“I was exhausted; the music recharged me…who are these guys?” that’s what the sweat drenched guest next to me bleated at the ARMA One World stage on Sunday. The band was Nahko and Medicine for the People—creating a self-described “community experience. Spirited thump-hop storytelling. Earth-based-spirit-inspired. Working for social and environmental justice. Musical medicine,” for the BaliSpirit Fest finale. Someone else described them as “Stomp-Grass,” I experienced them as a fusion-powered evolution of folk that energizes and transports listeners to their soul roots.
At first sight you may not have imagined the topless, mohawked lead singer, Nahko Bear, to express such delicate depth and care in his lyrics or their delivery. It seems most of the nighttime bands at ARMA this year have been full of surprises and Medicine for the People was no exception.
Although not a dance band, MFTP’s grooves were energetic and danceable. The melodies and harmonies flowed cleverly with a pulsing rhythm; creating a beautiful woven tapestry that might have been from ancient times. Close your eyes and you could easily mistake this band for Irish or Native or Appalachian; neither here nor there, and that’s Nahko for you—part indigenous, part Puerto Rican, living in Hawaii, traveling the world, “honoring the ancestors.”
“There’s a message within and each will find it in their own time.”
For me, Nahko’s lyrics had a directly personal quality that cut through the typically trite and cheesy character of certain folk-based acts which carry socio-political overtures.
“There is no medicine on the television, so turn it off and turn yourself around.”
There is soul here; vulnerability; a willingness to tell things as they are without entitlement; without being overcome by the angst that other artists normally thrive on. Not for Nahko– Medicine for the People comes from awareness and empowerment without repression of the hurt.
“Don’t waste your hate, rather gather and create… You can do this you’ve got purpose. Find your medicine and use it”
Finally, we can celebrate an evolution of folk that is danceable and digestable as sound medicine. As a practicing Tama-Do sound therapist, I’m familiar with the power of music to stimulate, nourish, and uplift. Amplify and add 1,500 or so euphoric guests and you can just imagine a perfect crescendo of unity and community at the conclusion of this year’s Festival
“I believe in the good things coming, coming, coming.”
Thank you, for another terrific experience BaliSpirit Festival. May many more good things come until you return in 2013.
You can read a press release with comments from Medicine for the People about how the BaliSpirit Festival helps “prevent racism”. For more info on Nahko and Medicine for the People, visit: http://medicineforthepeople.wordpress.com/