Community Voice



Prior to this, I had never heard of Lukas Nelson or Promise of the Real. Expectedly, in preparation for the interview, all of my research came from the internet. Before we embark on this story, it is important to clarify a detail, otherwise inaccurately reported on the internet. Promise of the Real is NOT a cross-over band. They are not claiming to belong to one genre and then altering their style to accommodate another genre. Promise of the Real are here to write and perform their music their way, on their terms. No gimmicks, no hanky-panky, no cheap car salesmen.

(actually, there might be just a little hanky-panky…)

When I started the interview by telling him the truth, that I knew nothing about his work prior to a few days earlier, but that I really wanted their new EP, Brando Paradise Sessions.  He said he was glad I liked the music and that the way I came about discovering it wasn’t the important part…that it really didn’t matter. He was happy that I didn’t know him before, because now I would and he doesn’t mind if every person after me makes the connection to his music in the same way. He does, however, prefer people’s first experience to be at the live show rather than view the clips on the internet.

LN:     I don’t even like recordings of my music because I’m a perfectionist. There are some really bad videos, that you probably seen on youtube and it doesn’t give a clear picture of who we are as a live band. Our live show is nothing like the clips up there from months ago, or last year. Back in the day artists had more control over what is put out there and there’s a lot of stuff out there that I’d rather not have … but you can’t change that.

We briefly discussed the idea of change. That change to some degree is necessary to evolve within the process of life itself. He cited the simple example of the honeybee. The honeybee pollenates the flower and a give/take is created at that moment to allow for a change to come. We shared the fundamental idea that without the willingness to accept change, we cannot seek improvement within ourselves or expect it to happen around us and he spoke briefly about his experiences on stage.

MF:     Did you ever look out into a crowd during a gig and say to yourself..Wow, this is the biggest audience we’ve ever played for…or feel that at that time you had reached a pinnacle? You just finished working with BBKing. That had to have had quite a few fond memories.

LN:     I have been getting up on stage since I was about three years old, so I never really thought about it. It was part of my upbringing to be in front of a lot of people…at FarmAid and the Family Picnic. A month or so ago, we were with BBKing (we’ve done about 50 shows with BB so far) and then on tour doing our own thing for the last week. He (King) is a very fatherly figure and he’s humble and always helped me out if I had any questions…kind of a mentor, almost. One night he even let me play with him. That was really great, in Boston at the House of Blues.  But I’ll tell you what…(on our own) this last show at Red Rocks was probably the best show that we’ve played. There was a really intense, crazy, vibe and we got a standing ovation. We really used that opportunity and gave it 110% and I felt everybody was talking about it afterwards. We’re just getting better with every show.

MF:     One of the most seasoned harmonica musicians in the game, Mick Martin, once said to me, ‘Blues –real Blues- has forward moving directionality.’ The sound gives you goosebumps and runs your emotions. All you know is that you can’t sit down; you have to get up and move. There is no other choice. Considering your young age, I was really thrown sideways by the way you can accomplish that feeling of beckoning through the Blues that you play. It opens a door inside the listener and says…You, yes it’s YOU we want. Please come in and sit down.

LN:     I just play music and if people like it, great and if they don’t…well… (he was quiet for a few seconds) Like souls attract like souls. People… attract people who are like them and whatever frequency you are operating at, you need similar people and I don’t believe for a second that it’s not meant to be. Whoever I’m hanging out with when I hang out…I met Anthony at a Neil Young Concert, I met our Bass player at this other thing…it’s all kind of a syncronicity kind of deal.

MF:     Well the band is tight. You have that sobering knowledge only musicians four times your age carry with them. Yet, you’re a comfortable old friend to me, and I’m 43. There are a few of your songs that I’m drawn to because of the melody but moreso, it’s the lyrics. I replayed “Learning to Love” about 4 times and then I discovered “Want you to Want me Around”.  I still can’t stop repeating the lyrics in my head.

I would leave you alone, it would be hard but I’d find a way.
Because I know that you know…where my love stays.
You stood in the window of my soul and I played for you.
I ain’t desperate, but I know what I’ve found.
I know what I’ve found.
I want to wake up in the morning and see your face there.
And when the world outside is stormy, we’ll be safe here.
But I know that you need space, to keep your mind still.
So, let me know just when to go….and you know I will.
I will…

…..I want you to want me around….

LN:     I write about three songs a day. Most of the time… I’m writing all the time. I’ll write about anything. I’ll …I don’t try to limit myself or anything. Sometimes I hear a little piece of something and sometimes I hear the whole song in my head complete with a string section orchestra and those are the ones that frustrate me so much because I don’t have the means to put that together, you know? So there are a lot of songs out there that I have that I can’t wait to (be able to) afford to do…to hire the musicians and have my orchestra together.

MF:     I even sense some carefree ocean breezes and maybe a slight hint of reggae here and there.

LN:     Yes, well there might be. I was in a reggae band when I first started. We started back in the day in Maui as a reggae band. My Own Wave … it was in college when I wrote that song and I don’t remember how or why ….I think it was about when I quit school and was feeling free about myself. You have these melodies..they are all in my head and you’re walking down the street thinking… what song would be playing right now… and it drives me crazy because I have to stop and write it down. All the parts play in my head like the soundtrack to my life or something. I’ve never been able to be disciplined to do anything for ‘every day’… to do anything routine…keep a journal, things like that so I have to stop and write it down.

MF:     Did you ever want to be anything else when you were younger…like a plumber or a fireman?

LN:     I picked up the guitar when I was 12, and at an early age, I just started it..and I couldn’t stop. When I was really young, before 12, I wanted to be a pilot, a fighter pilot in the Air Force. I love planes. When I grew up a little more, I started skateboarding and I wanted to be a pro skateboarder…but I started getting hurt. So, I picked up the guitar. I had a few more things I wanted to do but I just fell in love with the guitar and it kind of consumed me.

MF:     What is your direction now, for yourself and the band?

LN:     We don’t really have a game plan. But…I think it’s important to give back as much as you receive. It’s kind of how we’ve forgotten to live with the earth: the cycle of giving and receiving. Evaporation will create a cloud and it will rain and I feel it’s the way we should be living and how I try to live. We have a bio-diesel car, etc… but we’re just trying to make a living right now. We can’t afford to be too invested in anything other than what we’re doing moment to moment but for the most part we just want to last. We want to be around and it doesn’t matter if we’re in the spotlight or not…I just want to be able to play music the rest of my life and have that orchestra at least once …to do the incredible stuff at least once.

(Part 2 of this interview will be published with photographs after Thursday night’s performance in El Dorado Hills. Promise of the Real is opening for Roy Rogers & The Delta Rhythm Kings. For more information or to buy tickets: www.carrera-productions.com )

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