Derik, Riana and Dalten Nelson have been singing together since they were children in Olympia, Wash. Six years ago, they took their show on the road.
“We started touring in 2013 along the West Coast to raise money for music programs in high schools and through that experience, realized we had something very special as a sibling trio,” Riana said.
Now Derik Nelson & Family tours nationwide, but they still stop at locations on the West Coast, including Lodi, where they’ll perform on March 14.
The performance will be unlike anything the city has ever seen before — because the trio invented it.
Derik is a multi-instrumentalist and audio engineer as well as a singer-songwriter.
“We wanted a way to bring his expertise in all of these areas of production on the road without a live band — so what better way than to ‘clone’ Derik?” Riana said.
But no one had built the technology for the kind of project they envisioned: a 20-foot video “wall” where the clones of Derik would play multiple instruments.
Luckily, Dalten is a tech whiz. During the siblings’ first tour, he built a computer that could run a video, lights and audio all perfectly synched to their live show.
“We’ve refined every step of the way, and the seamless integration of video is truly so cool,” Riana said. “We get comments at every show praising his video immersion, that it is so unique, and we so far have not encountered anyone else doing what we’ve created.”
The Nelsons grew up listening to everything from jazz to classic rock to pop. They count Sting, Michael Jackson, the Eagles, Joni Mitchell, John Mayer and Crosby, Stills & Nash among their influences.
“We grew up on our parents’ generation of music and while they aren’t musicians themselves, they’re deep music appreciators,” Riana said.
Since going pro, the siblings have racked up singing spots and appearances on television. Recently, they toured Moldova and Albania as U.S. Cultural Ambassadors.
“It was a huge honor. We were able to see places most Americans will never travel to all across both countries including a separatist regime territory of Moldova called Transnistria, and we experienced an in-depth peek into these two cultures and countries while performing, teaching, leading music workshops, and cultural exchange programming. It was a life highlight for all three of us,” Riana said.
While the siblings love to perform and travel together, they also have their own pursuits outside of Derik Nelson & Family. Derik spends a lot of time writing new music, and appeared as the lead guitarist on the hit show “Glee.” Riana — who handles all of the band’s social media and marketing — also enjoys painting and calligraphy, yoga and working with children, especially young women. Dalten focuses on film design and editing.
While the three get along most of the time, they do bicker sometimes, as all siblings do. But they’ve found that it’s important to keep the peace on the road. They do their best not to argue when they’re sleep deprived, Riana said.
“Over the last 12 months, we’ve spent around 30,000 miles in a car together,” she said. “We’ve learned what all three of us need in order to be in a good mental, physical, emotional space and really take care of each other.”
In the end, she said, they’re each other’s best friends — they always have one another’s backs, on stage and off, and they don’t take each other for granted.
Derik Nelson & Family have a beautiful show planned for Lodi, Riana said. They want to leave the audience amazed and feeling a sense of connection.
“We hope through our sibling bond, our tight vocal harmonies, and our immersive video experience, you’ll leave feeling like your heart is full and connected,” she said.