Lost Trailers ‘Holler Back’ at Iowa Games

The Lost Trailers performs at the Iowa Games opening ceremonies. The Iowa Games opening ceremonies were Friday, July 13, in parking lots east of Jack Trice Stadium.

Frances Myers

“I believe in the underdog.”

These five words are so short and so simple. Yet they are packed with a lot of meaning, a meaning that is different for everyone. For Stokes Nielson of the country music act The Lost Trailers, they are not only the lyrics for The Lost Trailers’ single “Underdog.” They are an anthem for his life.

The concept for The Lost Trailers became reality back in 2000 when Nielson did a record, “Story of the New Age Cowboy.” Willie Nelson found that record and decided he loved it.

“At the time, the Lost Trailers was just me,” Nielson said in an interview with the Daily. “That was the name I put for the album. Willie Nelson found that album and loved it and wanted the Lost Trailers to come tour with him.”

Up until that time, The Lost Trailers had just been a name Nielson had been using for studio recordings. Needing to come up with a performing act, Nielson put together The Lost Trailers. Over the years, many of the members of The Lost Trailers have come and gone but Nielson has been there since the beginning.

Making a name for The Lost Trailers has not been an easy feat and there were times Nielson wasn’t sure how much longer they would last.

“In 2010, I had lost faith in what I was doing and what my purpose was as a human being and I fell into just survival mode,” Nielson said. “There had been some major changes in the Lost Trailers, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to continue the brand. At one point I actually quit and gave up, went back down to Georgia and asked for my old job back.”

Nielson credited his former boss with bringing him to his senses.

“If my old boss hadn’t kinda brought me to my senses by going, ‘You know what? You have to fight for your place in country music. Nobody’s going to just give it to you, but you’re doing a good job, and life is not easy, and every once in a while you get pushed down.’ If he had just said, ‘Yeah you can have your old job back,’ I wouldn’t be here today. I would have missed this whole adventure that has proven to be just so amazing.”

The Lost Trailers gathered up what they had and decided to make another go of it. In 2011, they came out with a single, “Underdog,” a term Nielson relates to well.

The Lost Trailers performed the single for the crowd at Jack Trice Stadium the night of Friday, July 13, as part of the opening ceremonies for the Iowa Games. They also performed other hits such as “Holler Back,” “How ‘Bout You Don’t,” and performed covers such as Keith Urban’s “Love Somebody Like You,” Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried” and Jason Aldean’s “She’s Country.”

Nielson was impressed with the concept of the Iowa Games.

“I think it’s awesome,” Nielson said. “I mean you guys have basically your own Summer Olympics, which I think is great. Whoever put this idea together I think is a genius, and I think every state should have that because, it’s like, what a great way for a community to come together and celebrate their people. So yeah, I’m really psyched to actually see the winners. And the losers. And the competitors. And just party with them.”

Iowa has been a frequent stop for The Lost Trailers.

“Iowa is really a great place for us because we’ve always gotten great radio support from country radio out here and the country fans out here are just fantastic. They’re super loyal you know? Gosh, we’ve must have played all over the state of Iowa maybe 20, 25 times.”

Throughout the journey, many band members have come and gone. The members of The Lost Trailers are now down to Nielson and Jason Wyatt. Even as the numbers have changed, the vision has remained the same.

“The common thread is that it’s been my vision of what country music can be, which is wide open but is always nods to the great traditions of country music,” Nielson said. “I love to push boundaries not only with the music but also with the business side.”

Nielson has been the go-to businessman for The Lost Trailers. Recently Nielson launched Stokes Tunes, a “brand marketing and management company specializing in entertainment industries.” Nielson wanted it to be artist run and basically the label for The Lost Trailers.

“Willie Nelson has always been kind of my person that I’ve looked to as far as musically but also business-wise,” Nielson said. “From the rap side, Jay-Z is somebody I look up to not only as a lyricist but as a businessman as well. In fact when I started Stokes Tunes, I based it off of Rock Nation, which is Jay-Z’s management label. [Stokes Tunes is] very unique because the majority of the country charts is controlled by major labels that are foreign companies. So to have an American run company where people buy Lost Trailers stuff and the money stays in this country is really important to me.”

The Lost Trailers have toured with many of country music’s biggest acts including Tim McGraw in 2010 and Lady Antebellum.

“Being around Tim McGraw was also great for me as not only an artist but as a businessman as well,” Nielson said. “Because I saw how an artist can be more than just a singer and an entertainer. I would see him come in from shooting Country Strong, doing the show, leaving the show, going to work on like, you know, his clothing lines, his fragrance lines, all that stuff, and I just saw a consummate businessman who is very focused. And I left that tour knowing I was going to start actualizing my potential better after watching Tim McGraw.”

Nielson does what he can to keep giving fans songs they want to hear and can relate to.

“When I was forming the Lost Trailers I looked to people like Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails who was a guy behind a band. I always thought that was a really cool idea. I like the music to be free and not constricted to any type of form — to just be creative and free.”

He said it’s all about the songs.

“If you’re putting out great songs then people wanna hear it and they wanna hear The Lost Trailers. The second we stop putting out songs that people wanna hear we won’t matter anymore. I like to keep it fresh, and it’s really all about the songs.”

Even as a performer, Nielson said he does not see himself as anything other than a normal person. In fact, he said the people are the best part of his career choice.

“For me it’s the people,” Nielson said. “I love the people I get to interact with in this business. In my toughest times, it’s what kept me in this business. The people we get to play for are amazing. And they are the backbone of this country. They are working their tails off every week most of them underappreciated and underpaid, and when they come to this show, that’s their time to just let it out.”

On Monday, July 16, The Lost Trailers will be starting on their American Beauty Promotional Tour, releasing the single “American Beauty” the same day.

“It’s about love but the music of it I think is very fresh and it’s very modern, but then there’s also nods to the traditions of country music by having a fiddle, mandolin and the acoustic instruments really run the track,” Nielson said.

Nielson said he is very excited to continue The Lost Trailers’ adventure and continuing with performing and interacting with the fans.

“We love the show, we love hanging with people after the show. We’ll sign autographs for as long as the line lasts. The best part of the journey is the people. Every show I meet somebody, and it just blows my mind how many great people there are in this country.”