The future down a path of music rarely goes straight and the Waco Americana-folk-jazz band Medicine Man can offer a few examples.
What started with three Baylor University trumpet students now numbers five. Jamming together led to playing for good community causes, which, in turn, led to professional gigs for money. And the band’s first recording arrives a month before graduation, a regional tour before a future that members are, well, playing by ear.
The band releases its debut album, “So Much To Say,” Friday night at Baylor-area coffeehouse Common Grounds, a home base of sorts, with another BU-rooted folk-flavored group, the duo More Than Sparrows, opening the show.
Luke Hoeft, who writes much of Medicine Man’s material, started playing with fellow Baylor trumpet students John Burton and Stephen “Peter” Spink about three years ago and their jamming planted the seed for the band’s nucleus. Over time, friendships and benefit concerts they wanted to support, that nucleus added percussionist Ian Houston, violinist Helena Bandy and singer Heather Boswell.
Their combined instrumental talent extended far beyond trumpets, percussion and violin, also encompassing banjo, guitar, EWI (electronic wind instrument), accordion, piano, flugelhorn, ukulele and electronic Seaboard.
What they shared was a love for music and making it with each other. “We all love the same kind of music,” said Heather, now Heather Hoeft after she and Luke fell in love and married — another unexpected path of music.
While Luke takes the lead in songwriting, the others chime in with their styles and musical additions in rehearsal. “Everybody has a palette and we all come together,” explained Hoeft.
Medicine Man’s name suggests what got members together in the first place: their gift of music to benefits for such local organizations as World Hunger Relief, the Baylor Kitchen Project, Waco Family Abuse Center, Mission Waco, The Cove, and Shepherd’s Heart Food Pantry.
They’ve expanded to such local venues as Dichotomy, the Hilton, Waco Cultural Arts Festival, Waco Downtown Farmers Market and Common Grounds.
Two members have graduated. Heather now teaches while Burton is working on a master’s in music at the University of Denver and will fly in for Friday’s performance. The remaining four finish their university studies this spring.
That graduation on the horizon prompted the album, Friday’s concert and a three-week regional tour in June that includes stops in Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Atlanta and Nashville.
“(The album) represents a transition from a hometown band to seeing if we can sustain this in other markets,” said Luke, who also divides his time between Baylor studies and being worship leader at Twin Lakes Fellowship in Cedar Park. “We want to see if we can keep this ball rolling.”
Medicine Man members hope they can continue to create music and perform together as members go different ways, even on a periodic, ad hoc basis.
“We’ve had the tough conversation, the ‘break-up’ conversation,” said Luke.
Whatever Medicine Man’s future, it’s likely to be accompanied by music.