To say it’s a weird time that we’re living in is most likely the understatement of the year. From politics, to riots, to Coronavirus… social media this year is simply Looney Tunes. Music remains our salvation, and artists from each coast and across the pond have stepped up their games in 2020.
Not only have musicians become our sonic salvation, they have become our social consciences. Oddly, it’s like going back in time to see our future. Music will get us to the promised land. so to speak. One artist who stands out – even without a global pandemic – is San Francisco native, Michael Franti.
In addition to being an accomplished and articulate musician, he’s also known as an activist, humanitarian, filmmaker and documentarian. His sonic vision led him to create and lead Michael Franti & Spearhead, a band that blends hip-hop, funk, reggae and alt rock. He’s been an outspoken supporter for peace and social justice worldwide. He also has a podcast named #StayHumanPodcast which often touches on themes he is passionate about.
Franti has been touring for the last three decades championing these causes, and now he has a new album titled “Work Hard and Be Nice.” Through his music, he appeals to our humanity at a time when racist rhetoric is peaking and people are filling the streets protesting police brutality.
“I think it’s important to do (political music) from time-to-time, but I also feel like it’s important to express the full rainbow of human emotion… what music helps us do is … unlock those feelings that are so often bottled up. Our goal in life is to get candidates elected who can then improve the quality of lives for people so that people can be happier.”
We all have our opinions about life, politics and religion. In the past, those were the topics society said you didn’t talk in the open. Now, it is an everyday occurrence on social media. With that opportunity, it’s paramount that artist like Franti share their thoughts and convey a message that counters the hate culture that has arisen in the past few years.
Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Franti was scheduled to be on tour now with country star Kenny Chesney. This is a very unlikely pairing to say the least, but Franti says he and Chesney have become friends over the years. They are primarily focused on bringing positivity and connection to the world. Franti hopes that when they do finally tour, their fan bases can intermingle and connect.
About society today Franti says, “I don’t think it’s every person’s right to just sit behind their keyboard and be an a-hole to every single person they come across.”
He went on, “Whether you have the right to do that is not really the question to me. I feel like it’s morally wrong to just be mean to people for the sake of being mean.”
That’s the thing about artists like Michael Franti; they are good people. They spend their days walking the walk, not trying to prove they’re good people, but actually being good people. There’s a difference, and his fans know that. That’s a very big reason his fans love and support him they way they do and believe in his message.
The band is incredibly entertaining and their sonic vibe is electric and moving. The band features Michael Franti (vocals), Jay Bowman (guitar), Mike Blankenship (keys), Carl Young (bass) and Manas Itiene (drums). They are definitely a band that will entertain you and make you smile.
The new album is out now, and Michael Franti & Spearhead will stream LIVE Saturday, August 15 at 9 pm (Eastern)/6 pm (Pacific).