Seeds of Revolution
Troublemakers in Paradise: Acoustic Medicine Sows the Seeds of Revolution Acoustic Medicine is the perfect prescription for healing a troubled heart. Masterminded by singer/songwriter/guitarist Rick Goding, the band offers a salve for the soul on debut album Seeds of Revolution, but it's not just a passive experience. "I want you to think about the way you've been thinking" is the challenge issued by Goding on "More To This World." But it's not a strident, harshly issued command -- like the rest of Acoustic Medicine's music, it slips subversive ideas into your ears atop infectious, easygoing grooves that seem almost unnaturally sunny until you realize that Goding and company hail from Hawaii. Goding began his performing life as a solo troubadour, both in the U.S. and Australia, where he lived while completing his medical training (more on that in a minute), but he struck gold in more ways than one when he made his home on the tiny island of Kauai, where he formed Acoustic Medicine after doing time in local reggae band Aole Loa. It turns out that reggae's island lilt translates pretty naturally from the Caribbean to Goding's corner of the world, and it's a key ingredient in the band's blissfully breezy feel, helping the uncompromising sociopolitical ideals in his lyrics go down so easily. In fact, the most important lesson Goding learned from his hero Bob Marley was how to merge the message with the motion - The Acoustic Medicine man himself puts it pretty succinctly, summing up his mission "to make people think and move their feet." For help with the latter, Goding enlisted the assistance of Hawaiian heavyweights like Kekai Chock on guitar and Kona Conrad on bass, who help form the core of Acoustic Medicine. The feel is equal parts roots-reggae thump, R&B/funk jump, and Dave Matthews Band bump, along with what Goding terms "a little Hawaiian jazz" thrown in. But in Goding's view, all that time spent getting on the good foot might be for naught if it wasn't part of a package deal with lyrics that voice his concerns about the way our world is headed. "Right now our country is being looted by thieves and liars who maintain a false two-party system designed to enrich and empower the political elite at every one else's expense," says Goding, who also cites the rebellious rock-rap of Rage Against The Machine as a key influence. "TV and newspapers are full of lies. We are on our way into some extremely difficult times -- I just want people to wake up." And that's exactly where Seeds of Revolution comes in. Even the recording process shows Acoustic Medicine's social conscience - the album was made in a recycled shipping container on the North shore of Oahu, using wind and solar power. The songs demand answers about poverty, hunger, and war - "The revolution starts in your mind," says the title track. "More to This World" attacks rampant consumerism and materialism, all the while keeping it's sonic sights on the hip-swiveling center of the band's sound. And make no mistake - Acoustic Medicine not only calls for social change and acts of kindness on a global level, they also walk it like they talk it. Those medical credentials Goding earned in the land down under made him an orthopedic surgeon, whose own acts of kindness include planning a mission to the Philippines, where he'll donate his surgical skills to poverty-stricken people in need. He has done the same previously in places like Indonesia and Fiji. But whether Goding is realigning people's physical framework or changing their ideas about where they fit in as pieces of the big puzzle, it's all about making that vital human connection, as he declares his love for "the adrenaline of performing, and the challenge of touching people." A singing surgeon from Hawaii by way of Australia whose sound blends the riot-inciting rock of Rage Against The Machine with the supple, sinuous rhythms of the Dave Matthews Band? It sounds more like the premise for an HBO series than the backstory of a real live band, but that's where Acoustic Medicine is coming from, and that's what makes the Seeds of Revolution so easy to sow. Rounding out his band of Hawaiian hotshots with percussionist Mario Rodriguez, guitarist Chris Hannon and drummer Chris Enriquez from New York City - one of the album's hardest-grooving tunes isn't called "Funky New York Love Song" for nothing -- Goding has overseen a batch of songs with a conscience, songs that revel in a slippery mix of rock, funk, folk, and reggae, all the while promoting peaceful change for the world we all share. Remember, the Revolution starts in your mind.