Reflect, refresh at Wanderlust O‘ahu
BY MINDY PENNYBACKER / firstname.lastname@example.org
There are many quick ways to gain a fresh perspective: falling down a rabbit hole, diving through a wave or going bottom-up in downward dog, to name a few. Starting next week, you can reawaken your senses at Wanderlust O‘ahu, the itinerant yoga, music, arts, culture and eco-friendly festival returning for its third year to Turtle Bay Resort.
The festival grounds are open to the public, and visitors are invited to listen to the oms, feel the vibe and visit the art exhibits and outdoor Kuilima Market, which sells local crafts and artisanal foods, as well as breathe the North Shore’s clean salt air.
WANDERLUST O‘AHU 2015
With Nahko and Medicine for the People and Brett Dennen
» Where: Turtle Bay Resort
“Just being near the ocean, our breath relaxes to almost the same ratio as the waves — six to eight beats per minute — in that motion of inhale and exhale that is the basis of all yoga,” said celebrated yoga teacher Shiva Rea, who will be teaching vinyasa classes, speaking by phone from her home in Malibu, Calif.
For music fans there will be concerts on Feb. 27 headlined by soulful hip-hop storyteller Nahko and Medicine for the People, and on Feb. 28 starring indie folk-rocker Brett Dennen. The shows continue until midnight Feb. 27 and 11:30 p.m. Feb. 28 with chill yoga sounds, Krishna dub and more.
Entry to yoga seminars and other classes must be purchased in packages, which permit admission to three classes on one day and music shows on all days.
The healing theme of Wanderlust O‘ahu this year is very much in sync with his music, Nahko said in a recent phone interview from California, where he was touring with Chase Makai O’Friel and Hope Medford of Medicine for the People.
His music — a percussive, soulful blend of hip-hop, reggae and folk — has been compared to Bob Marley. Nahko credits Bob Dylan as his first inspiration, and some of his ballads, such as “Aloha Ke Akua,” have echoes of Taj Mahal, a Hawaii resident like Nahko and O’Friel.
Nahko said his new single, “Wash It Away,” began “out of my connection to (musician) Xavier Rudd, doing ceremony with him. … It’s about our grandmothers, and our connection with aboriginal peoples and their stories.”
Of mixed Apache, Puerto Rican and Filipino descent, raised by a Caucasian adoptive family, Nahko’s songs tell stories of childhood pain and youthful alienation and substance abuse from a personal and cultural standpoint, melding social criticism and activism with a call for peace.
“My message is to bridge cultural gaps and journey towards personal and communal healing,” he said.
Nahko has lived on a Big Island farm for a decade, but this is his first time at the Oahu festival. The surfer and yoga practitioner will also co-teach a couple of classes: Surfing 101 and Vampire Love Bite: Sweet Hip Nectar, the latter with yoga celebrity and Blissology founder Eoin Finn.
“Nahko and I are surf buddies,” said Finn, a former Paia, Maui, resident. “We’ve done a few of these Wanderlust classes together, and they are always magic.”
Speaking by phone from New Zealand, Finn said Blissology incorporates surf, martial arts and dance moves in “a ritual that honors our bodies, nature and community. … That’s the path to healing and happiness.”
A like-minded soul at Wanderlust will be yoga teacher Seane Corn, who works with grass-roots organizations in the U.S. and abroad to raise money for “whatever their community needs are — building a school, a halfway house or ecological bakery.”
Corn’s work with all groups, from families in shelters to Wanderlust students, focuses on reducing environmental stressors and detoxifying the body and emotions.
Nature inspires the songwriting and performances of Brett Dennen, a spritely, unpretentious Californian who plays mellow indie rock and folk in a bouncy, predominantly major key.
Dennen said he’s been raising money for hospitals in undeveloped countries by playing music on hiking and climbing expeditions. He recently returned from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to benefit the nonprofit The Impact Plan’s project of founding a pediatric oncology center in a hospital in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
In his fifth album, “Smoke and Mirrors,” Dennen, who first picked up a guitar as a camp counselor in the Sierra Nevada, sounds unafraid to be sweet in a cool, comforting, almost detached sort of way. His song “Darlin’ Do Not Fear,” for instance, evokes some of the tone and lilt of Ben Harper and Jack Johnson.
“I’m in your sister town, Bend, Ore. There’s some connection with Oregon and Hawaii,” Dennen said by phone.
A self-described surfing enthusiast, Dennen said he hopes to borrow a board while at Turtle Bay and to meet surfer and yogi Gerry Lopez. He’ll play Maui before he comes to Turtle Bay and then go to Kauai “where I have friends, just to chill and hang out and do some writing, maybe hike the Na Pali Coast.”
What will he play at Turtle Bay? Dennen laughed.
“Some of the songs I’ve written. I don’t know exactly which ones yet. I’ll take requests.”
A resident of Venice Beach and the Sierra Nevada mountains, he also tries to paint in watercolors every day.
“I get inspiration from all over the place but definitely do my best work in nature. It gives me this overwhelming sense of connection and peace,” Dennen said.
There will be many paths to reawaken body, soul and creative spirit at Wanderlust O‘ahu. Activities include nature walks on the North Shore and talks by local experts including Ian Akahi Masterson and Douglass Cole, considering the area’s spiritual, cultural and environmental significance and strategies to protect it.