You know those shows that seem to revitalize you? The band grabs you and pulls you in for a few hours, helping you to forget about your shitty boss, or your next rent payment, or that deadline that’s creeping closer. Their spirited playing and moving lyrics cause a wild, uncontrollable smile to spread across your face. Your beer might splash up over the sides of your cup because you’re manically swaying to the beat. They provide you with a kind of positive fuel that makes the next workweek actually seem bearable. Nahko & Medicine for the People puts on that kind of show. They’re the kind of band that leaves you walking away from a live show feeling like you’ve had an uplifting, transformational experience — not just a fun night out.
The band has a really wonderful musical style that can appeal to a pretty wide variety of tastes. A first listen to their songs might evoke comparisons to The Tallest Man on Earth, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Jack Johnson, or Michael Franti & Spearhead. They blend alternative, rock, folk, and tribal music to create a playful, vivacious, and wholesome sound. Explosive acoustic guitar strumming from lead singer Nahko Parayno sets an energetic vibe for each song. Band mate Hope Medford provides the tribal rhythms that accompany Nako’s acoustic playing so nicely. Medford is a sight to be seen during live performances as she thunders on the djembe or cajón, a Peruvian box-shaped percussion instrument. The use of traditional percussion instruments definitely informs the band’s energy, providing fun pulsing rhythms that are sure to inspire a lot of dancing.
Nahko & Medicine for the People’s philosophies on humanity and our relationship with the Earth is so central to their recorded music, as well as their live show. Each of their songs offer uplifting messages about the beauty of life, the precious wonders of nature, and the conscious awakening that can connect all people. A lot of the group’s lyrics are a call to mobilize environmental and social justice. In a way, much of their music can be compared to anti-war protest songs prompted by the Vietnam War — it’s moving music that calls for peace and enlightenment. As their name alludes, Medicine for the People ascribes to the belief that music is medicine; it has the potential to heal hearts and minds. Their lyrics and the energy of their live show echo that sentiment. A verse of the band’s popular song, “Aloha Ke Akua,” sums up their passion to spread these messages and foster positive change:
My solidarity is telling me to patiently
be moving the musical medicine around the planet in a hurry,
‘Cause there’s no time to waste.
Got to wake up the people time to stand up and say,
we know what we are for
and how we became so in form.
Bodies of info, performing such miracles.
I am a miracle, made up of particles
and in this existence,
I’ll stay persistent,
and I’ll make a difference,
and I will have lived it.
Nahko & Medicine for the People will be following through on a massive summer tour in the next coming months. Their current tour sees them headed down to Chillicothe, IL for Summer Camp Music Festival and hitting a slew of other popular summer festivals, including: Wakarusa, Electric Forest, All Good, Evolve Festival, and Floyd Fest. If you can’t catch them in town, perhaps you’ll see them out on the road.
The night’s supporting acts will definitely lay the foundation for the high-vibration music that Medicine for the People has to offer. Folk singer and guitarist Dustin Thomas, and Chicago-based acoustic solo artist Jaik Willis are sure to get people into a positive groove. This is a really unique lineup of artists — a kind that the Canopy Club hasn’t hosted in some time. So, try to check it out if you’re looking to hear something a bit different.
Nahko & Medicine for the People with Dustin Thomas and Jaik Willis will be playing the Canopy Club this Saturday evening, April 27. Doors open at 9:30 p.m. and the show will start up around 10 p.m. Admission to the show will be $11. As always, patrons must be 18+ to enter.