Anyone who heard Lukas Nelson playing the streets of Venice Beach a couple of years ago might have wondered if he was related to Willie Nelson, given the vocal similarities.
On the other hand, who would suspect that Willie Nelson’s son would be busking for bills?
But after Lukas dropped out of Loyola Marymount University, where he was enrolled as a music student, mom and dad (yes, that’d be Willie Nelson) played tough love and cut him off. So Lukas Nelson found himself living out of his car, trying to make it — like so many others — as a musician in Southern California.
Despite dropping out of school, Nelson had already had a musical education, thanks to his father and his dad’s friends— people like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson, (Willie’s former Highwaymen band mates) and Bob Dylan.
Now Lukas, born to his father’s fourth and current wife, Annie, leads Promise of the Real, a blues-rock band which released its self-titled debut album in December. And the 22-year-old has made a name for himself as a shredding guitarist.
Nelson, who appears on the same bill as his pops in the Country Throwdown at the Pozo Saloon next week, talked about songwriting (he wrote his first, “You Were It,” for his dad before his teens), touring with his dad’s friends and his dad’s famous beat-up guitar, Trigger.
I don’t usually play my songs on the bus, unless it’s for somebody else. I’ll play new songs I’ve written, maybe—or, you know, new things I’d want to show people. Or I’ll play a lot of Neil or Stones. Just sing-a-longs.
But I just seriously doubt that he was sitting around playing “On the Road Again” on the bus.