Activism drives young musician
Like a modern-day Woody Guthrie, Nevada County singer-songwriter Bodhi Busick states his political and social observations in his originals.
“I believe we’re on a serious dead-end track. For the majority of history, the rich have set up social and economic systems where their lifestyle is increased at the expense of the working people,” he said.
Busick, 25, doesn’t just sing about the issues; he’s actively involved in them.
In between gigs, he donates his time at area benefits and causes such as Arizona’s Black Mesa/Big Mountain benefit tonight at Seaman Lodge in Pioneer Park and on Peace Center of Nevada County buses traveling Saturday to San Francisco’s anti-war rally.
“Any sort of thing I can do at a local level to contribute to the movement of people trying to change the system, I want to be part of,” Busick said.
“We as Americans are one of the last ones in the world to wake up because of the large amount of fat we get to live with,” he added. “… If people’s stomachs are fed, they’re going to be blind to issues that make them think.”
Working for social and political justice has always been important to Busick.
“It goes back to where my mother’s parents were Eastern- European immigrants and strong union people. On my father’s side, my grandfather was a labor union organizer organizing the Mexican immigrants, of which my grandmother was a seamstress,” Busick said.
He spent a few years away from Nevada County in Washington state and Montana, then went to Nashville to hook up with the country music industry.
“It was an adventure finding myself, living a dream, living in my truck, playing backwoods country bars where you could see anything happen,” he said.
Busick returned to Nevada County a year ago to be part of the progressive movement and the community where he grew up.
Busick has played solo and with his band (Gary Campus on percussion, Cedar Hennings on bass, Skip Alan Smith on drums and Travers Clifford on electric guitar and mandolin) at least twice a week at community events and clubs from the coast to Reno. His originals mix blues, rock, folk, soul, Latin, island and bluegrass.
Alexi Bonifield, the Nevada County Arts Council marketing and outreach director, has featured Busick at events and profiled him in the most recent “Art Matters,” the art council’s quarterly advocacy journal.
“His Cooper’s gig (last) Friday was the best concert I’ve heard in a long time. I danced all night long. Huge crowd out the door. It was so great … Electric Bodhi with rap … wow!” said Bonifield.
Besides the performances tonight and Saturday, other benefits for which Busick recently donated his time include the AWAKENING Peace Vigil, two Elizabeth Martin campaign fund-raisers and the Nevada County Library’s Woody Guthrie tribute.
His band will be the last act at the Sierra Deep Ecology Institute benefit Nov. 9 in Grass Valley.
“It’s a good way to give back to the community, to say thank you, and it’s my duty as a citizen,” Busick said.
He may soon find himself in even more demand – possibly nationally – after his band’s gig at the Western Regional Community Radio Conference, sponsored by KZFR-FM in Chico on Nov. 2. The band will play to a few hundred community radio representatives from the West Coast and the nation.
“He’s well-known in this crowd; he’s got lots of appeal,” said Mark Bloom, a KZFR programmer. “The crowd will be programmers, deejays, general managers, folks who run the stations. It’s very effective to be here. These are the folks who can definitely get songs out.”
Busick credits Nevada City folk singer Utah Phillips with helping him here.
“He’s been really helpful in my having a direction and knowing what role I want my music to take in the world,” Busick said.
Phillips has performed with Busick a few times, including at the Palms Playhouse’s final Davis concert. They will perform together in January at the new Palms in Winters.
“I think that Bodhi has the energy of youth and the skill with words and a sense of melody and most of all a poetic soul which, though it may not get him to the top, will give him everything he needs,” Phillips said.
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