By Anita Stewart, ROCK AT NIGHT Pittsburgh Correspondent
Dollar Bank Main Stage at Point State Park in Downtown Pittsburgh 6/9/19
One of the longest running festivals in the country, this 10 day event is the highlight of every summer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. India Arie opened the festival on Friday night, June 7th, Marty Stuart and the Superlatives were replaced because of an emergency on Saturday night, the 8th–but the show went on! Rock at Night got there on Sunday afternoon to see Nahko and Medicine for the People and our biggest challenge was parking as the downtown area was already jammed with bumper to bumper traffic. We got lucky and found a spot but the parking was $25.
Downtown Pittsburgh and Point State Park in particular is an amazingly green urban scene with little alcoves everywhere, the area surrounded by the rivers and bridges–so very romantic, with lots of places to sit, flowers incorporated into the lush landscaping, walking paths and there were tons of people! Right around the main stage there was a huge grassy area and further back, tables and chairs. Vendors in neat tidy rows, food and beverage of every kind, artisans, festival goers, families, singles, college students, “out of towners” and the rainbow flag was worn on T-shirts and carried by many in celebration of Gay Pride month. Pittsburgh is a really progressive city with a very modern mayor, Bill Peduto who was even featured in a recent PBS documentary about urban environmentalism.
The Tesky Brothers opened this show with their blend of very cool neo-soul, Motown, blues and hip country-rock sound. Even though their music sounds very American, they hail from Australia. They have been on the Sofar Sounds circuit and are traveling through the US during the regular summer festival season while promoting their upcoming offering “Run Home Slow” scheduled for release on August 2nd. The band performed a great set and pumped the crowd up; perfect music for a laid back Sunday afternoon. With four studio recordings already under their belts, there is plenty of their music to explore if you have never heard them before. Josh Teskey croons and sings like an angel and his voice reminds this writer of a cross between Van Morrison and Steve Marriott of Humble Pie.
Nahko and Medicine for the People took to the stage very close to 730PM and I was jammed up against the front barricade next to a young mother, Kristin and her beautiful little girl, Ariella who had a piece of art that she wanted to give to Nahko. They had just attended the Pyro Festival in Warren, Ohio the day before.
The band had undergone a few changes to their lineup. Currently the band consists of Justin Chittams (drums), Joe Hall who replaced Chase Makai who is taking a sabbatical (lead guitarist), Patricio Zuñiga Labarca (bass guitar), Max Ribner (flugelhorn), a brand new member, TJ Schaper (trombone) and Tim Snider (electric violin). Nahko covers rhythm guitar, keyboards and vocals of course.
The set was well rounded, with some of the old songs, crowd favorites and a few new ones including “Horsetail” (a very powerful medicinal herb that grows in the NW part of the US) and “Take Your Power Back,” a very funky dance number. Stand out performances included “Aloha Ke Akua,” “Love Letters to God,” “Dear Brother,” “Budding Trees” and “Black as Night.” Some of the most electrifying parts of the set spotlighted the horns played by Mark and TJ and Tim’s incredible and very fiery violin solos. The crowd sang the words to all the songs…
Nahko and Medicine for the People get better and better with every tour, they never fail to please their fans; their music radiates peace, love and hope in a troubled world–and we can all use some of that! Major dates coming up will be all over the US while hitting the summer festival circuit and big dates throughout Europe as well. Then the band will come back and tour through the southern cities during the fall months. Make sure you don’t miss them! See the upcoming tour dates HERE.
Anita grew up in a rock and roll radio station that her father owned and has a musical family. Spent a few years singing back up. Now sings in the shower! She is a USAF veteran and was elected to local office and worked as staff on three presidential campaigns as a Social Media and Virtual Outreach expert. Plays a variety of musical instruments including ukulele and she loves drum circles. Her fave music genres are all of them--Alternative to Zydeco. Promotes bands and independent artists through ANITA STEWART PROMOTIONS and independent female musicians, singers and songwriters through YES SHE ROCKS. Writes, fights for peace, human rights, a green environment, pure water, clean food. Knits, paints, attends concerts and open jams and explores in nature with her camera. She has recently retired but no rocking chair for her! She has been reporting for Rock at Night since 2014.