Might as well jump. Lukas Nelson soars across the stage during a previous visit to Ketchum.
Express photo byWilly Cook
Lukas Nelson has a buzz going.
And though he admits to sharing the penchant for pot with his famous father Willie, it’s his talent as a standout musician with his Promise of the Real band that’s generating smoke.
Nelson is making his way to fame on his guitar and a familiar warble, but distinguishing himself with a reputation as a showman with his own brand of rock and country.
He’s so popular locally, he’s booked for two nights at Whiskey Jacques’ in Ketchum, tonight, March 19, and Thursday, March 20. Pre-sale tickets cost $15. Only a few tickets will be available at the door.
Genetics gifts or no, Nelson hasn’t always wanted music as his profession. In fact, he had aspirations to be an Olympic swimmer, a pilot or a scientist—a guitar-playing any of those.
“Those were all just different paths I could have chosen,” Nelson said. “I still study science, I still swim and I would love to learn to fly a plane. At 25, I hope that I will be able to do all of those things and more in my lifetime. My father once told me, ‘The biggest fear most people have is of their own impending greatness.’”
He started touring with his dad from birth, took the stage with him at 3, and started seriously playing guitar at around 11 years old. He picked up some reggae and street cred playing with a band called Harmonic Tribe in Maui, where he played a decent reggae tune and started writing songs.
All along, he spent time and was mentored by the best in music history, artists such as BB King, Neil Young and Bob Dylan, and he toured with John Fogerty.
Nelson started Promise of the Real with Anthony LoGerfo, Tato Melgar and Merlyn Kelly in 2008 and toured relentlessly, attending major festivals such as Stagecoach, his father’s Farm Aid and the annual Bridge School Benefit. Records include the latest “Wasted.”
David Letterman has had him on his late-night show a few times, as has Conan O’Brien. He also opened a few tours for his dad. At the SXSW festival last week in Austin, Texas, he shared the stage with his father and actor Johnny Depp to a crazy, happy crowd.
A reporter on a music website wrote on Facebook of Willie Nelson’s show, “Lukas Nelson was there, as was Johnny Depp.”
Nelson is a nonchalant about it as he can be.
“Johnny is an incredible human being, and my family are proud to know him.”
After touring regularly for the past several years though, he is appreciative of the ground he’s gaining.
“More and more people are recognizing the band and it’s great,” he said. “It just makes the shows that much more memorable.”
Of his ability to romance a la Depp with his songs and his smolder—in “Set Me Down on a Cloud,” he offers to make someone feel so good it won’t feel real—Nelson is coy.
“I try to linger and hang with the people that come to my shows,” he admits. “I like to get to know the people who love my music.”
If one is interested in drawing the linger lure to his attention, consider this: “It doesn’t take much else besides a nice, easy-going vibe to make me want to hang out and create memories.”
The third album he hopes to release very soon is entitled “Love yourself.” It is “just a few mixing issues and away we go,” he said.
Of Idaho becoming a second home, Nelson said, “I love the people. The beautiful countryside. I love the energy of the shows when we play there. I can’t wait to come back.”
Where: Whiskey Jacques’, Ketchum.
When: Tonight, March 19, and Thursday, March 20.
Tickets: $15 in advance.