MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD with THE SOUL REBELS at Electric Factory (6/5)
Friday June 5th, 2015
421 North 7th Street
Philadelphia PA 19123
All Ages | 8:00PM Doors | 9:00PM Show
Tickets are on sale Friday 4/3 at 12PM EST!
◊◊◊ MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD ◊◊◊
Michael Franti knows all about the power of music. He knows how it can inspire, uplift and make people want to dance or cry. He felt it firsthand recently when he heard the children’s chorus at New York’s PS22 elementary school singing “I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like),” the celebratory first single from Franti’s tenth studio album, All People.
“It moved me to tears, to hear these kids singing, ‘Everybody wants me to be who they want me to be.’ That’s who I wrote ‘People’ for. To let them know, your mission in life should be to be yourself and to embrace the diversity of others.”
It’s a rule the barefoot, 6-foot-6 San Francisco based singer-songwriter-guitarist and philanthropist has diligently followed over the past two decades, proactively creating and supporting numerous environmental, humanitarian and social causes. It explains the evolution of sound on All People, colossal dance beats and dizzying electronic effects taking the fore, as well as a lyrical sincerity that has always had Franti singing about what moves him most.
All People is the follow-up to Franti’s wildly successful 2010 release, “The Sound of Sunshine”, his highest charting album to date. Recorded primarily at his home with guitarist J Bowman, the two recorded some 35 songs before settling on the final track list for All People. For the first time, Franti reached out to collaborate with various writers and producers.
“It was like speed dating,” Franti says. “You’ve got a limited amount of time to write the greatest song you’ve ever heard. But when it works, it’s magic.”
The chemistry is evident on collaborations with multi-platinum Australian producer/songwriter Adrian Newman, who co-wrote “Long Ride Home,” “Closer To You,” “Say Goodbye” and “I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like)”, as well as with the seven-time Grammy-nominated Canadian production team The Matrix, who produced and co-wrote the tracks “11:59” and “On and On.”
Sam Hollander, another collaborator who has worked with chart-topping acts like Train, One Direction and Katy Perry, came on for the songs “Wherever You Are” and “I Don’t Wanna Go.” Franti says, “He also comes from a similar musical experience as I do, growing up when rap, punk and reggae were merging. But he also really knows the pop realm.”
Not that Franti has completely left behind the world of the 24-hour news cycle. His outrage can be heard on tracks like “11:59” and “Say Goodbye,” which was inspired by the Trayvon Martin shooting. Instead, Franti has both widened his scope of the world and pulled in closer for his most intimate moments.
Many of the love songs on All People are born from his relationship with his partner Sara. “These songs are about the power of unconditional love, born out of tough times. It’s rare to find someone who accepts you being your own authentic self. In the past I didn’t always give space for the broad spectrum of emotion, but this time I made an effort to write about everything I experience.”
More than ever, the songwriter looked to his primary influences for inspiration, referencing the wide range of work by music icons like John Lennon, Bob Marley, Johnny Cash, Marvin Gaye and the Clash. Of the sound on All People Franti says, “My favorite artists were great at pop form. I don’t think I’ve changed what I do. I just realized I can do it simpler and more direct.”
Franti and his band Spearhead are known for the communal spirit they create with their extraordinary live shows. The singer regularly brings down the barrier between the performers on stage and the people in the audience; whether venturing into the crowd to slap hands or pulling fans up to dance, sing and play along with the band. He’s a dynamic performer who effortlessly moves tens of thousands of people with his invocations. Watching him, you can't help but think about how much he delights in every moment.
From his beginnings in the post-punk band the Beatings and critically acclaimed hip-hop group Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy (who toured with U2 and Public Enemy) Franti has remained a devoted defender of the underdog.
For a decade, Franti hosted the Power to the Peaceful free concerts in San Francisco, at first to support incarcerated political activist Mumia Abu Jamal, then as a platform to speak out against escalating violence around the globe. He’s made several trips to hot spots in the Middle East to see war’s human toll with his own eyes. In 2005, he made the film “I Know I’m Not Alone” about his travels through Iraq, Palestine and Israel.
