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Taken from Herald Sun (Oct 03, 2008)

Michael Franti tinges his musical tour with politics

MICHAEL Franti has been taking his message across the world, saying he is trying to repair the damage caused by President Bush, but he's optimistic for Australia.

by Sam Kelton

Michael FrantiMichael Franti has just finished his politically charged performance at the Ripple Effect, a concert taking place in Minnesota only minutes away from the Republican National convention.

Still buzzing from the show that had snipers on the surrounding rooftops and secret service agents near the stage, the American singer says that despite the risks, his cause is one worth fighting for.

"It's a time when people come out and really raise their voice about their country, especially now that we've been through eight years of Bush policies that have really distanced us from other countries around the world," Franti says.

"I think it's time that we get our country back on track with a sane energy policy and ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."

"I've played to people on the streets of Baghdad who have just been bombed, and seen them clap and dance for the first time -- in a long time. People want to be transformed," Franti says.

It's hard to have a conversation about politics in modern times without mentioning the ‘"Bush" word, but Franti is optimistic about Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

"Your former prime minister was really close with George Bush and his policies. He led you into the wars we were involved in and now you have a prime minister who has really been a leader, especially in terms of climate change, at least from what we hear."

The songwriter, and frequent tourist Down Under with his band Spearhead, has always felt music and politics work well together.

"Music awakens parts of the heart and emotions that have been closed off, or that we didn't know existed," Franti says.

"Music can also highlight issues in the dark or raise money for various things."

Franti denies it has been hard -- as many other musicians have suggested -- travelling the world as an outspoken American performer during the Bush regime.

‘‘I've never really felt like I was judged because of our president or our president's policies, but I did hear how much people were bewildered at first by his tactics, then angered eventually. "

"So I look forward to a new president, whether it be McCain or Obama, and hope they can take on a spirit of diplomacy again."

All Rebel Rockers (Liberation) out now.
Michael Franti and Spearhead, Forum, Oct 16-17, $56, Ticketek.


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