Interviews

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real Gear Up for New Uplifting Album

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real headline The Belly Up Aspen on February 22 and 23 and WinterWonderGrass on February 25.
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real headline The Belly Up Aspen on February 22 and 23 and WinterWonderGrass on February 25. Alysse Gafkjen
About a month before Lukas Nelson was set to headline WinterWonderGrass in Steamboat Springs in the dead of winter on an outdoor stage, he was in Maui getting some much-needed rest and rejuvenation after a fifty-date tour last fall. While he was surfing, playing golf and hiking on the tropical island, he was also writing songs for his next album with his band, Promise of the Real.

Nelson, son of country legend Willie Nelson, says he’s written about seven songs for the new album, the followup to A Few Stars Apart, which was released last June. He’s hoping to get back in the studio in the near future.

A Few Stars Apart was very reflective and intimate,” Nelson says. “But [the new album], I think lyrically it compares. I think there's some great, beautiful songs in there, but it's going to be more fun and uplifting and upbeat — you know, great live stuff with the guitar getting funky, having fun with it. It's going to be a lot happier of a record, just an uplifting thing in general.”

Nelson touched on themes of hope and togetherness on A Few Stars Apart, which was partly written during the pandemic. But with the new album, he's ready to party.

“I’m ready to have some fun,” he confirms. “I'm ready to get out there. We had a great time with A Few Stars Apart...and now I'm ready to move on and just start living the new normal — whatever that is — and living it to its fullest, and just being full of joy and dancing and being happy.”

Prior to headlining WinterWonderGrass on Friday, February 25, Nelson and Promise of the Real will play at Belly Up Aspen on Tuesday, February 22, and Wednesday, February 23. Nelson says these shows will possibly include some of the new songs.
“What we do live is we really just try and create the most dynamic and emotional set that we can,” Nelson says. “So we pick and choose songs from all over the career and just try and build a good groove and a good pace, so that people can come away from the show having had what I hope was an inspiring experience.”

Nelson says he’s always loved Colorado and has some friends in the state, and the last time he came through, he wrote a song about the Yampa River, which he says he might include in the sets.

The band’s tour last fall in support A Few Stars Apart came with some anxiety because of the pandemic, and he’d sometimes think about his grandfather during the tour.

“My grandfather was a paratrooper in World War II, and he was at the Battle of the Bulge,” he says. “And he jumped out of these airplanes, and every time he jumped out of airplanes, there's bullets flying past you and flak guns bursting in the air all around you...and sometimes you make it, sometimes you don't.

“It wasn't that intense, but it was almost like you woke up each day and said, ‘All right, well, which one of us has COVID? Are we going to have to cancel the whole thing?' We were kind of just dodging everything, and somehow we just stuck to each other, created a good bubble and got through 53 shows...so we got lucky.”

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real: 9 p.m. Tuesday, February 22, and Wednesday, February 23, Belly Up Aspen, 450 South Galena Street, Aspen, $85-$275; 8:25 p.m. Friday, February 25, WinterWonderGrass, Steamboat Springs; ticket prices vary.
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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon

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