Thursday, September 19, 2013

Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real at John Varvatos

Lukas Nelson first picked up the guitar at age 11 to honor a promise he made to his father, outlaw country giant Willie Nelson. Lukas taught himself the craft by playing along to Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix recordings. Lukas Nelson moved from Hawaii to Los Angeles in 2007 to attend college but quit soon after meeting drummer Anthony LoGerfo at a Neil Young concert in 2008 and jamming together in Seal Beach, California. Lukas’ band, the Promise of the Real (also known as POTR) presently consists of Nelson on vocals and guitar, LoGerfo on drums, Corey McCormick on bass, and Tato Melgar on percussion. The band has recorded two studio albums; the most recent, Wasted, was released in April 2012.

Tonight at the John Varvatos clothing store (former home of CBGB’s), Lukas showed himself to be a rocking blues singer and guitar player. Highly influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and other blues-based guitarists, it sounded as if Nelson’s record collection started in 1968 and ended in 1971. His set included covers of songs by the Rolling Stones and Neil Young, and some of his guitar licks were lifted from the Allman Brothers Band, Pink Floyd and other classic rockers. Nelson’s guitar style was not focused on speed or agility, but on feel, often hitting the same note or series of notes repeatedly to hammer the effect. Nelson’s pleasant singing had a warbling southern rock timbre, and he showed adequate songwriting chops, but he stood out more as a musician than as a singer-songwriter. Nelson was the band’s only lead instrumentalist and vocalist, so he ably carried the weight of leading and shining, and he did this well with a finely-rehearsed backup band. Nelson and the band are getting his music known by hitting the concert trail, often appearing on stage with his dad, but the 24-year-old blond is also handsome enough in a scruffy kind of way to moonlight as a Varvatos model; we will be seeing him in fashion ads soon.

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