Afamed Hawaii Island musician returns at 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 14, to the Hilo Palace Theater to highlight his debut solo album, “Nahko — My Name is Bear.”
Doors open for the show at 7 p.m.
Nahkohe Parayno, affectionately known to fans as Nahko Bear, performed solo during his early career at spots such as the Hilo Farmers Market and the Bayfront Kava Bar.
“I will always remember where I came from. I still like playing on the street. True vibes,” Bear said in response to email questions.
These days, his band Nahko and Medicine for the People typically sells out performances at music festivals and concerts around the globe.
“When he gets out here, he’s in big demand,” Morgen Bahurinsky, Palace Theater executive director, said last week. “He’s not sold out yet, but I’m pretty much guaranteed he will be.”
The song “Dragonfly” on “Nahko — My Name is Bear” includes the lyrics “each piece fits into the next,” which could describe how his early years flowed into his current life journey.
“’Dragonfly’ is a symbol of strength and courage,” Bear said. “It also reminds me of a chapter where my vision was impaired and it was only a matter of time before new eyes would be gifted and a clearer path visible.”
Hilo and his time on Hawaii Island continue to tug at his heart.
“Like an ever-deepening love affair. I am reminded of how much a person can evolve every time I return to Hilo,” he said. “Sweet memories of my youth and of an old archetype that has been shedding and reinventing itself over and over again. I’m really excited to share this record, mostly (composed on the) Big Island, with my extended ohana.”
Bear said he feels humbled by how much his music has been shared by the “Medicine Tribe” in what he calls a “people-powered musical movement.”
The songs he chose for his debut solo album were written from ages 18-21. They’ve been heard occasionally at concerts and on videos posted online.
“I always knew I would record them eventually. I just needed to make the time,” Bear said between concert performances in England. “They deserved new life to be breathed into them and I finally carved out the time in May!”
His young adulthood was spent searching for and finding his birth mother.
He said he also found “solace in the open road, peace in living with little to nothing, joy in not knowing where I would be the next day or where I would sleep.”
Bear had undertaken a journey, seeking his inner self.
“I had to let go of everything I knew in order to rediscover what there was to know. I had to redefine myself and the terms in which to live by,” he said.
If he could have spoken to that 18- to 21-year-old, he’d have told him to not be so stubborn.
“I would try to address the abandonment issues, but I don’t think it would make any sense to him until later on in life anyway,” Bear said. “I would also probably try to convince him that the shadow is real and will eventually devour him if he isn’t careful. Be transparent, and clear, and have defined boundaries. Yup.”
He plans on lots of “cave time” in the future, cultivating his “inner and outer garden.” That will include ritual self-care and time with his horses.
“I’ve spent a long time working my butt off and I need a break!” he said.
The Hilo concert will be his 35th performance in the 48 days since Oct. 18 during his My Name is Bear tour.
He has performed in Boston, Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and several other cities in the U.S. In Europe, he has played in Berlin, Munich, Amsterdam, Paris, London, Belgium and several other venues.
Before he takes a break, he’s on the docket for Dec. 14 in the intimate setting of the Palace. He’s also scheduled to play Kailua-Kona’s KBXtreme on Dec. 15.
As of Monday, tickets for the Hilo show were still available at the box office.
Bear reminisced about his love of Hilo and the Palace Theater:
“I remember the late nights I used to skate through the empty streets of downtown Hilo. One night I walked by the Palace and Makana was playing. I stepped in and listened. I was entranced by his mana. I said to myself, one day I will play here and people will wander in because they feel my mana, too.
“Years later, I got to share that story with him. He laughed and gave me a hug. The Palace holds a classic, hometown vibration for me. It truly never gets old. I’ve cried my eyes out onstage there, shared it with lifelong friends and rebuilt myself many times on that stage. Hilo may never really change and that’s why I love it. It’s consistently the same. It’s hard to find places like that in the world anymore.”
Email Jeff Hansel at firstname.lastname@example.org.