Meet the new generation of bands making country music cool again


When it comes to country music, Lukas Nelson and Promise Of The Real are a must-see. The band received buzz in Australia when they played last year’s Bluesfest, gaining a steadily-growing local fan base over the past two years.

Their frontman, Lukas Nelson, joins the ranks of other sons and daughters of country music greats such as Justin Townes Earle, Holly Williams and Rosanne Cash. He made his first claim to fame in 2012 when he collaborated with his father, the legendary Willie Nelson, on the album Heroes. Young Nelson recently said to the Delaware County Daily Times that his father’s greatest lesson was teaching him the art of “being yourself” and “staying true to your [artistic] values.”

His band was soon plucked from the ever-deep pool of alt-country and Americana talent by Neil Young, who became a mentor for the now 28-year-old. Nelson’s self-titled album was released in August this year, drawing influence from his father’s legacy, as well as Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings, and it features a guest appearance from Lady Gaga on the latest rendition of hit track, ‘Find Yourself’.

Lukas Nelson teams with Lady Gaga for a gorgeous, country-tinged slow jam

The notable softie said of his craft, “When you play music, when you’re living life, it’s all about finding a place where you’re not thinking and you’re living from your heart.” Growing up between Austin and the island of Maui, Hawaii, he describes himself as a surfing cowboy, which explains the band’s ‘cowboy hippy surf rock’ tagline. His attraction to country music as a teen provided a way to connect with his father, who was often on the road. The band is famous for its high-energy performances, as Nelson’s classic country tunes are also inspired by the likes of Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendix.

Nelson will be rubbing shoulders with alt-country folk band Hurray For The Riff Raff at Bluesfest next year – another band making serious strides in broadening the appeal of their chosen genres. Their queer Puerto Rican frontwoman, Anynda Segarra, was thrust into her career when she ran away from home at 17 and started busking to survive on the streets while studying the works of Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Memphis Minnie and Woody Guthrie.

In her latest LP, she formed the character, Navita (Latin for Navigator), who she says, “[has grown] up in a city that’s like New York, who’s a street kid, like me when I was little, that has a special place in the history of her people.” Segarra spent her late teens jumping from train-to-train, moving from the South Bronx all the way down to New Orleans.

Gorgeous Americana sounds meet the urban sprawl with Hurray For The Riff Raff

Released in May this year, The Navigator has arrived at a time in American history when it’s most needed. While Trump spruiks fear around the country and boasts about increasing security on the Mexico-US border, Segarra loudly protests in ‘Rican Beach’, “Now all the politicians, they just flap their mouths / they say we’ll build a wall to keep them out.”

She recently put on the second edition of Nosotros Festival at New York’s Lincoln Centre, an arts event for Latinx expression and protest. “I just had enough with the dehumanization of immigrant people. I felt like, ‘I can’t do this; I can’t hear this anymore,’” she said of organising the festival to Remezcla. “I spent so much of my life running from my Latinx identity.”

Now, she’s taught herself everything she can about her Puerto Rican history and her music combines elements of traditional American folk protest songs, while implanting roots to her heritage with Afro-Caribbean percussion and empowering storytelling that tackles displacement, diaspora and racism to attempt to push back against fear mongering. Segarra is no longer running.

You’ll have the chance to see both of these impressive country and folk talents at Byron Bay’s Bluesfest 2018, where they’ll be accompanied by the likes of Robert Plant And The Sensational Space Shifters, Chic with Nile Rodgers, Lionel Ritchie and more. You can also catch each of them them playing sideshows throughout March – check out the dates below.

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real Bluesfest 2018 sideshows

Supporting Gov’t Mule

Tickets on sale now

26 March 2018
Metro Theatre, Sydney

27 March 2018
The Corner Hotel, Melbourne

Hurray For The Riff Raff Bluesfest 2018 sideshows

Tickets on sale now

24 March 2018
The Corner Hotel, Melbourne

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