"As an indigenous mutt, I have the unique gift to create bridges between many communities through music, activism and social work," says Nahko Bear, the singer, songwriter and band leader of the worldly collective that carries his name. His project, Nahko and Medicine for the People, is one that nurtures a mission and delivers a message.
Born in Portland, Bear's Puerto Rican, Apache and Filipino roots inform his music with a fusion of mixed cultural influences. His calling is advocacy through socially and environmentally conscious lyrics that swell into sing-alongs. The six-piece band performs its blend of rock, hip-hop and folk live, where band members' contributions on the horn, violin and kora elevate the experience.
Releasing his third full-length album this past June, "HOKA" is a Native American word from the Lakota nation. "It is a call to action," Bear explains. "It's what Crazy Horse would say when he went into battle." With native chanting sprinkled throughout, the record admonishes the state of the current world, while also seeking to offer solutions and healing through collaborations with fellow rising Oregonians, including the Joseph sisters as well as scene notables Xavier Rudd, Trevor Hall and Zella Day.
Fascinated and "inspired by traditional people in this country," Bear's battle includes connecting with both Mother Nature and native peoples. "Having had so much taken from them by the colonized west, their resilience and discipline to keeping their traditions and sacred places safe is so moving," he says. "I wake with a sense of hope and positivity because I know the beauty of the world. I know that life is a gift and nature is the spring that will fill up our well."
Inspirational in his own right, Bear encourages his fans to join the fight, to be the positive change you want to see in the world. "The collective consciousness and power we have in moving together in social change is imperative to understand deeper social change," he describes. "We can find solutions to our energy extraction within renewables, become involved in local politics, educate ourselves on water on all levels, etc. Get involved locally with movements that support from the heart, and not out of fear."
And although he's left the wet, mossy forests of western Oregon for the sunnier shores of California, "I am rooted in Cascadia's magic," he says, "but serve and protect many mountains and rivers across Native America and beyond." Yet, he still "relishes the waters and forests of my home state and find pride in defending its sacred places." And as he makes his way to Central Oregon, he's always excited to find a "solid community and interaction" with crowds there. Let Nahko and Medicine for the People unite peoples, incite positive action, empower audiences, and simply move your mind and body with mission-driven music that contains an uplifting message.
Nahko and Medicine for the People
Tuesday, Oct. 18, 8pm doors, 9pm show
51 NW Greenwood Ave., Bend
$28 adv., $33 door
Tickets at BendTicket.com