Oregon-native Nahko, born a mix of Apache, Puerto Rican and Filipino cultures and adopted into an American family, suffered an identity crisis from an early age. But, the unifying power entered his life as a healing remedy when he took up piano at age six. From his hometown of Portland to the shores of Hawaii or Bali, wherever he has traveled, Nahko is joined by a tribe of culturally alienated truth seekers for whom Nahko’s story resonates with their own, and who find redemption in his voice, guitar, flute, and drum. Whether solo or with the dynamic group of musical troubadours known as “Medicine for the People,” Nahko delivers a soulful dose of curative vibrations that moves audiences to dance, laugh, and cry.
Nahko is currently on tour (dates below) supporting his album, Dark As Night. And he heads back out to Australia for a run of dates this fall. These are some of his reflections on recent travels
What kind of vehicle are you travelling in, and what are you doing to outfit it for maximum comfort?
I wish we were traveling on horses and hunting for our food. But, today we’re in a big ‘ol Ford pig guzzler 15-passenger van with a sweet ‘lil trailer. We bring a lot of Indian blankets for max comfort, good books, and I write a lot in the van while we’re driving… it’s a good time to reflect and keep the story documented. This tour I’ve got my dog Koda with me too, so that brings the comfort level up a notch.
What is the planned playlist for your travels?
In the van we listen to: Twisted Tree, Appalachia Rising, Tribe Called Red, Dustin Thomas, Yeasayer, Butthole Surfers, Prescriptions For The Masses, Metallica, Bright Eyes, Knaan, Kanye, Freelance Whales, Head and the Heart, Trevor Hall, Tupac, Immortal Technique, etc…
Our playlist for our shows varies with songs off the old album and off the new album. We’re usually practicing one new song in front of certain crowds too.
Which of the cities that you’ll be visiting are you most excited about and why?
Well, our summer tour is almost over now but for the rest of the year I’m really stoked to go Colorado and offer our first shows in Loveland and Aspen with Xavier Rudd. Madeline Island is another amazing place we are going to this fall… traditional ceremony grounds for Ojibwe people and we are honored to join our elders there and share music and prayers again. Oz and Indo are also on the list before the year is out…new and old areas of traversing.
Which of your destinations are you most anxious about?
I’m not very anxious to reach any destination as I’m pretty pleased in my moment and where I’m at right now. I’m always stoked to get somewhere and excited for the offering I’ll be making. I guess Shangri La festival in Minnesota in September is a point of homecoming for me. We kind of grew in that festival and in that family so it’s always a place of returning and grounding.
What are the top three essential, must-have items that you take on the road with you?
Guitar, red Navajo blanket, tooth brush.
What will you miss most about home while you are away?
Farm fresh food, surfing at Honolii, my pup Koda, horses in Waipio, the kava bar.
Do you keep a diary during your travels? If so, is it public? Can we share it?
No I don’t keep a diary. I write a lot and am always working on songs and keeping the stories straight. I have a book in my computer I’m working on that documents my last few years. No, it’s not public.
What is the crazy thing you’ve seen on the road during this or other tours?
Everything is crazy all the time and the most normal thing is wild and untamed. I sat for 30 minutes trying to think of something that wasn’t crazy and this is the answer I came up with. What blows my mind is the amount of territory in this country that is being raped and pillaged. Whether it’s mountain top removal, strip mining, damned rivers, GMO monocrops, or fracking…it’s painful and insane to witness our willingness to destroy all that is sacred. What’s crazy is our ability to detach from the reality and severity of the earth’s condition and keep feeding and participating in the imperialistic rule of the land and it’s creatures. So we travel the broken and beaten land and visit its cities and its people and try and bring a little light into the darkness.
(Check out Nahko and Medicine For The People live here:
Aug 16 – Loveland, CO @ Arise Music & Consciousness Festival
Aug 17 – Aspen, CO @ Belly Up Aspen
Aug 23 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
Aug 24 – Redway, CA @ Mateel Community Center
Aug 25 – Eugene, OR @ Eugene Celebration
Sept 2 – La Pointe, WI @ Shangri-La Music Festival
Sept 6 – Clarks Grove, MN @ Shangri-La Music Festival
And enjoy: Nahko and Medicine For The People – “Budding Trees” Music Video)