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Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real

Recently, after seeing Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real play here in Portland I picked up their newly released CD, “Live Endings”. I first heard this band last April when I ran across their Yahoo concert streaming live over the internet, and let me tell you, the bold promise they make in their name is not one they take lightly. Their music delivers real thought and real emotion. It’s played the way music should be played. Not the over-analyzed, over-commercialized, and over-marketed crap we hear all over corporate radio today that stifles the creative moment in a death grip. When you hear these guys play live you are listening to what they are feeling at that very moment–their heart and soul is what you’re hearing–and you become part of the music with them.

Nelson, on lead guitar and vocals, is the son of music legend Willie Nelson and a lifetime spent at the knees of some of greatest musical artists of the nineteenth century is obvious. This guy was taught the blues by B.B. King, for God’s sake! He’s an amalgam of the best rock, blues, folk, and, of course, country/western that has ever been played in history. Combine that with influences he’s picked up in music he’s gravitated to on his own–Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards, (Pink) Floyd, etc.–and you’ve got a guy that can take on any kind of music that falls under the label “Americana” and deftly incorporate those styles into his own sound.

The other members of POTR hold their own along with Nelson. Corey McCormick on bass provides a depth to the music, Tato Melgar brings a sense of the exotic on percussion with his Latin beats, and Anthony LoGerfo on drums holds them all together. And as for the sound of Nelson’s voice, it’s undeniably reminiscent of his father’s, although without the deep, mellowing that comes with the decades. It’s raw, just as it should be with this type of music.

I’m really into POTR and wanted to share my excitement in seeing real, honest-to-God musicians playing great rock ‘n roll again. I  hope, hope, HOPE this band takes off. It’s been an awful long time since we’ve had actual talent trump marketing packages, and I don’t know about you but I am really ready to feel music again. My excitement over the possibilities of this band grows every time I hear them.

So, without further adieu—Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real!!!

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real; “Hoochie, Coochie Man”

Muddy Waters’ “Hoochie Coochie Man”, electrified.

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, “Four Letter Word”

POTR’s original Southern rock song: “Four Letter Word”.

Willie and Lukas Nelson, “It’s Floodin’ Down in Texas”

Deep blues performed with Willie Nelson: “It’s Floodin’ Down in Texas”

Lukas’s country roots come through on “Can You Hear Me Love You”.

Here’s a link to a previous post where I wrote about Willie and Lukas’s cover of the Pearl Jam song, “Just Breathe” and a link to the song on YouTube.

Meet Mademoiselle Mabry

Push play and come back to read the article while you listen to the song:


Hear that? Sounds alot like the opening to Lenny Kravitz’s “Mama Said,” doesn’t it? ( The song is “F.U.N.K.” by one of music’s  greatest Divas.

Betty Mabry was twelve when she began writing songs on her grandmother’s North Carolina farm and four years later, in 1961, she moved from her parents home in Pittsburg to New York City where she became a successful model. At eighteen she opened her own club, Cellar, and mingled with top musicians, including Sly Stone, The Commodores and Jimi Hendrix. You can hear their influence in this song as she names more of the artists who influenced her music…Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner (you can hear her influence in Betty’s intense vocals), and the list goes on.

However, it’s more interesting, I think, to pay attention to the musicians she influenced, most notably the great Jazz trumpeter, Miles Davis.

Betty Mabry became Betty Davis in 1968 when she married Miles Davis. They divorced a year later, due in part to Miles’s assessment that she was ‘too young and wild’ for him, but her influence during that one year is credited as being a catalyst for his transformation from the ‘cool’ style of Jazz to a new sound called Jazz Fusion. Introductions by Betty to the innovative musicians of the mid and late 60s, like Hendrix, opened up new styistic ideas for Davis and kept him relevant in an age when music was moving away from the traditional genres. If you listen to his pre-Betty sound in “So What” ( and compare it to his post-Betty sound in “Bitches Brew” ( you can easily hear the change from the smokey lounge sound of the 40s and 50s to the more forceful, experimental, emotional sound of the 60s where he combined his explosive trumpting with electrical instruments.

Betty Davis’ influence didn’t stop with Miles Davis. After their divorce she went to Los Angeles to work on her own albums and with Santana, among many other great musicians. Eric Clapton pursued her for a time, wanting to co-produce one of her albums, and in 1975, two years after the release of her third album, Nasty Gal, Clapton released a song on his Slow Hand album called “The Core” with a riff that sounds very similar to the one in “F.U.N.K.”  (

The funk inspired fashions she wore can be seen in David Bowie’s futuristic, glam rock style and on the album covers of current hip hop divas like Lil’ Kim, Beyonce, and Rihana, and, in Miles’s opinion, her ‘in your face’ sexuality was picked up by Prince and Madonna in the 1980s.

As for Lenny…his father, a jazz promoter and associate of Miles Davis, introduced the future rock star to Betty Davis at a very young age and I can only imagine what effect this wild funk diva had on a boy who was just coming into his teens. Recently he performed a cover of Betty’s “Anti-Love Song” with a London band called Skunk Anansie on a French television show so it’s assured that Betty Davis’s influence is still groovin’ at the clubs.

Can ya’ dig it?

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