Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real to Star at the Varsity Theater on 9/25

Photo credit: Joey Martinez

You don’t want to miss Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real at the Varsity Theater on Wednesday, September 25th. This is your chance to see Willie Nelson’s son and co-writer/producer of the soundtrack for A Star is Born along with his band that is Neil Young’s regular backing band and appeared in the movie as Jackson Maine’s backing band. Doors open at 7pm for the 8pm, 18+ show in Dinkytown, on the University of Minnesota campus. Los Coast is the opening band. Get your tickets HERE.


Lukas Nelson knows all about legacies, indeed he’s been hard at work carving his own for most of his young but extremely eventful life. Balancing his work as the front man of Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real — an emergent and vital force in American music — with his regular gig as Neil Young’s band leader and lead guitarist — and of course, the never-ending road alongside his father in Willie Nelson & Family — in song after song, on stage after stage, Lukas has sharpened the edges of his singular sound, one that nods to his influences while also pushing forward into uncharted territory.

That original sound, straddling rock and roll, country, soul, folk and R&B, reaches a new high-water mark with Turn Off The News (Build A Garden), Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real’s second full-length release for Fantasy Records. Grounded by the band’s kinetic energy and shared musical ambition, the new album, written and recorded during the busiest stretch of their career, shines a light on Lukas’ timeless songwriting and the group’s undeniable chemistry. For ten years running, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real — bassist Corey McCormick, drummer Anthony LoGerfo, percussionist Tato Melgar, and multi-instrumentalist Logan Metz — played an average of 250 shows all over the world while also serving as Neil Young’s go-to support ensemble. In the past year alone, the quickly rising quintet turned in star-making performances at major festivals including Stagecoach, Newport Folk Festival, New Orleans Jazz Fest and dozens of shows as part of Willie’s traveling Outlaw Music Festival. The band’s memorable television appearances included Colbert, CONAN and scintillating debuts on both PBS’s venerable Austin City Limits and Nashville’s legendary Grand Ole Opry.

Turn Off The News (Build A Garden) likewise arrives on the heels of Lukas’ high-profile collaboration with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper on 2018’s blockbuster film and soundtrack, A Star is Born. Lukas not only co-wrote and co-produced much of the film’s multi-platinum, Oscar-winning soundtrack, he also worked closely with Cooper in crafting Jackson Maine’s musical persona. In a classic case of art imitating life, Nelson, along with his real-life cohorts in Promise of the Real appear in the movie too, performing as Cooper’s (Jackson Maine’s) backing band just as they’ve performed with Young for years. Lukas, Gaga and Cooper recently won the BAFTA Award for Film Music, just one of the many accolades bestowed on the acclaimed project since its release.

That collaborative spirit runs throughout Turn Off The News (Build A Garden), whose songs include guest turns from Young, Margo Price, Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson, Micah Nelson, Kesha, Shooter Jennings, Lucius, Randy Houser, Madison Ryann Ward, and Hunter Elizabeth. Yet, whether it’s the sweeping, Roy Orbison-influenced production of “Where Does Love Go,” the Traveling Wilburys’ rootsy resonance on the irresistible, “Bad Case,” the cosmic country-trance sound the band crafted for “Stars Made of You,” the 60’s infused sweet R&B of “Save A Little Heartache,” or Willie’s unmistakable guitar licks that grace the gorgeous, “Mystery,” ultimately it’s Lukas’ indelible songwriting that makes this album so special.

“Our trajectory has been similar to that of The Band,” says Lukas, who pulls quadruple-duty as Promise of the Real’s vocalist, songwriter, lead guitarist, and co-producer. “They supported so many incredible people throughout their career, but they were also focused on their own music. We’re the same way. We want to see good music and great artists succeed, because a rising tide raises all ships. We’re cheering for our friends, just as they’re cheering for us.”

