Nahko & Medicine For The People in Concert : A Story of Magical Musical Spiritual Healing

A Journey of a thousand miles begins with one step


I discovered Nahko and Medicine For The People back in 2012 when I was living off the grid in 600sq. ft cabin nestled in the Santa Fe National Forest.  Their video for Aloha Ke Akua rolled across my facebook stream one fall morning as I laid in bed contemplating my own existence seeking clarity of purpose. Medicine for The People was just a seed at that time, but I knew then their humble universal insight would spread like wildfire.  Each year I watched as they sprouted, grew strong and began to blossom, spreading more seed of musical spiritual healing across the planet. A devoted fan, I receive their newsletter and check the blog often for updates and new medicine. In the year’s that followed, announcements of their tour dates would land in my inbox. I would open the “letter” and breath out a heavy sigh

” ahhhh, one day, one day I will see them in person.”

In hindsight, the many times I said “NO” or the timing didn’t align were worth enduring for that first time I was finally able to say “YES”.

At the end of January, that letter again arrived in my inbox with the announcement of 2016 Spring tour dates. This time I gasped.

They were going to be in Durango, CO, a mere 4 hours away, in a mere few weeks! Could I do it? Could I make it happen? How could I not. They were so close and a quick glance at all the other tour dates told me, this was going to be my shot, my time, my chance. This was a monumental opportunity.

I had some innate understanding that after they open for The Avett Brothers in July at Red Rocks, they were truly going to take over the planet.  I had no choice but to get to Durango NOW!

Spontaneously, I shot a message to my dear girlfriend Tina, whom I had lived with back in my Prescott, Arizona days and whom also now coincidentally lived in Durango.  We had not seen each other in many years, but thanks to social media, had kept good tabs and good vibes on each other.  I offered to treat her to the show, if I could crash her family home life for a couple nights. Of course reuniting was the most important aspect of our coming together ;). When I received the O.K., I just let go and began to ride the wave of logistics that would get me to Durango in 2 weeks.

My enthusiasm was on maximum vibration for several reasons. Truly, I spent much of my 20’s hopping around the American West Southwest and Northwest with just my dog and whatever belongings would fit in my little two door Saturn sedan. I loved being Solo on the open road. windows down, smoking a American Spirit cigarette, playing my favorite mix tapes (yes TAPES), watching the beautiful awe inspiring landscapes roll by. I would stop for sunsets, picture taking and serendipitous moments whenever compelled. I was on no one’s time, just mine, or time didn’t exist at all. It was by far one of the freest feelings I have experienced.  And I did it ALOT.

But life happens, ya know. Kids, divorce, new loves, jobs, commitments, responsibilities, etc… blah blah blah. Not to say these aren’t important, but I had somewhat forgotten how to say yes to my free spirit. Living off the grid was as close as I had come in years.

So, saying YES to a music show I wanted to see,  connect with old friends, drive through some of my favorite landscapes, stop and take pictures, and get lost wandering for a bit……..hells to the YEAH, sign me up.

And the day came…………. Just me, my dog, and a reliable chariot, I loaded up bare necessities and headed North. And off we went.

I had skied Durango many times as a kid, but seeing one of my all time favorite bands play in this little mountain town would be a first. I had no idea what the venue was like or what setting this magic would happen in.  So, the day of the show, while my friend took care of her family and headed off to work, I strolled down the streets of this historical mining town seeking answers. And I found them….I couldn’t believe my eyes! My heart was pounding.

” This is going to be SOOOO Intimate! So close! so personal! WOW! how special!” was all I could think.

I felt like celebrating and honoring everything that had brought me to this moment in time and as I turned around I spied in the parking lot a cute little food cart on a brick patio with eclectic table settings in the sun. It looked like a little European cafe corner. In fact it was Michel’s Corner. And Michel was French and Michel made authentic crepes and other delicacies. I can never turn down a great bowl of French Onion Soup paired with a good glass of red wine and so I treated myself. I chatted with Michel and warmed my insides, soaking up the sun, all while staring at the front of the Theater across the parking lot.

Does it get any better than this???? In that moment…no…that was the best of the best!

The evening started with the best date I’ve had in a long time! We headed over to El Moro Spirits & Tavern. Tina treated us to the most amazing poetic Manhattan’s paired with culinary delights not even my imagination could conjure.

