Lukas Nelson, Promise of the Real play free show Saturday in Steamboat
March 18, 2011
Steamboat Springs — When Lukas Nelson was about 10 years old, he turned to his father and asked him what he wanted for his birthday.
Willie Nelson told his son he just wanted him to learn to play the guitar.
For Lukas, who took his first steps on his father's Honeysuckle Rose tour bus, it's been a musical journey ever since, whether it's playing with Willie's band as a teenager or forming his own group, Promise of the Real, two years ago and hitting the road.
On Thursday morning, the 22-year-old was unpacking from a trip to Hawaii and repacking for a recording session and a road trip to Colorado. The zip-zip of his suitcase was audible in the background as he talked about the only life he's every known: life on the road.
"It's just what I'm used to," Lukas Nelson said in his California drawl as he packed his one bag of clothes, a toothbrush and his guitars. "I love it because I've never liked being in the same place. It's hard for me to stay in one place long enough to really call it home."
Content as a wanderer, he travels around the country playing his own straightforward American rock, hoping the crowds that come out to listen can forget about the worries of their days and get lost on the gritty blues riffs and Nelson's relentless vocal energy.
At 3 p.m. Saturday, Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real play a free show in Gondola Square as a part of the Bud Light Rocks the Boat series.
He brings with him drummer Anthony LoGerfo, a surfing buddy from California; percussionist Tato Melgar, a childhood acquaintance from Hawaii; and a recent addition, Corey McCormick on bass.
"I have to travel so much, have to be on the road so much, they're like my brothers," Nelson said about his band and crew. "I love them. You've got to surround yourself with your family and people that you love, and then you're happy in life."
Large pieces of Nelson's life are like that of any other 22-year-old with a free will and a restless spirit.
He quit college because classical music just wasn't what he wanted to do, a decision that might not have been ideal in his parents' eyes.
When he chipped a tooth playing the guitar with his teeth, he told the dentist there was no way he was stopping.
Thursday, he found a chocolate cake in the passenger seat of his car and had no idea how it had gotten there.
He broke his only pair of glasses moshing at a wedding last week.
He's learned that music can set you free from a broken heart.
He surfs, snowboards and plays music with his friends — only Neil Young happens to be one of his friends.
"He's like family," Nelson said about Young. "He's one of the reasons we started our band. Me and Anthony, we'd sit on the beach, and all we'd listen to was Neil."
The young musician said he loves Pearl Jam and Stevie Ray Vaughan and hopes that down the road he's still able to play music for a living.
"I live life on my own terms," he said. "I quit school and took a leap of faith, and it worked out for me. I'm not sitting behind a desk or doing anything I don't want to do."
And there's not much more he could ask for.
"I think I do have everything," he said. "I'm pretty content. If I complained, I would feel bad. There would be something wrong with me."
Of course, he has his moments, like any 22-year-old.
"I'm actually out of gas right now, so I'm freaking out," he said, adding he was stuck in traffic on a Los Angeles freeway. "But I think I'm gonna be all right. I think everything's going to be OK."
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