Recorded at Shangri-La in Malibu and the Village Studios in West L.A., Turn Off The News (Build A Garden) features co-production from Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real and John Alagia, who helped produce the group’s self-titled debut for Fantasy Records in 2017. The group worked fast, recording 30 original songs during brief breaks between tours. They tracked straight to analog tape, too, keeping overdubs to a minimum and, instead, focusing on live performances. The result is an album that packs the same punch as the band’s live performances, while also delivering a message of awareness and togetherness.

“We wanted these songs to be fun and upbeat,” says Nelson, “but we also wanted to have something to say. Rock & roll began as a countercultural movement, so in the true spirit of rock & roll, we’re trying to encourage a lifestyle where people can be active in their local communities, rather than glued to a device. We listen to so many artists — the Byrds, Tom Petty, Al Green, Neil Young, Little Feat, J.J. Cale — and this album carries forth an ideal that they all represented, which is the idea of turning off the news and doing something constructive, like building a garden. I wouldn’t call it a protest record. I’d call it a statement about how you can live your life with your heart leading the way.”

Lukas began listening to his heart in his childhood hometown of Maui. He was a creative kid, writing his first song at 11 years old and sharpening his guitar chops with eight to 10 hours of daily practice. He headed to the mainland in 2007 to attend college in Los Angeles but found it difficult to shake his musical dreams. After meeting LoGerfo at a Neil Young concert in 2008, he dropped out of school and formed Promise of the Real, taking the band’s name from a line in Young’s 1973 song “Walk On.” By the time Young caught the band during a fiery set at Farm Aid in 2014, they were a proficient, well-oiled machine, playing with a skill and swagger well beyond their years. He asked them to join him in the recording studio, and the result — 2015’s The Monsanto Years — became the start of an ongoing collaboration that has included two additional albums, multiple tours, and countless hours of inspired performances onstage.

Since leaving school in 2008, Lukas Nelson has held fast to the things that he loves most, be it making music, traveling the world with his friends, or collaborating with the legends that inspired him — for Lukas, it’s about cultivating an insatiable curiosity and learning. As a singer/songwriter, he’s learned to roll his unique experiences into a catalog of original music that is spiritual, dynamic and endlessly absorbing. Turn Off The News (Build A Garden) marks the latest chapter in that ongoing story. This is Lukas Nelson at his best: involved, inspired, and eager to share his point of view, backed by a band of fellow road warriors who haven’t skipped any steps on their rock and roll journey and have the chops to prove it.

The album’s title says it all. Turn off the news. Tune in to something more meaningful and lasting. Get involved and, as Lukas suggests, let your heart lead the way.

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real Upcoming Tour Dates:

Sat, SEP 14 Outlaw Music Festival, Virginia Beach, VA
Sun, SEP 15 Outlaw Music Festival, Raleigh, NC
Wed, SEP 18 Sprint Pavilion, Charlottesville, VA
Thu, SEP 19 Murat Theatre, Indianapolis, IN
Fri, SEP 20 Bourbon and Beyond, Louisville, KY
Sat, SEP 21 Farm Aid 2019, East Troy, WI
Sun, SEP 22 Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival, Franklin, TN
Tue, SEP 24 Turner Hall Ballroom, Milwaukee, WI
Wed, SEP 25 Varsity Theater, Minneapolis, MN
Thu, SEP 26 Thalia Hall Chicago, Chicago, IL
Fri, SEP 27 Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival, Columbia, MO
Sat, SEP 28 Farm To Fork Festival, Sacramento, CA
Sun, SEP 29 Ohana Festival, Dana Point, CA
Sat, OCT 12 Frost Amphitheater, Stanford, CA
Fri, OCT 18 Coral Sky Amphitheatre, West Palm Beach, FL
Sat, OCT 19 Coral Sky Amphitheatre, West Palm Beach, FL
Sun, OCT 20 MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, Tampa, FL
Fri, OCT 25 The Walmart AMP, Rogers, AR
Sat, OCT 26 Dos Equis Pavilion, Dallas, TX
Sun, OCT 27 The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, The Woodlands, TX


On their eagerly awaited debut album Samsara, the visionary Austin, TX combo Los Coast delivers a fresh blast of punchy psychedelic-pop-soul that effortlessly incorporates a wide range of genres. The band’s seamlessly soulful songcraft incorporates the band’s distinctive grooves along with the inventive compositions and commanding vocals of principal members Trey Privott (lead vocals, guitar) and John Courtney (guitar, keyboards, vocals).