  • Honey-Sambal Lollipops : lemongrass & ginger marinated red bird ‘lollipop’ chicken drumettes, green curry & coconut créme fraiche
  • Roasted Wagyu Beef Marrow Bones : house cured bacon shallot jam, micro cilantro, baguette
  • Pot Roast Egg Rolls : red wine braised flank steak, roasted garlic and herb mashed potatoes, brown gravy dipping sauce
Ok, people there is only one thing I can say about this place. If you find yourself in Durango, CO….. GO TO THIS RESTAURANT! no ifs, ands, butts, or excuses!
nahko trip 7

With our bellies full and our hearts delighted at sharing magical time and space together, we headed to the venue. The first ones to knock on the door, a handsome young hip man greeted us with a smile (which looking back, was probably more amusement than anything) and proclaimed the band was on stage still doing sound check and it would be awhile before doors opened.

No worries, it’s Colorado. plenty to explore

We chatted walking down mainstreet, where a bit later we eyed a small band of cute young dudes coming our way. A band it was indeed. Basically close enough to brush shoulders in passing, I stated, “Hey There’s Nahko right there”! He turned sheepishly and peered out from under his cowboy hat, threw a peace sign and said , “Hey how’s it goin?”  Then kept on walking.

I stood there like a giddy little silly fan girl, fanning myself and questioning my friend as to whether we should follow them or not. Not once did I question if this was appropriate behavior for a 41 year old woman! We ‘opted to give them space. I’m sure they had been swarmed many times in this small town. And well, I swallowed my pride and let that one go.

Then the time came.

The doors opened.  We grabbed a drink, shopped some merch, and chatted with some locals. Because I was extremely familiar with Nahko’s music I was committed to being as close to the stage as possible, even if that meant holding my older lady space among a pond of overly exuberant drunken college kids. I was here for me. For the music. For the movement.

Tina was quite content hanging back with some of her Durango peeps and taking in the show from a different vantage point.

I sang the entire time, until I was hoarse. I jumped up and down, threw peace signs and the middle finger at all the appropriate chorus lines and prompts. I Put my hand to my chest, cried tears of joy, connected with others, laughed and hoped it would never end. The performance was mind blowing! The music powerful and perfect. The band, personal and present. My Spirit so full of joy and gratitude. And then Nahko said it…

“And tomorrow night we’ll be playing a whole different set! See you then!”

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh . The pain! I was leaving in the morning. I didn’t know. I thought it would be a repeat show. I had to let go.

nahko trip 8
nahko trip 9

On the road again. Early morning following the show. The 53 miles between Durango and Pagosa Springs was the slowest, most conflicted, and hardest stretch of road I’ve had to do in awhile! I was torn! Should I have stayed and caught the second show?

But, I have to be in Albuquerque tomorrow to get my kids. ~ But, this is a one shot opportunity for you~ But, everyone is expecting you to be back today ~ You’re not that unattached 20 something anymore, there are responsibilities to tend to ~ People need you ~ But, if you really wanted to, you could set things up to be covered and you REALLY could see another show!….oooooh the voices in my head!

Tormented, I put Dark as Night in the CD player and sang along hoping to fill the gap..but only ended up crying because I soooo badly wanted to see them again, to feel their music and word in a live setting. To be moved.

It was about then,I looked to my left and saw flying low over the brush a bald eagle headed North, back towards Durango. My spirit knew one of two things.

  1. This is a sign to turn that damn truck around right now and go back and catch the show
  2. Our Spirits are SO BIG, so GREAT and SO POWERFUL and interconnected that it doesn’t matter where I am, Nahko, Medicine For The People, the music and spiritual healing will be with me WHEREVER I go.

The truck rolled on.

A few miles down the road, a whole gaggle of wild turkeys commenced on the side of the road. Turkey in some indigenous cultures is revered as the Giveaway Bird, the gift. The giving. I thought about what a gift  the experience I already had was. What a gift sharing with an old friend and sharing the musical medicine together had been. The gifts from the show I had in the car that were waiting to be given to others upon my return.

I realized that I had gathered up so much medicine in the time I had been given and now I needed to return and share it.

Before I knew it, the truck rolled into Pagosa Springs. I walked Freya along the San Juan River and stopped in at my favorite River Pointe Coffee shop for a pick me up and some morning grub. I watched the river flow by and wrote in my journal, reflecting on my magical trip. Time passed and I began to feel the excitement of driving through the Chama Valley and ultimately stopping at Echo Ampritheater to take some photos well up in me.  Time to move on. Great things await down the road!

I believe in the good things coming!

Nahko Bear

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