A&E » Arts

Michael Franti returns



Spearhead’s message still getting out there

Who: Michael Franti’s Spearhead

What: Zoophorus

Where: Boot Pub Fairgrounds

When: Aug. 31

Get ready to be wonderstruck.

The West Coast’s top word poet Michael Franti re-visits Whistler with band Spearhead tomorrow afternoon. And the show comes with a bit of message.

Franti told one interviewer his goals is to "enrage, enlighten, and inspire people to become more compassionate."

And he invites them to do so at his own Web site, www.stayhuman.org , which not only posts news, but asks people to send in thoughts, poems, and music reviews for inclusion online.

The San Francisco-based musician says he likes "to write inspiration music, that helps people get through their day.

Franti’s inspiration comes from growing up as an adoptee in Davis, California.

"I always felt an affinity for the underdog, as I do in my music. I didn’t really feel like I fit in where I grew up, so there were some difficult times."

Franti is known for his ability to combine the funk with the serious, harsh reality with hip-hoppin’ happiness.

"I pride myself on creating music that celebrates cultural diversity. Around 1986, I was writing a lot of poetry about the situation in South Africa, while at university. Moving was a good way to explore different ways of living, and most of my ideas come from conversation," says Franti.

He combines sung-spoken-rapped delights with delicious vocal reverberations from his female backup singers.

New songs this time around include Bomb the World (Power to the Peaceful), a song that tells how "everyone deserves music. It’s a song about compassion and music as a healing art."

A new live acoustic DVD is due out later this year.

Franti and Spearhead packed the Whistler Conference Centre this past winter, beckoning encores from a sea of pleased faces wanting more.

The San Francisco-based father of two continues to tour with Spearhead, the band he formed in 1994 after playing with the Beatnigs and the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy.

While he brings his oldest child on tour some of the time, he doesn’t expect music to be children’s destiny.

"My kids have always been surrounded by music, and I’ve never encouraged them to be or not be in music," Franti says.

He works with others to develop his sound.

Franti hesitates to cite specific musicians, but says: "I like collaborating. I feel if it’s destined to happen then I might run into them while 15 minutes late for a show."

Serendipity is key, he believes.

Like any touring musician, he says there are "not enough hours in day." But he has found time to learn guitar in the last year and a half, for future use on acoustic melodies and to help him write songs.