Even before Samsara had been recorded, Los Coast had already earned a reputation as one of Austin’s most exciting and inventive young bands. With its lineup rounded out by Megan Hartman on bass, Damien Llanes on drums and Natalie Wright on keys, plus a varied assortment of guest players, Los Coast was already renowned for its rousing, expansive live sets.

That same mix of energy and expertise is reflected on Samsara, which features such memorable, no-nonsense tunes as “Simplify,” “Monsters,” “Graves” and the frantic, tongue-twisting “(Everything But) The Kitchen Sink.” The album delivers infectious hooks, ironic lyrical twists and explosive funk grooves in equal measure, providing an irresistible frame for Privott’s soulful vocals and the band’s explosive grooves.

“We love pop music, but we also love to experiment,” says Courtney. “We try to avoid letting the listener know what’s coming, and we like playing with people’s expectations and catching the listener off guard. It becomes stale if it’s too familiar, so we like to come up with music that’s familiar and surprising at the same time.”

“We’re lucky to be able to explore these different sounds and different attitudes, and do a little dabbling,” adds Privott. “We started with a blank canvas, and we built a diverse color palette around the album that we wanted to create. It felt like everything was fair game, from psychedelic funk to the blues to acoustic singer-songwriter pop.”

“I think this album captures a moment in time for the band, and a moment of time in Austin too, with certain things that were in the air at the time, and certain tides turning,” Courtney offers.
Georgia-born Privott’s first love was jazz—thanks to the influence of his uncle, noted guitarist and former Late Night with David Letterman band member Hiram Bullock—but his musical consciousness soon came to embrace gospel and soul, thanks to his family’s Southern Baptist faith, as well as punk rock, folk and hip-hop. He began picking up various instruments in his early teens, and began experimenting with recording soon after. Although Texas native Courtney focuses on lead guitar with Los Coast, he’s a versatile multi-instrumentalist whose sensibility was influenced by his extensive studies at the prestigious Berkley College of Music.

“I see us as a rock and roll band with a lot of soul influences, like Sam Cooke and Otis Redding,” Privott states. “Otis was from Georgia, Little Richard, too, and that music is in my blood. What I think makes Los Coast stand out is that we’re psychedelic. As a guitar player, John Courtney is into guys like Jerry Garcia and he’s also jazz-trained. His playing defines the band just as much as my voice does.”

Trey and John hooked up in Austin in 2015, and quickly won an audience in their adopted hometown, thanks to a long-running weekly residency at the Austin club C-Boy’s. “We had wanted to use the residency as a chance to get comfortable onstage, and to really learn to play as a group,” Trey explains. “But more and more people started showing up, which we hadn’t expected at all.”

A high-profile gig at 2016’s Austin City Limits festival helped to spread the band’s reputation beyond its hometown, as did some out-of-town touring that helped to build demand for Los Coast’s long-simmering debut album, elevating the group to official buzz-band status. The band’s memorable first indie single, “Summer Samaritan,” gave way to the indelible gospel-funk of its followup “Simplify,” which now serves as a key track on Samsara.

“We reworked the album multiple times because we wanted to get it right,” Courtney admits. “We were being a little perfectionist, but we finally got to the point where we felt good about it. It was a long process, but it was time well spent.”

“We built the sessions from the ground up,” adds Privott. “It was kind of a non-traditional way to make an album, to work on it for so long. We went moment by moment, instrument by instrument, and we used everything we had to work with. That seemed to work for us. Now we’re looking forward to sharing it with the world.”