Last Thursday night Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real brought their style of rock n roll to the hallowed grounds of the old CBGB's venue in NYC, now a John Varvatos boutique store. On certain nights the store will briefly transform into a music venue showcasing upcoming artists as well as legendary ones (Gene Simmons performed a very hush hush show here during New York Fashion Week). However these events are not open to the public and you cannot purchase tickets. The only way in is by RSVP, thus allowing the space to not be overcrowded and to allow a more intimate atmosphere.
In case you were not aware, Lukas Nelson is the son of country music icon Willie Nelson. Make no mistake though, Lukas is forging his own path in the music industry with his style, attitude, and band. Promise of the Real consists of Anthony Logerfo (drums), Corey McCormick (bass), and Tato Melgar (percussion). Together they have put out two full length albums and one EP. They have a rather impressive resume as they have opened for Willie Nelson, performed on David Letterman, and have jammed with Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir.
I had gotten to the venue early enough to secure a spot up close to the stage. It turned out to be a smart move because once the band started playing most of the people hanging towards the back had moved up. Lukas began the set solo with a lengthy intro before the rest of the band jumped in and got the show off to a kick ass rocking start with a song that easily went over the seven minute mark. It was a commanding start and let us in the crowd know that he meant business! The band kept the vibe loud and high energy with the next song having the swagger of a 70's era Rolling Stones song. "Real commitment seems absurd" was a line from the song that got stuck in my head. After slowing it down a notch with the next song Mr. McCormick showed off his talent with a thumping bass solo that John Entwistle would have approved of.
By this time the crowd was warmed up and the atmosphere had that electric feeling of being at a concert where anything could happen at any given moment. The next song began with a slow danceable beat that had the crowd grooving along then out of nowhere Lukas started cranking out some notes that, when I recognized what it was, completely wow'ed me. He seamlessly went into David Gilmour's solo part in the Pink Floyd song "Money." He added his unique flavor to the solo and the crowd was definitely impressed. From the solo part he allowed Mr. McCormick to add a very comfortable bass solo part before Mr. Logerfo kicked in with his drums and the band came together for an ending that melted.
After restarting the next song due to a minor feedback problem the band started with a jam titled "Set Me Down On A Cloud." A lyric in the song that stood out for me was, "set me down on a cloud with my soul turned inside out." From here we were led into another surprise as Tato Melgar started with a steady conga beat that eventually led into The Rolling Stones fan favorite song "Sympathy For The Devil." The crowd sang along enthusiastically and our mojo had to rub off on Lukas because he started to play his guitar with his TEETH! The crowd was loving the energy emancipating from the stage and everyone was shaking and grooving. After this impromptu display of showmanship Lukas once again slowed the vibe down and took center stage as he channeled his patriotic side with an emotional rendering of "Amazing Grace." Check it out:
"SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL" - LUKAS NELSON AND PROMISE OF THE REAL At JOHN VARVATOS BOWERY 9.19.2013
The crowd wasn't letting the band leave the stage without an encore on this night. They came back on and Lukas took the mic to say this next one was a tribute to Neil Young. With electrified guitar in hand, Lukas did a spectacular version of the classic Mr. Young song "Down By The River." When he was done we all thanked him and the band with a deafening applause. Afterwards everyone was buzzing about the performance and I'm confident in saying that the band left a strong impression with everyone who had seen them for the first time.
For more Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real news, music, and tour info, check out his Zumic artist page.