The first time Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats were nominated for an award at the Americana Honors & Awards ceremony, in 2016, it came as a surprise to the group, who didn't necessarily see themselves as a part of the Americana community. Two years later, however, not only were Rateliff and company nominated once more in the category of Duo / Group of the Year, but returning to Nashville's Ryman Auditorium for the ceremony felt like a homecoming.

"We feel like we're a part of this community that's pretty open and has a broad spectrum of styles and a lot of different characters," Rateliff explained to The Boot before the September 2018 ceremony. "We're all becoming friends with them, and it's nice to see each other."

Among their new group of friends is one of country music's giants, Willie Nelson, and his son, country and Americana artist Lukas Nelson. The group got to know the Nelson family through their participation in Farm Aid, where they bonded with the legendary artist over their mutual passion for the cause.

"It's something that's really important to all of us in the band," Rateliff goes on to say. "Joseph [Pope III, the Night Sweats' bassist], and I grew up in rural Missouri, in the heartland of what should be a massive agricultural place for people to have good, clean food, but it's kind of a food desert. We really wanna bring attention to all that stuff."

For Rateliff and the Night Sweats, partnering with Nelson not only helped them contribute to the cause, but also gained them new friendships. "We've just become more and more a part of the Farm Aid family. We keep getting invited to places," Rateliff says.

In fact, Rateliff met Lukas Nelson without making the connection that he was Willie Nelson's son. "I randomly became really good buddies with Lukas in Australia, on our first tour there. We ran into each other and started singing songs and I was like, 'Man, that guy looks familiar,'" he recalls with a laugh.

"That aside, he's a good, genuine person, so it didn't matter who he was," Rateliff adds. "But we've been lucky to be a part of the outlaw family, I guess, and gotten to hopefully try to make a difference the way that Willie has done."

Willie Nelson + More Fight for Family Farms at Farm Aid 2018

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