Lord Nelson

An interview with Kai Crowe-Getty from Lord Nelson
by Tommy Rage
July 2019

Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountain rock band Lord Nelson

Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountain rock band Lord Nelson

Upon hearing the line-up for this year’s Atwood Fest 2019, I jumped at the opportunity to interview one of this year’s brilliant artists – Lord Nelson. Not the deceased British Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson who, upon his death at sea, was preserved in a brandy cask with myrrh and camphor. No, not that Lord Nelson, but instead, a Virginia based five-piece band who puts on a spectacular live show. With their 2018 release Through the Night, Lord Nelson has toured across the U.S., winning fans over one-by-one, show-by-show. Guitarist/lead singer Kai Crowe-Getty, along with multi-instrumentalists Hank Jones on trombone, keyboards & vocals, lead guitarists Calloway Jones, Andrew Hollifield on bass, and Johnny Stubblefield on drums, have created quite the following.

Beginning in 2012, Lord Nelson cut their teeth and honed their live show playing bars in the south. Combining a classic rock sound with a southern brassy-blues back-drop, lead singer Kai Crowe-Getty has painted a picture reflective of the band’s roots. “When people ask us what we do, the easiest thing to say is southern rock,” notes Kai-Crowe-Getty, “but that conjures certain things to most people. Even though we are from the south, and we draw from that, we put our own take on things and put it through the grinder and see what comes out [laughter]. We all grew up playing parties and all sorts of random hangouts in the country. Playing around a lot sort of crystallized and brought us together as a group. We hit the road and our line-up has changed a little through the years, but I think we have a really great crew right now.”

Spending their first three years refining their sound, Crowe-Getty, talks about the band’s 2015 debut album. “Big County was named after Nelson County where we all grew up. We did that [album] with some really good friends at a homemade studio where we gave it our all; and we were really happy with it. When it came to making our second record, we learned a lot from performing and touring and song-writing and production, and just getting comfortable in the studio. When we went to record Through the Night, we had a lot of new approaches creatively that really manifested in that record.”

2018’s Through the Night is a creative mix of 70’s southern rock mixed with modern blues and funk. The first single, “Tail Lights”, along with songs “Fingertips” and “Safety Meeting” combine the upbeat melodic tempos with the bands great harmonies to ensure your foot taps and your soul begs for more. Speaking about how the band’s second album came about, Crowe-Getty reflects with a smile in his voice. “When we recorded Through the Night, we really enjoyed it and it was our first real studio record. We were on the road, writing and doing all that fun stuff, so when we got to the studio we knew exactly where we wanted to go with it. We had perfected them live, so we were happy how quickly things came together.”

With long time band member Hank Jones stepping away, Lord Nelson regrouped and secured their live performance with bassist Niko Cvetanovic. “I think the studio is a great environment, to fine tune things”, explains Crowe-Getty, “but it’s the unpredictability of the live shows and going out on stage - that is a little different. We enjoy interacting with the crowd and really opening up to the experience of a live show. We’ve had everything from people heckling us and throwing things at us, to people bringing us [gifts], you never know what you are going to get. We love the unpredictability nature of the live show.”

All ten songs on Through the Night are a collective balance of southern rock fused with the witty story-telling of singer/songwriter Crowe-Getty. Songs like “Second Chances”, “Call Me”, and “Black Hills” rendered tales of love and loss. Speaking about song writing, Crowe-Getty shares what’s next for Lord Nelson. “We have a bunch of songs that we wrote while touring, and it definitely reflects that. It’s a creative song writing process and being on tour has brought a lot of cool stuff out; stuff we weren’t anticipating. It’s going to be fun to put that out, and we will be playing some of those new songs. Hopefully a new record will be out before the end of the year.” 

Sharing his love of performing live at festivals and shows across the U.S., Crowe-Getty shares what his first concert experience was. “Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was my first rock show. He has been an inspiration to me from day one. There’s a lot of his influences that permeate what I do, and people have noticed that, but I don’t ever try to write songs like Petty. I think a lot of that just seeps through the cracks.”
Looking forward to playing Atwood Fest on Sunday, July 28th, on the Heritage Stage, Crowe-Getty expounds on Lord Nelson’s love of playing live shows. “We usually don’t make a set list; we just go with the flow of the evening. We may pull out a cover or two, anything from Herbie Hancock or John Prine to Tom Petty or Howling Wolf. We will see how it feels. We play a lot of different venues. Some where you have to just pack up and move on down the road, but we really enjoy getting a chance to hang-out and meet people from the area. We can’t wait to play Atwood Fest. It sounds like my kind of party!”

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