Michael Franti & Spearhead land in Vail Friday for Snow Daze
Ryan Summerlin December 13, 2012
Reading a list of Michael Franti’s accomplishments can make most do-gooders seem like slackers. Franti is not just a musician: he’s better described as a one-man peace-promoting machine. Franti is an international CARE ambassador; a partner with Soul4Soles Shoe Charity; he created the Power to the Peaceful festival in 1998; he’s one of the founders of the Stay Human clothing line, which is made from organic and recycled materials; in 2011 he opened a yoga retreat in Bali; he directed and produced the documentary “I Know I’m Not Alone”; and he’s written two children’s books focusing on diversity and environmentalism. On top of all his altruistic efforts, he somehow finds time to perform and record with his band, Spearhead. Michael Franti & Spearhead will perform as part of Snow Daze tonight at Ford Park in Vail.Remaining hopefulFor Franti, music is a way to encourage others to remain hopeful even when times get rough.”I’m optimistic about the future,” Franti said. “I go to a lot of places that are hot spots for poverty or places that have recent disasters. You see both things; the pain and hardships people endure, but you also see the power people have to rise above it. Positivity, if you practice it, becomes easier, like working hours and hours on something.”Although he’s been touring and writing songs for decades, Franti is still searching for new ways to connect with others through music. Franti thinks technology is a great tool artists can now use to reach a broader audience.”When I first started out, I would get hundreds of letters that were handwritten,” Franti said. “We could answer maybe 12 of them a year. Then came email and websites, and we could answer maybe 100 (emails) each year. Now with social media, I’m able to communicate with hundreds of thousands of people. It’s a really great dialogue in that sense.”Known for his political activism, Franti was a strong supporter of Barack Obama in 2008. Now Franti wants to focus on ways people can unite to solve the country’s problems without excluding certain groups.”I believe in the ability in all of us to do our part, whether you’re gay, straight, black, white, or what political party you identify with,” Franti said. “With this last election there was so much divisiveness. Now that the election has past, hopefully we can put that all behind us and move (forward) together.”One band, multiple genresFranti said Spearhead is currently working on a new album. They plan on performing some never-before-heard songs from the record at tonight’s concert. Spearhead’s songwriting process often involves testing out new material with a crowd to gauge people’s reactions.”When I write songs, I always write them on the guitar first, whether the song ends up being a loud rock song or dance song,” Franti said.”Then I go out on stage and perform them live to see how the audience responds to them. We record everywhere we go and that’s how we make our records.”What makes Franti & Spearhead stand out from other bands is their ability to seamlessly combine the sounds of hip hop, rock, reggae, and soul into one fluid listening experience. Edwards resident Sara Lococo saw Michael Franti & Spearhead perform three years ago in Salt Lake City, Utah. Lococo said even those unfamiliar with the group’s music will enjoy seeing them rock out for Snow Daze.”They definitely put on an energetic live performance,” said Lococo, who is the communications coordinator for Vail Resorts. “I like his mix of music. I don’t think you can really define the genre that he falls in. There’s a pretty wide variety of musical sounds that he plays. He appeals to a large audience in that way.”An artist committed to many causes, Franti has been able to merge enlightening lyrics with an entertaining live show. At tonight’s concert, you won’t have to chose between feeling inspired or having a good time, because the music of Michael Franti & Spearhead allows you to do both.