Taken from al.com (May 20, 2012)
Mr. Hangout Fest: Michael Franti speaks about his third appearance at the festival
by Dennis Pillion, al.com
Hangout Music Fest early Sunday 5-20-12
GULF SHORES, Alabama -- If playing three straight years of the Hangout Music Fest, and having a generally pleasant "island time" attitude year-round, didn't make Michael Franti an honorary local, his official key to the city of Gulf Shores now has.
If there's any one artist whose personal philosophy most closely matches that of Hangout founder Shaul Zislin, it's Franti, who is never confined to stages he performs on. He'd rather sing and strum from the beach, surrounded by those he came to share fellowship with.
And so it was Sunday afternoon. Under a generally cloudless sky, the California rocker and his band Spearhead took the stage and for more than an hour payed homage to the sunshine basking down on everyone, and the love shared between.
"It's lovely in the sunshine," said Franti, after positioning himself about 100 feet deep in the crowd of at least 5,000, six-string acoustic in hand. He and Spearhead played upbeat versions of "Hello Bonjour," "Sound of Sunshine" and "Yell Fire" within the first few minutes of his set, before Franti turned to his first experience as a Hangout artist in 2010.
He said he's watched the festival grow from within over its first three years, and was encouraged considering the first year's attendance suffered due to the BP oil spill.
"One day we're going to sit back and talk about how we used to drill in the ocean and fight wars over oil," Franti said. "All the while sitting with the sun shining over us all."
Later in the show, Franti welcomed several artists on stage to sing the lover's ballad "Life is Better with You," including Bay Minette phenom Kristy Lee and Alex Ebert of the band Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, which followed Franti on the Hangout Stage Sunday afternoon.
Lee was easily recognizable in her trademark hat and bandana, and her voice was very clear in the chorus, though it was the only song she was on stage for.
Franti wrapped things up, echoing the resounding chorus from his massive hit single "Say Hey."
"I love you, I love you, I love you."
Considering he was presented with the key to the city moments later, it's safe to say Gulf Shores officially loves you too, Michael. As does its premiere music festival.
Taken from al.com (May 20, 2012)
Michael Franti gets key to Gulf Shores during Hangout Fest
by Michael Dumas, Press-Register
Michael Franti performs at the Hangout Music Fest
Sunday, May 20, 2012. (Matt Cuthbert / al.com)
GULF SHORES, Alabama -- There's never been a Hangout Music Fest without the upbeat beach vibes of Michael Franti and Spearhead, and now the Oakland, California native has received an honorary key to the city of Gulf Shores.
Franti spoke to al.com about his third time playing Hangout Fest from the media area just before the Flaming Lips took the stage on Sunday.
"It's just an honor to be invited back," Franti said. "This festival is marked on our tour calendar with a big red heart around it.
"We love the beach, we love the people, and we love being in Alabama."
Franti mentioned both in his Sunday afternoon set on the Hangout Main Stage and in the interview after the set how far the beach had come since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
"It's symbolic for me because this is an area that has been hit so hard environmentally and economically and to see it bounce back and to see music be a part of that is really special," he said. "It's an example for the rest of the country and the rest of the world."
Keep checking al.com/hangout for more Hangout Fest coverage, including tons of photos and video of the artists and the crowds here in Gulf Shores.