By Anita Stewart, Journalist and Chyrisse Tabone, Photographer–Rock At Night Tampa Correspondents
Venue: Jannus Live, St. Petersburg, Florida–June 26, 2016-Nahko and Medicine for the People with support by Satsang
Nahko Bear hails from Portland, Oregon originally and is of mixed descent; Apache, Puerto Rican and Filipino and the lyrics he writes to accompany his music honor his indigenous roots. The band, Medicine for the People is actually a musical collective that he and other members began and the group is now based out of Hilo, Hawaii. Because the band is a “collective,” sometimes the lineup of the band will change.
Up until 2015, Hope Medford was the only female in the band and was the hand drummer/percussionist. She is now taking a rest from touring to pursue her art and she is also a new mother. Dustin Thomas was playing bass for the band until last year and now writes, tours and performs his own music.
The band self proclaims their genre: “Hip-hop, folk, jazz, tribal, native-based, earth-based, spirit inspired.” I prefer to call it “socially conscious music.” Other bands doing this type of music and that Nahko and MFTP have recorded with include: Michael Franti and Spearhead, SOJA, Xavier Rudd and Trevor Hall just to name a few. Nahko and Medicine for the People are a regular band to see on the festival scene in North America and now in Europe as well.
Nahko is a true Aquarius; a believer in gathering people and in all things peaceful that are community driven. With a focus on the global village as one entity and diversity as beautiful, he envisions bridging the gaps with his music.
“My songs are my thoughts and dreams…I’m here to share my thoughts and feelings and ideas,” he says. “I’m not saying they are the solution—they might be pieces to a solution. But it’s nothing you don’t already know.”
To date, the band has three amazing studio albums that will have you singing along: “On the Verge” recorded in 2010, “Black as Night” from 2013 and the eagerly awaited release this month of “Hoka.” July 2016 has the band traveling to festivals and shows all over North America and then to Europe in August.
On June 26th, 2016 Nahko and Medicine for the People finally arrived in west central Florida to a huge fanfare and a sold out show at Jannus Live! This event was eagerly anticipated by this band’s many Florida fans here as the closest the band has gotten to us during their tours in Florida was Miami and Live Oak. This writer attended her first Nahko and Medicine for the People show at the Purple Hatter’s Ball in Live Oak’s Spirit of the Suwannee in beautiful north Florida in May of 2015.
Faithful fans waited for so long and they were so ready for the night’s show! A festive mood permeated throughout and the rain had passed so nothing could go wrong! MacDinton’s was the staging area for friends to meet, have a few drinks and/or get something quick to eat. There were also other wonderful eateries to satisfy everyone’s tastebuds around the same block and every place one looked was filled with shiny, happy people.
The line to get into the show wrapped around the block in downtown St Petersburg, (affectionately called “The Berg”) and in front of the street-side bar of MacDinton’s. Security was tight and everyone was checked before going in and their bags were searched thoroughly. Of course, all in response to the tragic events in Orlando just a few weeks ago.
Being in the line to get in was certainly the happening place to be with all the great vibes! It was a dressed up, dressed down, flashing bindis on foreheads, flowing skirts, tie dyed tank tops and flip flops type of crowd. Everyone was sharing, walking around with dogs on leashes, even one guy with two parrots; everyone smiling with vibes not unlike being outside of a Grateful Dead show. People were even ordering pizza and eating while they stood in line and some were hastily giving slices away to people they didn’t know. As people got through the checks and entered Jannus Live, many scrambled to stake their claims along the prime viewing areas at the barricades towards the front and closest to the stage.
The show opened with a reggae band from Montana, yes really! Satsang, who are amazingly wonderful and now have many new fans because of this tour! Satsang describes themselves as “…a Conscious Music Collective. A mix of Reggae, Folk, and Hip Hop with lyrics rooted in social, personal, and spiritual growth.” Their latest album is titled THE STORY OF YOU and the title song from the album has some very grabbing reggae hooks and a real melodic feel. Before their set, they prepared the stage and set the vibe by burning sage and then sang their beautiful, socially conscious music to evoke peace and a beautiful flowing mood. Tim Snider, the fantastic violin player from Nahko and Medicine for the People joined Satsang onstage to play a tune…and with a resounding YES, we will certainly be hearing more from them!
Then Nahko and Medicine for the People grabbed the stage and from the very first song had the crowd entranced with pure joy. Dancing, singing, arms in the air, waving stuffed bears, even one gal with a ukulele, young and old were singing along to every song. The children in the crowd were enthralled and knew all the lyrics! “Directions” and the indigenous ceremony of calling in the directions began the show and the band segued from one favorite song to another: “Risk It,” “Vultures of Culture,” “Warrior People” and many more.
The highlight of the evening was a heavenly violin solo by Tim Snider accompanied by “Pato,” the bass player who switched out his bass for an African stringed instrument called a “kora.” And the crowd went wild!
This writer’s favorites from the band’s complete catalogue included: “Wash it Away,” “Budding Trees,” “Warrior People,” “Black as Night” and “Make a Change.”
For specific tour information see their site at http://nahko.com/. Then run, don’t walk to your ticket outlets or you just might not get into this show when it arrives in your town! This is a performance you don’t want to miss!
The band’s current line up features:
Nahko Bear on guitar, keyboards and vocals
Chase Makai on lead guitar and vocals
Justin Chittams on drums and vocals
Patricio Zuñiga La Barca aka “Pato” on bass, kora and vocals
Max Ribner on horns and vocals
Tim Snider on violin and vocals.
Nahko & Medicine for the People
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Grew up in a rock and roll radio station that her father owned and has a musical family. Spent a few years singing back up. Now sings in the shower! Plays ukulele and hand drums. Loves Alternative to Zydeco. Promotes bands and independent artists through ANITA STEWART PROMOTIONS.Female musicians through YES SHE ROCKS. Writes, fights for a green environment, pure water, clean food. Preparing for retirement. Knits, paints and explores in nature with her camera!