Date: Saturday, May 24th, 2014
Line Up: Nahko & Medicine For The People
Venue: California Roots Music Festival – Cali-Roots Stage – Monterey County Fairgrounds. Monterey, CA
With a slight chill and clouds blocking the sky, Nahko and Medicine for the People brought their musical medicine to the Annual California Roots Festival in Monterey for the first time on Saturday, May 24, 2014. Like many artists performing at the festival, Nahko Bear and his tribe have scheduled their tour of the western United States around Cali Roots.
They have recently played shows in Santa Ana, California at The Observatory and the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, California and performed at the Joshua Tree Music Festival within the National Park. The group took a detour to play the Summer Camp Festival in Chillicothe, Illinois with Primus, Slightly Stoopid, Matisyahu, and Groundation on May 22nd and 23rd.
Nahko Bear’s acoustic guitar introduced itself to the tribe while Hope Medford created the beats on her cajón. The rest of the band joined in on the song “Pueo” and got the crowd chanting, “If we are one then why are we all divided?” The Cali Roots Stage area quickly filled up to catch the most energetic band of the festival up to this point. For nearly twelve minutes, the harmonies and beats echoed across the fairgrounds with the intensity of tribal war cries. Nahko finished the first song, reminding us that no one is alone this weekend.
With a smooth transition into “Aloha Ke Akua”, meaning, “God is Love” in Hawaiian, Nahko praised the language for promoting the breath of life as the massive audience hollered “ALOHA!” in return. He looked to the sky and sang how “in the moment I am struggling to trust the divinity of all the god’s and what the fuck they have planned for us” with a responsive cry from the confident congregation.
“Words are very powerful and language is very powerful” Nahko said, “and when you put those two together and the intention behind it and around so much f*#@ing radical music behind it…shit happens” just as the sun peaked through the clouds for the first time all day.
The aroma of sage eased into my nose, the band continued with Manifesto II, and Medford thanked everyone for being apart of the Cali Roots movement. Nahko eased into “It All Starts to Make Sense” and the incredible DJ scratching ability he has with his welcoming vocals. Smiles, cheers, and clapping hands followed along with a band that is not afraid to speak their minds, call out wrongdoings, and promote the community his tribe and the Cali Roots movement represent.
Nahko showed some love to his family in the rafters to stage right and introduced his next song, “On The Verge” that is dedicated to the preservation and care of our water while it becomes vulnerable to the greedy and destructive practice of fracking for natural gas. People danced and united hands as Nahko chanted, “all nation’s unite” before breaking into a spiritual and inspiring flow reminding us “we shall overcome” and “we are the one’s we’ve been waiting for.”
Nahko began to sing “Handlebars” and with a quick flick of his DJ vocals changed the track to “Warrior People”. Judging by guitarist’s face, this did not appear to be a scheduled transition. The warrior beats continued and Jacob Hemphill of SOJA joined the tribe on stage to finish out the song. Hemphill brought his acoustic guitar on stage to share the progressive energy vibrating through the PA and credited Nahko for being such an incredible band.
The crowd cheered for Hemphill as he walked off the stage with a smile across his face. Nahko and Medicine for the People started a ten-minute back and forth sing off between themselves and the ecstatic audience. Voices were raised and an overwhelming sense of awakening came through every note, chord, and key.
The band said, “Mahalo!” while grinning back at the incredible response for their seven-song set which lasted just over an hour. The band was walking off the stage, but the people were not finished with the band. Chants roared back to the stage when a promoter appeared on stage. After a friendly but semi-serious “BOO!” Nahko was welcomed back on stage for the first encore of this year’s Cali Roots Festival.
Nahko and Medicine for the People will have a summer filled with music festivals. Their itinerary includes Wakarusa Music Festival with Michael Franti, Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas with the Thievery Corporation, Wanderlust, a solo Nahko appearance at Project Earth in Geneva, Gathering of the Vibes in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and many others. If you are planning on attending a music festival this summer chances are you will run into Nahko and his tribe.
Nahko and Medicine for the People Set List:
2.) Aloha Ke Akua
3.) Manifesto II
4.) It All Starts to Make Sense
5.) On the Verge
6.) Handlebars/Warrior People/Get Up Stand Up
7.) Black As The Night
8.) Unknown solo acoustic song
California Roots Website
Article by: Blake Taylor
Photos by: David Norris
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