After initially getting together as a one-time-only band to play at the first-ever Justice for the River event in the fall of 2013, Bangor area musicians Eric Green, Jason Mitchell, Nick Bear and Lawton Mann decided that the music they were making was too good to stop. In fact, they chose their name — Justice for the River — from the event that spawned their music in the first place.
Two years later, Justice for the River has played gigs every couple months through eastern Maine, playing a blend of rock, blues, funk and hip hop. Guitarist Green, well-known to Maine music fans as both a solo blues player and frontman with his band, the Eric Green Party, says he’s been told they sound a little bit like a modern-day Rage Against the Machine.
“It blends all the things we do, because I’m the blues and funk guy, and Nick is a rapper, and Lawton is the rocker, and Jason is just a beast on the drums,” said Green. “Honestly, part of the reason I wanted to do this was just to have the chance to play with Jason, because he’s such an insanely great drummer. It’s like having a giant boulder on stage.”
All four bandmates are of Native descent, with Green, Bear and Mitchell all proud members of the Penobscot Nation, and Mann of partial Mohawk descent. To that end, their music reflects the shared struggle of Native people, and in particular, the fight to reclaim their water rights on the Penobscot River in Maine.
“The whole reason we got together was to do something about this whole issue. I’m not the type to protest or stand in a picket line, but I can help in other ways,” said Green. “We can say a lot through our music and our lyrics.”
While Justice for the River does not have any gigs scheduled for the immediate future, they have played a number of well-received shows at the Boomhouse in Old Town, Happy Acres in Alton and the Camden Opera House.
“That’s the beauty of it — it’s no pressure, we just play when we can and we have a great time doing it,” said Green. “But when we do it’s kind of this really special thing. It’s a really important issue and it means a lot to all of us.”
Green is also mixing a recording of a live show the band played in September. For more information, like Justice for the River on Facebook.