By Caleb Calhoun
The Nth Power is not all that interested in entertaining you. Sure, when they play at Asheville Music Hall on Thursday, their impeccable musicianship, their incredible chemistry and their deep soul-jazz and Motown grooves will move your hips and soothe your head. It’s just that for Nikki Glaspie, Nate Edgar, Nick Cassarino, and Courtney J. Mell Smith, that simply isn’t the goal.
“Most people go to shows or concerts or whatever because they just want to get away and not think about the problems they have going on,” Glaspie explains.
“It’s cool to write songs about having fun and partying and all of that, but (with the political climate) that’s not what’s happening right now. We need all hands on deck. Music is a powerful tool and extremely influential.”
This is something that every member of The Nth Power has firmly bought into since the beginning.
“There was like a gravitational pull,” Glaspie tells me about the band coming together. “We were all like-minded and kind of felt the same way about what was going on. We just got together and the love for our fellow man, and our message, it just kind of came out.”
“If you look back through history, music is a reflection of the times, ya know,” she says. “You can listen to a couple of songs from 1974 and kind of know what’s going on. I feel like that’s where we are with our mission as artists. We have to say something because so many others don’t have a platform.”
Touring in support of their newest album, the live record To Be Free, this is exactly what they are doing. Those who have been to their shows describe them as inspirational, nearly religious, experiences.
Still, the truest of messages can be lost if communicated poorly, and it is the exemplary talent shining through well-crafted songs that has made The Nth Power a mainstay in the funk and jam scenes across the country. Every member of the band was already a successful musician in their own right before The Nth Power came to be.
Furthermore, they are all thoughtful, intelligent men and women who make it their business to know and be involved in the world around them. They choose to stay tuned in. They choose to learn about and understand the uncomfortable things going on in the world. It is these choices that color their songs.
In fact, while understanding the stance of so many artists to boycott President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, Glaspie tells me that The Nth Power, if asked, would have taken a different approach.
“I would without a doubt jump at the chance to play at that man’s inauguration,” she begins,” because it’s like, YES, you have to walk into the fire. You have to go into the lion’s den. We would play songs of love and peace. Songs we want them to hear.
“People do change and people can be persuaded for good. There are a lot of people being persuaded for bad but it works both ways.”
This influence, this message if you will, is their baseline, their heartbeat. They want to move you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It is, in fact, so important that they prepare for every show by focusing their intentions for the evening.
“Every show… we get together and say a small prayer if you will. Well, it’s not a prayer but it’s like a prayer. We each talk about our intentions and what we hope to get across to the crowd that night,” Glaspie explains.
The Nth Power plays Thursday, January 29 at Asheville Music Hall. Doors at 8 pm, show at 9 pm. $10 advance/$15 DOS.
Caleb Calhoun studied writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and music at a plethora of clubs and bars across the southeast. He is the author and publisher of Rosman City Blues and currently resides outside of Asheville with his dog and best friend, Dr. Gonzo.