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Taken from Connecticut Post (July 9, 2015)

Michael Franti and Spearhead open Alive@Five series in Stamford

by Christina Hennessy

Michael Franti and his band, Spearhead, will perform at the Alive@Five outdoor concert series in Stamford,on Thursday, July 9. Photo: Contributed Photo

A torn meniscus can slow anyone down, but if you are a high-energy musician, with a heavy touring schedule, it just about grinds everything down to a halt.

Such was the place Michael Franti found himself earlier this year after injuring his knee during a performance in January. He underwent surgery in February, and since then has worked to get ready for his summer tour with his band Spearhead.

“I have been on the rehab train every single day,” said Franti, during a recent phone interview. It’s been difficult, but Franti said since 1987, when he first hit the road, he has run and done yoga and other exercises to keep fit. “I’ve learned that in order to keep doing this at the level I want to, I have to really train.”

He also tries to eat the right foods, get enough sleep and spend time with friends and family. It’s a way of being mindful in what can be a chaotic schedule — a sentiment that is mirrored in the band’s latest single, “Once a Day,” which also is the name of its tour. It brings Franti and Spearhead into Stamford on Thursday, July 9, to open the Alive@Five outdoor concert series in Stamford at Columbus Park.

Franti sees “Once a Day” as more of a movement — an encouragement for all people to counter the chaos and uncertainty in life by turning to others to express joy and support. He says a hug or kiss will do just fine, as will finding ways to give back and help others through unexpected challenges.

The song, which is expected to be on the band’s upcoming album, was inspired by his teenage son, who last year was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, or FSGS. It has caused him to lose half his kidney function. “It ripped our hearts open,” Franti said. “But in the end, it brought our family closer.”

Franti took to his Facebook page last year to let fans know they are using “every means of medicine, nutrition and exercise to keep his kidneys happy for as long as possible and are determined to beat this condition.”

“ ‘Once a Day’ is a gentle reminder to hug and to love and to remember to be grateful each and every day,” Franti added.

Franti has used music throughout his career to encourage understanding and cooperation. His music is often upbeat and positive, as the titles of his hits would suggest — "Say Hey (I Love You),” “The Sound of Sunshine,” “Life is Better with You” and "I'm Alive (Life Sounds Like).” But he does not shy away from political or social causes. “Same as it Ever Was (Start Today),” a song he released in December, was in response to the recent tensions between police officers and African-Americans.

This San Francisco-based musician said he approaches his craft knowing that music can make a difference. Growing up, he remembers hearing the music of Stevie Wonder, Santana, the Clash and Carole King. Those artists wrote about the challenges that face everyone, he said. “It’s natural for people to try to run away from (challenges); what’s supernatural is for people to rise up to those challenges ... music is there to inspire that supernatural part of it.”

On a daily basis, Franti said his faith is restored by the good in others, which spurs him to return the favor. “I try to give back and I think that is the key today. We all want to find ways to give back to the world. We see the challenges facing the world and sometimes it is hard for us to think what can one small person ... possibly do to make a difference. My answer is ... take whatever skills you have and apply them to the greater good.”

Christina.hennessy@scni.com; Twitter: @xtinahennessy


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