Nahko and Medicine For The People are in the midst of one of their largest headlining tours since forming in 2008 in Portland, Oregon. ext week, following a Friday headlining spot at Hangtown Music Festival in Placerville, Nahko Bear and his band will play Saturday and Sunday October 22 and 23 at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz. Saturday is sold out, but tickets are still available for Sunday.
This tour comes on the heels of a coming of age for Nahko Bear, exhibited in his band’s sophomore LP and SideOneDummy debut album Hoka. ‘Hoka’ is a Lakota word, an indigenous tribe from the Dakota/Minnesota area. It is a call to action: Crazy Horse would call it out when he went into battle, and Nahko’s call is to put action to the words that he says. Not just to talk, but to do, for a better planet, to challenge himself and others to make a change.
Sonically, Nahko and Medicine for the People is a gathering of global influences: from hip-hop to folk, rock to world music. At its core, however, the group continues to emphasize acceptance, sustainability, and growth. At the root of it, it’s relatable because it’s human. It’s not too far right or too far left. It’s right in the middle, and it’s something this generation is hungry for, Nahko says.
The lead single “San Quentin” is one of 19 new tracks that surrounds Nahko’s journey since their first record came out three years ago and chronicles the journey Nahko took to meeting his father’s murderer at the legendary prison the track is titled after. Give it a listen below:
I had an opportunity to speak with Nahko Bear a few weeks ago about the upcoming tour, the union and divisions of our country as well as some focus on the good things in front of us as well.
The Bay Bridged: Hi, Nahko! Thanks for joining me this afternoon, my name is Josh and I’m with The Bay Bridged out of San Francisco. I’m not sure if you remember, but we spoke about a year ago when you played at Founder’s Fest in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Nahko Bear: Oh yeah! Yeah yeah yeah! Absolutely, man! How’ve you been?
TBB: Well, since then I’ve moved to Santa Cruz, California.
NB: Whoa! Hey, that’s a bit of a different lifestyle.
TBB: Much different, much nicer for me. But I couldn’t help notice that you have not one but two shows coming up here in October!
NB: Yeah dude, double-header!
TBB: Is that because of the surfing out here that you decided to make a whole weekend of it?
NB: Well you know, every time we’ve played The Catalyst lately we’ve sold it out, and so many people love to come out for us in that area and it’s such a great venue, and yeah, obviously Santa Cruz is a great place to play, it just made sense to do a double-header and give a bit more time to the people there.
TBB: Right on. Since I’ve been out here I can definitely tell you have a strong fan base out here, between the different festivals you do like Cali Roots, and you have Hangtown Music Festival coming up in Placerville. I understand you’re getting ready for a festival this weekend? Which one?
NB: Yeah, actually it’s in Minnesota, it’s called Shangri-La, we’ve been going there probably for the last…maybe like six years now? One of my favorite festivals. I actually work with them on another level, they run a nonprofit NGO charity that I work with them on as well. We’re a pretty close family.
TBB: Awesome! You said that festival is in Minnesota, are you taking any time around that to stop in North Dakota at all?
NB: I am, we’re actually leaving in the morning (September 8) for Standing Rock. It’s a pretty remarkable time…just the amount of tribes that are being represented right now…
TBB: It’s unprecedented.
NB: Right? It’s just such a major moment in history…
TBB: I was hoping to get a comment on your perspective surrounding the situation.
NB: Yeah, absolutely. Obviously there is the huge media blackout going on right now, it’s sad to observe on the one hand how much our country turns the other way, you know, and with the amount of numbers that are showing up it is getting some attention, however, obviously the mainstream media is going to paint the picture of wild and out-of-control activists and natives and how they are going to be “disruptive to what’s good for the economy,” however, we have Amy Goodman from Democracy Now!, we’ve got The Young Turks, there’s some respectable publications that are representing and we’re getting good press on that level, however, ‘Is it enough?’ is the question, really, right?
I think it takes a deeper look at how we consider our source of energy, you know. How far away are we, really, from looking into a deeper sense of renewables? The hardest part is really the fact that neither of the presidential candidates at the moment are going to be standing in any kind of position that Obama’s in to handle that. He did stop Exxon-Mobil to a degree, but the hard fact of the matter is that until we’re ready to make that switch, there’s always going to be another pipeline and you know, I would pray that the collective of people that are coming together will really be able to do some good. At the moment we have no political standing, you know. The permits haven’t been revoked, they’re bulldozing grave sites, they’ve hired private security to scare away the activists.
I have a deep faith in what