Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real: A Family Tradition Meets Detroit Rock City

The Majestic Theater in Detroit originally opened its doors in 1915 and has long since been a cornerstone in the Detroit and national music scene. Since the mid 80’s this historic venue has played host to new and established acts spanning all genres of music – George Clinton, Black Eyed Peas, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Flaming Lips, Wilco, Sheryl Crow, Patti Smith, Sublime, Drake, Jimmy Cliff, 311, Sonic Youth, Garbage, Leon Bridges and many more.  Recently, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame asked Iggy Pop and Don Was to celebrate their Detroit roots, as well as Detroit’s role in music history, at their old stomping grounds.

Adding to this list of memorable performances, is Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real.  The six man band includes a slide guitarist, bongo player, and pianist along with bassist and wicked lead guitarist.  This eclectic choice in instruments allow Promise of the Real to explore various styles of music and reach a similarly eclectic fan base.

Being Willie Nelson’s son, one expects Lukas to have the same twangy, outlaw country style his father has blessed us with all these years.  Opening songs ‘Four Letter Word’ and ‘Runnin’ Shine’ are accompanied by guitar skills reminiscent of Stevie Vie.  Just like that, Lukas Nelson clearly sets himself apart from his father.  It is obvious, this is not his father’s country.  However, no matter how hard one might try, you can’t fight genetics –  his voice is unmistakably Willie.

Lukas has spent a great deal of time performing with his father, including the new “Willie and The Boys” collaboration that also includes his brother and drummer, Micah Nelson.  Then in 2015, Nelson and Promise of the Real began backing Neil Young in studio and on tour.  These experiences added knowledge and ammunition to his songwriting repertoire.  Standout song, ‘Forget About Georgia’, is one of his personal favorites.  Lamenting the nightly pain he endured playing ‘Georgia On My Mind’ with his dad, all while trying to get over the heart break of a girl – named Georgia.  A unique experience only he could know, but we all have lived in some way.

Opening act Nikki Lane helped close out the show.  Her rockin’, sultry voice – a mix of Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Nicks, and Joan Jett – blended perfectly with Nelson’s, for an amazing rendition of the duet ‘Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around’.  Along with his cover of ‘American Girl’, Nelson did right by the iconic rocker and family friend, honoring Tom Petty in grand style.

In all, watching Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real is more like watching a multi genre music festival: Hard rock, country, reggae, and folk all in one.  Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real rocked the hallowed walls of The Majestic and are sure to roll their way into history.

by Marcie Camero

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