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Lukas Nelson Looks Forward to Mountain Jam 2017, Reveals What He Learned From Neil Young

Ilya S. Savenok, Getty Images
Ilya S. Savenok, Getty Images

Five years after making a strong first impression during their Mountain Jam debut, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real are back for more at this year’s festival.

The son of country legend Willie Nelson, Lukas has been leading his own band for almost a decade now. Together with his brother Micah, Nelson and his bandmates have spent much of the past two years backing Neil Young on 2015’s The Monsanto Years and the supporting tour, which was chronicled on the following year’s live album Earth.

Nelson has fond memories – and at least one talented new buddy – as a result of his first visit to Mountain Jam. “That was the first time I met Gary Clark Jr., who actually, incidentally is a really good friend now,” he explains to Diffuser. “We had a great time; we played right before Gary that time, and I ended up jamming with Warren [Haynes]. We did a tribute to the Band; it might have been right after Levon [Helm] passed away in 2012. I had a really nice time up there; I really enjoyed it.”

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Although Nelson first met Young as a teenager, he explains, “I didn’t know him very well until about five years ago. He started paying attention to the band. He and Dad were friends and acquaintances, but not really close. So, I didn’t really see him but once a year, at Farm Aid, and mostly I didn’t even say hi to him. But five or six years ago, we started playing a bunch of his songs.”

As it turns out, being invited to record and perform with Neil was the completion of a rather cosmic loop for Nelson. “I started the band basically based on my love for Neil,” he states. “The name of the band came from a Neil Young song [“Walk On”], and [drummer] Anthony [Logerfo] and I met at a Neil Young concert. So we played a few of his songs at Farm Aid, he came up and said he really liked it. We kept in touch, and eventually ended up playing together. So yeah, it was a dream come true, literally.”

“His attention to detail and focus is second to none,” Nelson says when asked about the most important lesson he learned during his time with Young. “It’s been an incredible master class of music and working on the road. There are things that are so subtle that you learn, that I couldn’t even tell you.”

The extended collaboration with Young meant Nelson and Promise of the Real needed to put their own career on hold for a bit. The group’s most recent album, Something Real, was recorded in 2014 but not released until 2016, and now Nelson is very excited to share the band’s completed but as-yet-unannounced follow up.

While politely declining to reveal any details about the new record, he says it won’t be long before an official announcement – and promises “it’s going to be really great. I can’t wait to share it with everybody.”

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