By Amanda Eggert EBS Staff Writer

BIG SKY – Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real will kick off the Big Sky Professional Bull Riders event with a Thursday night Music in the Mountains performance.

Brian Hurlbut, executive director for the Arts Council of Big Sky said he expects a strong turnout at the July 28 concert given Nelson’s ties to the area and the band’s swelling momentum.

POTR has recently toured and recorded with Neil Young, garnered the attention of Rolling Stone magazine, and used their platform to support several nonprofits and shine light on social ills.

POTR—billed as cowboy hippy surf rock—headlined Big Sky PBR in 2012 and played a “celebration of life” concert last fall in Jackson in memory of Luke Lynch and Stephen Adamson, two Teton Valley locals who died in a May 2015 avalanche on Mount Moran. The concert helped raise $60,000 for Teton Valley Search and Rescue and the Jenny Lake Ranger District.

“I think it’s going to be one of the biggest shows of the summer,” said Hurlbut, who heads up Music in the Mountains booking. “Word of mouth is out on what a great live show [POTR} puts on.”

Hurlbut said POTR’s music broadly falls under the umbrella of “guitar rock”—but there’s a twist. “They have an interesting lineup in terms of instruments,” he said. “They’ve got a percussionist, which you don’t see a lot [and he] gives them a little more versatility.

“Lukas himself is an amazing guitar player who can kind of do it all,” Hurlbut added.

Nelson, who is also the band’s lead vocalist, was joined by his brother Micah on their latest recording, “Something Real.” The band is rounded out by Anthony LoGerfo on drums, Corey McCormick on bass and Tato Melgar on percussion.

“I grew up with a lot of interesting people, so I couldn’t help but be inspired,” says Lukas, who along with Micah is the son of outlaw country great Willie Nelson. A string of big-name musicians floated through his young life.

Lukas counts Kris Kristofferson among his mentors. Mark Rothbaum, his father’s manager, served as a godfather, quasi-guardian and encyclopedia at various turns, and Nelson says Johnny Cash and Waylon [Jennings] “were always there.”

Some of the outlaw spirit of his father’s generation is present in the younger Nelson’s leanings as well. POTR is active on a number of social issues and has played countless benefit concerts over the years. Lukas has been particularly active in social justice and environmental issues.

And he’s looking forward to the Big Sky show. “I’ve got a lot of good friends down there,” Lukas said. “I’m excited.”

“I think it’s going to be a great addition to the [PBR weekend] and hopefully it’s something we can continue from year to year,” Hurlbut said.

Music in the Mountains performances take place at Town Center Park on Thursday nights through the summer. The Black Lilies will play first show of the season on June 23. All shows are free and open to the public.

Big Sky PBR tickets go on sale June 1at The Outlaws will play after the bull riding July 29 and Jason Boland and the Stragglers will take the stage on July 30.