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Lukas Nelson + POTR Keep Building On a Strong Foundation at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real performed to a packed house at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee on November 08, 2023. It was a big night in Music City as the CMA Awards were also taking place just across the street in front of a live televsion audience at the Bridgestone Arena. So, the band did their very best to deliver an award-winning performance of their own at the historic venue known worldwide as "The Mother Church of Country Music".

Lukas Nelson takes the stage in Nashville.

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real - sometimes referred to as POTR - are a country rock group based out of California. The outfit is fronted by Lukas Nelson - son of the legendary Willie Nelson. Lukas spent years on the road with his Dad who early on had his own complicated relationship with our town. Sure, he penned "Crazy" here but a fire at his recording studio found him ultimately returning to his Austin home to find wider fame as an "outlaw" artist.

Back to Lukas - he and POTR played with Neil Young from 2015 to 2019 recording two studio albums with the Canadian rocker. At the feet of this mentor Nelson surely learned a lot about extended rock jams and he has incorporated much of that feel into his own music that also contains elements of blues, Americana and soul for a mixture that is hard to classify much beyond - "it's damn good".

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real are right at home in the Ryman.

Now, POTR have become the headliners acquiring legions of fans. Currently, they are touring in support of Sticks and Stones their latest album with songs that work well in a live setting. The record has received high marks with comments such as "very well-rooted", "virtuoso-style musicianship" and more. In the same way that the Ryman has its own famous sticks and stones consisting of a red brick facade and original wooden pews - Nelson continues to construct a sturdy career that is sure to be long-lasting.

In Nashville, POTR kicked things off with a triple play of up-tempo tracks consisting of "Sticks and Stones", an effervescent "Every Time I Drink" flowing into "Fool Me Once" all punctuated with Lukas' sizzling guitar licks. Logan Metz (keyboards, lap steel, guitar, harmonica, vocals) added all sorts of accents while the riveting rhythm section of Anthony LoGerfo (drums, percussion), Corey McCormick (bass guitar, vocals) and Tato Melgar (percussion) kept the good grooves on the move.

Nikki Lane, Meg McRee and Lana Del Rey join the band for a song in Music City.

Two of our favorite numbers of the night included the state-themed "(Forget About) Georgia" and "Carolina" that were high points of a concert that frequently showcased the individual players in the band. "Just Outside Austin" was another fine piece of storytelling reflecting a sense of place.

Nelson's ample multi-instrumental skills found him shining on piano and lead guitar in addition to his frontman role especially on the lively love song "(Aint Gonna) Die Alone". Lukas also excelled on "Smile" a softer moment in the set. "Wrong House" was both catchy and clever as was "Ladder of Love" that kept the pace progressing into their generous encore.

The critically-acclaimed "Sticks and Stones" is Nelson's 8th studio album.

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real delivered an award-winning night of music playing their unique blend of country rock spiked with funk and soul. Their set was a tasteful mix of upbeat tunes countered by more tender tones that at times reflected Lukas' past with Willie and Neil thus giving fans at the Ryman the best of a lot of musical worlds.

Opening for POTR was Meg McRee a Vanderbilt graduate who ending up pursuing music. Meg was chattier than Lukas sharing some of the insights behind her songs. Quite a few were inspired by personal experiences that enhanced their truthfulness. "Golden" was our go to tune as McRee said it was about a struggling artist who on this particular night was performing at the Ryman. Meg like Lukas was all about the artistry and connecting with the crowd which is why live music still holds so much promise.

Meg McRee kept the sold-out audience entertained in the opening slot.

Related Links: For more information on LUKAS NELSON and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Lukas Nelson | Meg | Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real Play a Bone Rattling Record Release Party for "Sticks and Stones" at the Nashville Palace | Ryman Auditorium


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