Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real on Touring, Albums, and Going Hollywood

Lukas Nelson
Lukas Nelson Myriam Santos
Ready for a dose of LSD? Your high will be delivered sonically, as Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real — who are filling in for Lucinda Williams — join Steve Earle and Dwight Yoakam for The LSD Tour.

When Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real were asked to jump on the bill for this heady night of country and roots-oriented rock, saying yes, for Nelson, was a no-brainer. “I have met them and a big fan of both; I know it’s going to be fun.”

It’s not the first time legends have requested the band’s presence. In 2015, Neil Young tapped them to back him up in the studio and on the road. That was 2015, around seven years after their formation in California. Nelson kicked his college career to the curb in order to make the band a full-time pursuit.

Before joining forces with Young, the band stayed busy, making a name for themselves through a packed touring schedule and unleashing some live and studio recordings. Performing with, and alongside, huge names has been a constant with the band. Early on, they opened for Willie Nelson — Lukas’ dad — and did a separate stint with blues superstar B.B. King.

In addition to sharing the stage with two illustrious acts, Nelson is excited to show the Phoenix crowd live versions of their self-titled album. Released last summer, it’s a 12-song country-rock offering that’s fat with blues and soul in both music and vocals.

Though his awe-inspiring guitar playing and smooth vocals drive the train, Promise of the Real is a team operation, where soulful playing and skill get wrapped and sealed in a seamless package.

Nelson has songs in the works for an upcoming record but the 2017 release still has him a little woozy and will be a focus for this night of LSD. That next offering be a studio release with a live-show feel. “When we worked on it,” Nelson says, “we all recorded live, in the same room, with very little overdubbing.”

click to enlarge Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real - JOEY MARTINEZ
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real
Joey Martinez
Nelson’s passionate about touring. “I love recording,” he tells us, “but I definitely have to be out there performing. It’s part of my makeup. The live experience is kinda like going to church – it’s spiritual and there’s a connection between the audience and performers that could never be replicated in the studio no matter how hard you try.”

That said, he extols a benefit of the studio experience, too. “Some recordings can take you to beautiful places in ways the live show can’t.”

Whether you’re a longtime fan or a newbie to the band, you can also catch them in the recent remake of the movie A Star Is Born. This one has Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in the lead roles, and will come out on October 5.

Cooper saw the band perform at the Desert Trip Music Festival in California, known jokingly as “Oldchella” due to its lineup of now-ancient classic rock bands like The Rolling Stones. Cooper was hooked and asked Nelson to be a music consultant on the project. Once they got going, the collaboration expanded to Nelson helping write songs for the film, and the band performing in the movie as Cooper’s backing band.

“Bradley wrote a lot, too, and we collaborated — he’s a great musician himself,” Nelson says, “and Gaga is a great actress — they both did a fantastic job.”

The group is ready to rock Arizona. “We put 100 percent into every note, and the audience tends to respond to that. I think that people will have a really good time.”

The LSD Tour, featuring Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Steve Earle, and Dwight Yoakam. 7 p.m., Saturday, August 4, at Comerica Theatre, 400 West Washington Street; 602-379-2800; Tickets start at $39.50 via Ticketmaster.
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Amy Young is an arts and culture writer who also spends time curating arts-related exhibits and events, and playing drums in local bands French Girls and Sturdy Ladies.
Contact: Amy Young