Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real are touring in support of “Turn Off the News (Build a Garden),” a new album that reminds listeners of the value of experiencing life in person.
The well-received album, Nelson's second for Fantasy Records, brings in a diverse lineup of guests — Margo Price, Randy Houser, Sheryl Crow, Shooter Jennings, Willie Nelson, Micah Nelson, Kesha, Lucius and Neil Young among them — and flavors its rock sound with country, soul, funk, and rhythm and blues.
On Sept. 18, listeners will get a chance to hear these songs live when Nelson and the band — Anthony LoGerfo on drums, Corey McCormick on bass, Tato Melgar on percussion and Logan Metz on keyboards, lap steel, guitar and harmonica — perform at Charlottesville's Sprint Pavilion on a bill with Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats.
Reached on the road, surrounded by Promise of the Real bandmates, a cheerful Lukas Nelson enjoyed bantering with his colleagues.
“We’re proud of the team we’ve put together,” Nelson said. “We’re proud of the team as a whole. We’re a family, and we just have to treat ourselves that way.”
Respect for listeners and colleagues, and a love for music and the act of sharing it with audiences, keeps the work exciting and rewarding.
“We jell together,” he said. “That’s the rock ’n’ roll of it. We’re all bandleaders.”
Part of the beauty of live performances is in getting away from tiny screens and getting closer to big ideas, such as sharing an uplifting experience with other listeners who love music as much as you do.
“When you see the show live, you get it,” Nelson said. “Once you get to the live-show situation, it opens up into something important.”
Nelson also has good news for fans who missed a chance last month to hear Willie Nelson and Alison Krauss perform at John Paul Jones Arena. Willie Nelson is feeling better after needing to take some shows off his schedule, including Charlottesville’s, as a result of illness.
“He’s doing fine,” Lukas Nelson said of his dad. “He’s 86.” Nelson described his Grammy Award-winning road-warrior father as being “in relatively good health.”
Nelson said fans will enjoy Wednesday’s show at the Pavilion. He calls Rateliff “a monster performer” and praised the energy of his live show.
“This is a great bill,” Nelson said. “We love each other so much, and his band is like family.”
Nelson said sharing the music with audiences in a live setting is a joy.
“We love this gift of connecting with people on this level,” he said. “You don’t have to touch somebody, but you’re in the vicinity, and you channel those vibes.”
Part of the message of “Turn Off the News (Build a Garden)” is to remind people of the enrichment and satisfaction that can be found in community. It is important “to get caught up in something, whether it’s sports or music,” Nelson said. “Find something you love, and it’ll make your life. Just love what you do.”
Some artists prefer not to carve out time to write on the road, but Nelson has been prolific.
“I wrote a song yesterday, and I have in total 44 completed songs yet to record,” he said. “I have a lot of material.”
Time spent traveling also opens up opportunities for collaborating as a band.
“As a band, we get better at working on this together. We all write, and we’re all in this together,” Nelson said.
He loves to keep moving. “I can’t think about being stagnant,” he said. And he finds satisfaction in “knowing that we’re doing something that’s making people happy.
“We’re going to be learning until the day we die.”