Pleasant New Music Discovery: Nahko Bear and Medicine for the People

Nahko and Medicine for the People combine the musical flavors of reggae, folk and worldbeat with prophetic lyricism to create a uniquely cultured and potent ensemble. Having first heard frontman Nahko Bear on Youtube's "Gondola Sessions," I was impressed by the complexity of music Bear mustered with only the use of guitar and voice. Warrior People, as performed on the gondola, comprised of a three chord chord progression involving a syncopated, mid-paced tempo for his strum pattern. The strumming, which incorporated occasional use of muted strings for a percussive effect, provided fluid, yet engaging transition into the following verse or chorus. While the guitar remained constant throughout the majority of the song, Bear's diverse and freeform vocal skills beautifully concocted the full musical creation that was Warrior People. Bear can be heard rapping the verses with an emphasis on both melody and rhythm. The chorus's provide the listener with a better glimpse of his singing ability as he proved a master of dynamics and pitch. As enjoyable as Warrior People was, the pinnacle of the song lies in Bear's message. The lyrics, genuine to his own heritage of Philippine, Native American and Caribbean, illustrate themes of perseverance, unity and cultural diffusion. Backed by the remaining members of the band when touring with Nahko Bear and Medicine for the People, Bear's influence in the song writing is most prominent among the other members, yet the addition of female vocal harmony, base guitar and percussion comforbtaly amplify the song to a full stage setting. Currently on tour, Nahko and Medicine for the People can be seen this February 19 as part of the Winter WonderGrass Festival in Avon Colorado.


Mar Lonsway