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Taken from The Register-Guard (Oct. 29, 2004)

Michael FrantiFranti and friends return

by Lewis Taylor
The Register-Guard

When Michael Franti wanted to voice his concern over the direction the country was going, he went to the Republican National Convention.

When he wanted to see the people affected most by the War in Iraq and the conflict in Israel and Palestine, he booked a flight to the Middle East.

And when he decided to lay the groundwork for his forthcoming album, he flew to California to try to persuade the producer Daniel Lanois to come out of retirement.

Franti hasn't signed a deal with Lanois, but based on his past performance, he'll probably do it. He plans to make a politically charged rock-reggae album starring the legendary production team of Sly (Dunbar) and Robbie (Shakespeare) and he feels an urgency to do it soon.

"You know how they say, don't yell fire in a crowded theater," Franti said , speaking by phone from Oakland, Calif. "I feel like we need to yell fire right now. This is it. I really feel like the Bush administration has hurt America."

Franti acknowledges that his new record won't be out before the presidential election, but he plans to make his voice heard. He comes to the McDonald Theatre on Sunday for a show with his band Spearhead. Sly & Robbie will open the show. Franti teamed up with the Jamaican duo after a friend asked him to come up with a dream collaboration.

"They're huge heroes of mine," Franti said. "I love their music, everything from early Bob Marley ... all the way up to working with No Doubt."

A socially conscious artist who paints in shades of hip-hop, soul and R&B, Franti got his start in the drum 'n' bass/industrial duo the Beatnigs and went on to form the hip-hop/jazz combo the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. He put together the soulful hip-hop ensemble Spearhead, and the group released "Home" in 1990.

Franti, who has played Eugene frequently, has a reputation for his live shows. A section on his Web site lists all of the audience "customs" that have developed: drumming, taping, sharing and nudity during certain songs.

"The audience has taken on a culture themselves," Franti said. "I feel blessed to have an audience that believes in our music."




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