Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Micah Nelson, the 31-year-old son of Willie: ‘I’m proud to be the Particle Kid’

SPICEWOOD, Texas – The Luck Reunion, the annual concert hosted by Willie Nelson on his Spicewood, Texas, ranch each March, had a particularly special vibe on St. Patrick’s Day. Perhaps that was because it was the first Luck Reunion in three years. Maybe it was due to the tribute paid to Nelson’s beloved sister, Bobbie Nelson, who died March 10 at age 91.

Or it could have been due to the lineup, which featured terrific performances by Japanese Breakfast, Lily Meola and the enduring Nelson, who is going strong at 88. “It was a very special Luck Reunion,” said singer-songwriter Micah Nelson, who performs as Particle Kid. “Maybe it was due to the fact that it was a real reunion this year. We had another eclectic lineup. I had a blast performing.”

Nelson will undoubtedly have a good time on the road opening for the Flaming Lips, who will perform Saturday at Knitting Factory. “It’s going to be fun,” Nelson said. “That’s for sure.” Nelson is touring behind his latest album, “Time Capsule.” an avant-folk album. The vocalist-guitarist is delightfully quirky and unpredictable, which explains why the Flaming Lips tabbed him as tour support.

“My superpower is curiosity,” Nelson said. “I love the unknown, and I love to experiment. I love the process of making music. I’m all about making accidental discoveries.” Nelson, 31, who is Willie Nelson’s youngest child, was inspired by the genre-bending Beck as an elementary school student. “My best friend in the fourth grade turned me on to Beck, and that changed everything for me,” Nelson said.

“I loved his absurdist lyrics and how he could go from hip-hop to country. It changed my perception of what you can do with music. What I could create can be a collage of things. It can be hilarious. It can be serious.” Nelson is looking forward to showcasing his tunes in front of Flaming Lips aficionados. “I love performing on bills with the Flaming Lips’s fans,” Nelson said.

“The Flaming Lips fans are so open, and they love music, and they like weird crap. Another cool thing is that they buy my merch!”

And how did Nelson score the cool nickname Particle Kid? “When I was 14, it just came out of nowhere,” Nelson said. “I was out of the house for a while, and I was playing Mario Kart, and my dad came into the room after he stepped out of his poker lounge.

“He came in, and he was so high. He looked at me and paused and said, ‘Welcome home, Particle Kid.’ It was this incredibly wild stoner moment. The name stuck for some reason. He meant ‘welcome home, prodigal son.’ The combination of his Texas accent and how stoned he was made it unforgettable. I’m proud to be the Particle Kid.” Nelson laughed when he was asked about how his father raised him. “He’s a great dad,” Nelson said.

“He was just never into the whole parenting thing. He’s not a parent. My mother was basically a married, single parent. She was the only parent I really knew. But my father has had a huge impact on me. I learned empathy, kindness and generosity from him. I love the way he treats people. I wouldn’t be a musician without him. I started playing harmonica in my dad’s band when I was 3 years old. And I get to play at the Luck Reunion every year. Life’s been good.”