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Mighty Medicine rocks MSU

October 8, 2009

Lansing resident Larry Newhardt, left, and jazz studies senior DeShaun Snead of Mighty Medicine perform Thursday morning in the Union.

Photo by Nick Miller | The State News

She is a young, undergraduate student at MSU brought up in a family of singers. He is an older man who has played the guitar in a variety of bands throughout the years and spent nine years as a high school teacher. They admit they’re an unlikely pair. But the two members of the group Mighty Medicine have been described as having chemistry.

“People are shocked by that a little bit,” said guitarist and Lansing resident Larry Neuhardt. “But then they see how we are on stage and that’s all that matters.”

Neuhardt was introduced to jazz studies junior DeShaun Snead — who studies at MSU under Sunny Wilkinson and Rodney Whitaker — about two years ago through a mutual friend who thought the two should form a band together. For a while, the duo only had about six songs. But this summer, when Snead was free of school commitments, the group began to take off. They currently have 50 original songs, all written by Snead and Neuhardt. Several tracks on their first album, “Bloom,” are freestyle, including the “Dawn of Aviation” and “American Freestyle.”

“We’ll come up with things,” DeShaun said, “We’ll just jam and there it is.”

Despite coming from a musically inclined family, DeShaun didn’t get serious about
singing until she sang at a fundraiser and got a such a good response it was suggested she go to MSU to study. She is apart of several other singing groups on campus, but Mighty Medicine is her only group outside the university.

“We’ve really been working hard over the last couple of months,” Neuhardt said. “We’re playing out more than most bands that have been around for a year.” Mighty Medicine can be found performing in various areas in East Lansing and Lansing, sometimes at venues they created themselves. They’ve played at food markets, Gone Wired Cafe, hookah bars and once even performed at a grocery store in front of the checkout lines. They also came to MSU to play for the State Swing Society.

Brain Grochawski, a member of the State Swing Society, said Mighty Medicine is the first live group to perform at one of their meets.

“They were dancing. They had a good time, and they asked us to come back,” DeShaun said.

Mighty Medicine also played Thursday in the Union.

The sound of Mighty Medicine varies, as the duo often does cover songs from the Beatles, Amy Winehouse or Stevie Wonder at events. Their own material can be described as a mixture of jazz, rock and soul.

“We just want to stay positive,” Snead said. The duo tries to energize the audience with their performances, and reject lyrics which they feel are negative or depressing.

“We’ll be always smiling and captivating the audience, people are really enthralled by our energy,” Neuhardt said. “The No. 1 comment we get is, ‘you guys really look like you’re having fun up there.’”

And according to Snead, they really are enjoying themselves and doing what they love.

“This is what we really want to be doing,” she said.

Neuhardt and Snead both are working to make Mighty Medicine their main job. Neuhardt said they play about two paid shows per month, and will perform about five more times in order to spread publicity and encourage a larger fan base. Another goal, said Neuhardt, is to take their sound outside Michigan.

“We want to start playing outside of Lansing,” Neuhardt said.

Snead said they are planning to be in Atlanta during spring break this year. Their CD, while still a work in progress, already has attracted attention and they have been approached with an offer from an agent.

Local musician Elden Kelly recently performed with the duo at Gone Wired Cafe, 2021 E. Michigan Ave., in Lansing.

“Mighty Medicine has great energy,” Kelly said. “They are definitely a duo to watch out for.”

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