Certain genres of music cycle in and out of style like traditional medicine. We can compare this to the “old wives tales” cures for ailments that are re-discovered as better than the conventional and new pharmaceutical drugs. Roots music has been turning the ears of more and more people, potentially due to it fixing symptoms brought on by a cold, sterile and hollow entertainment industry, who force-feed mediocrity and garbage to the masses that lacks substance, message and intention.
Thankfully, there are plenty of great acts out there across every genre which buck the status quo. Bassnectar and The Polish Ambassador in the electronic world, Phish in the jam world, Pearl Jam in the rock world…and in the roots world you have acts like Rising Appalachia, Michael Franti and Nahko and Medicine for the People.
Nahko, an Oregon-native born a mix of Apache, Puerto Rican, and Filipino cultures and adopted into an American family, suffered an identity crisis from an early age. When he took up the piano at age six, the unifying power of music entered his life and brought him harmony. Armed with his newfound talent, he set out to bridge the cultural gaps dividing his own psyche. He began producing a public, musical journal of his journey toward personal, spiritual, and communal healing, and thus Medicine for the People was born.
Medicine indeed….you can’t leave a Nahko show without feeling slightly healed. The soul and feeling exploding from the voice and sounds from Nahko’s stage is filled with messages of love, revolt, hope, struggle and community. The band, consisting of Nahko Bear, Chase Makai, Dustin Thomas, Justin Chittams & Hope Medford, weaves it’s roots influences which include Hawaiian, blues, reggae and folk but these guys rock like a rock and roll or punk show. You may have caught their explosive performance at Wanderlust last July. The energy in that tent spread goosebumps across everyone’s bodies. I didn’t see a face without an exhilarated smile plastered across it.
It’s an exhilaration brought on by a uplifting vocals, driving drum beats and intense energy from a band who seems a perfect proprietary blend of Bob Marley’s spiritual and political leanings, Michael Franti’s community, Pearl Jam’s independence and rock intensity and Cecilio and Kapono’s Hawaiian influence. If you take this pill, not dancing is near impossible at a Nahko tribe party. This is spreading too, as seen by the almost 3 million plays on their video for “Aloha Ke Akua.”
This band is going to outgrow the Crystal Bay Club fast, so you really want to make sure you see this act in such an intimate setting.