Taken from New Times SLO (Sep 18, 2008)
Power to the peaceful
Michael Franti and Spearhead rock Pozo's first Green Music Festival
by Kathy Johnston
Protest and pacifism combine with a powerful pulse in the music of Michael Franti and Spearhead, headlining the Green Music Festival at the Pozo Saloon on Saturday, Sept. 20.
PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHAEL FRANTI AND SPEARHEAD
Musical activist Michael Franti loves to make people dance. And think. And connect with each other. What better choice could there be to headline the first-ever Green Music Festival on the lawn at the Pozo Saloon?
The powerful reggae-soaked rhythms on his newly released recording All Rebel Rockers are infused with conscious lyrics reflecting political, social, and environmental themes. But this is no dry polemic, it’s irresistible “riddim,” as it’s known in Jamaica where Franti and Spearhead headed to record their latest disc with legendary producers and rhythm masters, drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare. The result is a fiery and seductive mix that’s impossible to sit still to.
Taking the politics of war head-on, Franti traveled with his acoustic guitar to the war-torn Middle East to film an award-winning documentary, I Know I’m Not Alone (which screened outdoors on a wall near Garden Street in downtown SLO a few years ago). As Franti sings, “We can bomb the world to pieces but we can’t bomb the world to peace.”
His subsequent recording, Yell Fire!, combines protest and pacifism with a pulsing hip-hop-funk-rock-reggae rhythm that’s become his trademark.
In the mid-1980s Franti fronted the Beatnigs, a politically charged duo, before moving on to his next group, the cleverly named Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy.
At Pozo, Michael Franti and Spearhead will be joined by Kingston, Jamaica-based soulstress Cherine Anderson, who also sings on some tunes on All Rebel Rockers. Anderson finally obtained a visa to tour with Franti in the U.S., where the group performs in San Diego the day before their Pozo show and at the Hollywood Bowl the day after.
The 1st Annual Pozo Green Music Festival on Saturday, Sept. 20 is co-presented by Grateful Family, whose founder Kevin Costigliolo has been planning such an event for years. It will feature a solar-powered side stage with local musical performers Still Time, Mind’s Eye, Anthony Roselli, and Shannon Moore. Biodiesel generators will power the main stage. Vegetarian and even vegan fare will be on sale, alone with the famous Pozo barbecue.
Music starts at 2 p.m. with Mind’s Eye at 2:30 p.m., Still Time goes on at 4:50 p.m., and Franti and the gang are expected to take over the main stage at 8 p.m., just in time for an incredible light show to go with the performance.
Tickets are $33.50, available in advance at Cheap Thrills, Aardvark Music, and pozosaloon.com, or at the show.
As the towering, barefoot Franti exhorts his always-moving audience, “We don’t stop!”