not rock. He’s not country. On the song “Golden Rule” from “Wasted,” Nelson and his band play with African rhythms. “The Joint,” which isn’t about jail – he is Willie Nelson’s son after all – plays like a country rocker.

“You have to hear it and judge for yourself,” he said.

At the Sandpoint show, fans will get to hear a lot of “Wasted.” But they’ll also get to hear some new stuff. Really new stuff.

“I’m doing an acoustic thing to start off and that’s cool because I’m writing almost every day, so I get a chance to try out new material every show,” Nelson said. “I feel when you do a song right after you’ve written it, it’s got the most spirit a lot of times.”

The show features a version of “Toppers,” from the debut album, sung by bass player Corey McCormick, with an extended jam that goes into a riff from Pink Floyd’s “Money.” A cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” goes into an instrumental version of “Amazing Grace.”

Though it all, Nelson is heeding some recent advice he got from Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir.

“Bob Weir said, ‘Just have fun,’ ” he said. “We do that, and keep having fun.”


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