Last Word With Activist and Musician Lukas Nelson

Jim Eckenrode

The son of a certain Red Headed Stranger and Neil Young’s go-to backing guitarist, this activist-outlaw didn’t fall far from the Farm Aid family tree. On September 17, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real will play the nonprofit’s annual benefit concert. Meanwhile, he’s got plenty to say about Monsanto and marijuana.

Family farms matter—for reasons you might not think. Buy food from a nearby producer, and you’re supporting localized economies, which are harder to corrupt with corporate and political interests.

If corporations control our food, they control our lives. It’s important to prevent an agricultural monopoly. After working with Neil on his album The Monsanto Years, it scares me to think of a profit-driven chemical giant owning such a large percentage of our global food supply.

Music is the most magical way to effect change. The more I focus on my bliss, the more I can encourage other people to follow their own. At least a few will become inspired to make a difference.

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My music’s more rock ‘n’ roll than my dad’s. But I’m a product of my environment. I’ve written a lot of songs that sound like him. My band, Promise of the Real, plays cowboy-hippie-surf rock, and ultimately, being a hippie in 2016 means the same thing it did back in the day. We’ve just learned the value of a shower.

Marijuana should be fully legalized. I’ve never done cocaine or heroin, never got into pills. I don’t consider marijuana a drug, really. It’s medicine. I’m one of the master testers for Willie’s Reserve cannabis line.

For more on Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, visit To learn about Farm Aid and the organization’s 2016 concert in Bristow, Virginia, go to

Last Word With Activist and Musician Lukas Nelson