In 2014, a year after Jahred and Shawna Namaste—the core of reggae-soul band Love Eternal—left Santa Cruz and moved to Puna, Hawaii, they wrote a song called “Go With the Flow.” It was inspired by a volcano eruption that happened a few miles away from their neighborhood.
The song was released in November 2017 on the Good Life EP. Less than six months later, they experienced a volcano in a totally different way—on May 3, the Kilauea volcano erupted right in their neighborhood, making their home and those of many friends around them uninhabitable. The lava continues to flow to this day, with air quality a major concern for nearby residents. A song that was intended as a metaphor for dealing with life’s stresses suddenly developed a new, more immediate meaning.
“It was easier [in 2014] to sit back and relax and trust that we could get out of the way. The lava was moving very slowly, and it was miles and miles away,” says Jahred. “This time is was less than a quarter-mile from our house, and we had to evacuate very fast.”
The couple stayed in Hawaii long enough for their kids to finish the school year, but then they came back to the mainland, where they had to completely re-imagine their lives. They are touring as much as they can, and in between dates they stay with Shawna’s mom.
“We’ve been wanting to go for years; this made it so there wasn’t really much other option,” Jahred says.
This isn’t just any tour for the group. They’ll be raising money for the people of Hawaii in need of help by donating money from each show to the nonprofit Pu’uhonua.
At their upcoming show at Michael’s at Main, they’ll be playing music, but they’ll also be telling stories about their time in Hawaii, specifically focusing on what it was like living through this natural disaster.
“It’s hard to explain losing a whole community, and that community losing their homes, their jobs, their school, the connection of the community,” Shawna says. “It’s not just one devastation. There are black particles in the air. Shelters are overrun. The plants are dying. Lava bombs are going off that sound like bombs.”
The group formed in Santa Cruz in 2003, and were an active part of the local reggae scene for a decade before relocating to Hawaii. Among other things, they set up the Rejuvenation Fest.
Jahred and Shawna are the only two consistent members of the group. They met on New Year’s Eve in 1999 at Saturn Cafe. They married some years later and visited Hawaii on their honeymoon in 2011, instantly falling in love with the island.
“When we met there was a lot of drumming and chanting going on,” Shawna says. “As our relationship evolved, we started writing songs, and it became our medicine. When we were having a rough time, we would write a song, and then we’d come back together to sing it.”
Though their sound is generally rooted in reggae, they don’t stay traditional in their approach, mixing in other elements like soul and pop.
“The message is more important to us than the genre,” Jahred says. Reggae is a great framework but we love all kinds of music. The songs come through with intention in our heart. The musical aspects usually form around that,” Jahred says.
They continue to process the experience of dealing with the eruption, and Shawna says that new songs about it are in the works. In the meantime, they’re trying to figure out if they’ll be able to move back to Hawaii, or find a new place to call home. And they are impressively philosophical about it.
“We all know we’re living in Mama’s house so to speak, and if Mama comes in and says she needs her space, you say, ‘alright, thank you’ and you move over,” Shawna says.
Love Eternal plays at 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 1, at Michael’s at Main, 2591 S Main St., Soquel $12/adv, $15/door. 479-9777.