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Tunes for a Monday Morning: songs for the spirit

I've been deeply in love with Nahko Bear's music since his first album came out in 2013, but living in a tiny village on Dartmoor, I've never been anywhere near one of his concerts. You can imagine my astonishment then when I learned he was coming to Devon this spring on a small accoustic tour, billed as "an evening of poetry, Black bear  drawing, artist unknownstory, and brotherhood medicine in song" with his friend Trevor Hall. Howard and I went to the gig last week, held in an arts centre in Exeter. The room was packed, the night was magical, and I'm so glad we were there. How these two open-hearted, unpretentious young men with nothing but two guitars and a piano between them managed to fill the room with such powerful medicine for body and soul is unfathomable...but they did.

This week's "Monday Tunes" come from both musicians: Nahko Bear, a singer/songwriter of Apache, Mohawk, Puerto Rican & Filipino heritage, who was raised in Oregon and now lives in Hawaii.  And Trevor Hall, a folk/roots/reggae musician who grew up on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and now lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Above: "What I Know" by Trevor Hall,  from his forthcoming album The Fruitfall Darkess.

Below: "Dear Brother" by Nahko Bear, performed in New York City last month with two members of his band, Medicine for the People: Max Ribner (on horn) and Tim Snider (on fiddle).

Above: "San Quentin" by Nahko Bear, a song about the man who murdered his father, performed in this video with Ribner and Snider in Philadelphia last summer.

Below: "Tus Pie (Your Feet)," from the same performance. This is my personal favorite of  Nahko's songs, and I couldn't help tearing up a bit when he played it in Exeter last week -- on solo piano (rather than guitar), sliding into it from a cover of Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Waters." (What a combination, connected by the piano's rich tones. Simply stunning.) This is a nice version of "Tus Pie" as well, sweetened by Tim Snider's harmonies.

Above: "The Wolves Have Returned" by Nahko Bear, another favorite of mine. The Exeter concert ending with Trevor joining Nahko on stage for a glorious rendition of this song, complete with wolf howls.  Alas, there's no video of the performance, but Nahko's solo version is lovely as well.

"I'm running the song lines, I'm wrapping my prayer ties, preserving the old way; the wolves have returned." They have indeed.

To end as we began, with Trevor Hall: here's "To Zion," from his album Kala (2015).

Nahko Bear and Trevor Hall

Wolf painting by Jackie Morris

The wolf painting, "Nighteyes," is by Jackie Morris.

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