The C4AC Music Series presents the Austin Cares Concert featuring Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real with the Texas K.G.B. and Patrice Pike
ACL Live, February 9, 2019
Written by Greg Ackerman, Photographed by Danny Matson
Last Saturday’s Austin Cares benefit at ACL Live fittingly featured Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real. The rocking guitarist and singer is the son of Austin’s favorite performer, Willie whose statue features prominently at the base of the steps leading up to the award-winning venue. The concert, which included The Texas KBG and Pike / Sutton featuring longtime Austin songwriter, Patrice Pike as support acts benefits Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM), Superhero Kids and Step Forward Foundation each year. The first is a local music charity that helps provide affordable or no-cost healthcare to musicians who qualify.
Organizer Bill Murray seemed optimistic when asked how the event fared, “We typically do not share that information (funds raised) at the request of our charity partners. However, it is definite that we beat our projections.” With a nearly full house of fans and some excellent entertainment, it’s no surprise the event reached its goals for the evening.
After Pike / Sutton left the stage a live auction was conducted, then The Texas KBG appeared on stage. KBG stands for Kelly Green Band. One thing is certain, Kelly Green shreds guitar like you wouldn’t believe. The pixie-like singer and guitarist is quite animated during her performances too, cavorting about the platform while casually peeling off hair-raising riffs like she was taking a Sunday stroll along Town Lake.
Three of the four members pitched in on vocal duties. Her bassist, Violet Lee showed off some impressive vocal chops during the set. In fact, all four members displayed virtuosic ability. Hailing from North Georgia, the foursome appears to derive real joy from performing. Green expands on that idea, “When I step on stage, I enter my own personal church,” said Kelly. “I feel enlightened. Every ounce of energy in the world is soaked up into my body, and in that moment, I am connected to the universe.”
Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real got going a bit late as one would expect of a fundraiser of the type of mixed agenda format that was presented. Fans were nonplussed, patiently waiting for the son of Austin’s musical hero to appear. Nelson is having a moment right now. His band, POTR has backed none other than Neil Young on two successive, recent tours. He consulted on the film score and soundtrack to the remake of “A Star Is Born,” and his latest tours have played to mostly sold-out venues. The man is making name for himself, distancing his work from that of his more country music father.
After singing a ballad about Austin, Nelson turned to tender ballad, “Set Me on a Cloud,” letting off impressive guitar solos in between verses. As the tempo picked up during the set, folks even two-step danced in the back behind the cocktail tables on the floor, spinning each other around joyfully.
Nelson stopped to talk about the special connection between the audience and performer comparing the phenomena to a spaceship taking off. He may have been really stoned. There was a strong smell of marijuana coming from backstage prior to the performance. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It is, after all, Austin and the venue actually has a “Willie Porch” of the green room area for artists to smoke on.
The pace continued to pick up with “Ain’t Gonna Die Alone.” We noticed fans smiling broadly at the tune which has a distinct bluegrass undertone. A foot-stomper if you will. “Forever is a Four-Letter Word” soon followed displaying Nelson’s precocious range on guitar where he laid down subtle riffs alongside blazing solos that left you in awe of his ability. And he’s just getting started.