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Taken from Ottawa Sun (July 14, 2005)

Organizers set rain date


Michael FrantiThe only thing Michael Franti and Spearhead couldn't keep up with at last night's Bluesfest gig was an intense midsummer storm.

As estimated crowd of 12,000 deckchaired and dancing Franti fans scrambled for cover moments before the hip-hop singer's 9:30 p.m. set-time when a violent lightning storm hit Festival Plaza.

Initially, most made the best of the monsoon-like downpour, which offered some relief from yesterday's 38C temperatures. They turned City Hall's frontage into a party arcade following sets by Buck-65, Xavier Rudd, The String Cheese Incident and multi-instrumentalist C.R. Avery.

Festival organizers tried to wait out the storm, but after 30 minutes were forced to cancel Franti's gig after calls to the weather office reported the storm would last 90 minutes and was dumping hail in Kanata.

An hour later, Bluesfest organizers announced Franti and Rudd would do an improvised jam at the Babylon nightclub on Bank, and that Franti and Spearhead would do a makeup gig on the main stage tonight at 7:30 p.m. before scheduled headliner Indie Arie takes the stage at 8:45 p.m.

Tickets for last night's show will be honoured for Franti tonight.

As far as anyone associated with Bluesfest can remember, this is the first cancellation due to weather in the festival's 12-year history.

"We've had to stop and restart sets before, but never like this," said Board President Bob Provick. "The lightning became a safety issue."

Despite the cancellation, most fans took the news with good humour, particularly after word that Franti was rescheduled for tonight leaked early.

"We're really happy that Michael has agreed to stay on and play Thursday night," Bluesfest president Mark Monahan said.

Franti, the former Disposable Hero of Hiphocrisy and frontman of the soulful Spearhead, crosses many musical, social and political lines with songs of political advocacy and unabashed booty-shaking.

Never one to pander to an audience, Franti is a Ottawa festival mainstay, knocking 6,000 Folkfest fans out last summer, and breaking
out as the find at Bluesfest 2003.


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