“I made a commitment to myself years ago that I wouldn’t just read about what was happening in the world,” he says. “I needed to go and experience it.”
It was on these trips that he realized people don’t necessarily want to hear songs that bluntly address the ills of the world but rather songs that will offer them some escape from their difficulties.
“I wouldn’t want to live in a society where anger is a force that gets things done,” Franti says. “Some people react by throwing a trash can through a window. I’d rather go play music in a school, prison or war zone. Those are the ways I choose to affect change.”
The same week his 2009 smash “Say Hey (I Love You)” broke, eventually selling over 2-million downloads, Franti’s appendix ruptured and put him in the hospital close to death. It was another moment that changed his perspective on songwriting, leading to the triumphant tone of All People.
“I want to make music that is timeless,” Franti says. “At this point in my life when I turn on the radio and hear my song it means a lot to me. When I was a kid I would go on these long drives with my family I and still remember the songs we would listen to in the car. It means I’m part of somebody’s life passages. As an artist, I cherish those moments.”
◊◊◊ THE SOUL REBELS ◊◊◊
www.twitter.com/SoulRebelsNOLA www.instagram.com/soulrebelsnola www.youtube.com/user/soulrebelsneworleans www.myspace.com/soulrebelsbrassband
2014 was an explosive year for THE SOUL REBELS riding high from touring four continents including Europe, Australia for the second year, debuting in China, selling out shows in New York City, collaborating with artists spanning from Joey Bada$$, Big Freedia, Lotus and String Cheese Incident to sharing stages with Kanye West, The Allman Brothers Band, Gary Clarke Jr., John Mayer, Jack White, Dave Mathews and Disclosure.
Closing out the year, The Soul Rebels returned home to record the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival’s official soundtrack, quoted by the iconic festival as “Soul Rebels, the soundtrack of Jazz Fest 2015”.
How do you follow up a year like that? As only The Soul Rebels can, with a jam packed plan for 2015 featuring touring, collaborations, festival appearances, recording a new album and a 3-night annual residency with special guests at New York City’s Brooklyn Bowl.
The Soul Rebels started with an idea shared between founding members Derrick Moss and Lumar LeBlanc – to expand upon the pop music they loved on the radio and the New Orleans brass band tradition they grew up on. They took that tradition and blended funk and soul with elements of hip hop, jazz and rock. Together with a group of young, like-minded musicians from all over New Orleans, they formed The Soul Rebels and set out to make their mark on the music they love.
The band has settled on an eight-piece lineup that can be heard on their international debut release Unlock Your Mind. The Soul Rebels built a career around an eclectic live show that harnesses the power of horns and drums in the party like atmosphere of a dance club. When not touring, The Soul Rebels’ weekly show at New Orleans’ Le Bon Temps Roulé is known to erupt with the kind of contagious, shout-along musical mayhem that The Rebels bring with them wherever they perform.
On their travels, The Soul Rebels have collaborated live and played with notable artists and bands including Metallica, Green Day, Maceo Parker, Galactic, Slick Rick, Trombone Shorty, Joey Bada$$, Prodigy of Mobb Deep, Big Freedia, The String Cheese Incident, Rahzel, Styles P of The Lox, Eric Krasno, Suzanne Vega and John Medeski as well as being billed on shows with Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Alabama Shakes, Estelle, Cee Lo Green, Arcade Fire, Ice Cube, George Clinton, Shaggy and many others.
The Soul Rebels have been a mainstay at festivals all over the world, from the stages at Bonnaroo and Outside Lands, to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, to Electric Forest and Austin City Limits, to recent festival appearances at the Bryon Bay Bluesfest in Australia, Shanghai Jazz Festival in China and the Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The Soul Rebels continue to chart new territory as they combine topnotch musicianship and songs with grooves that celebrate life in the time-honored New Orleans style.
"The Soul Rebels, New Orleans' finest brass ensemble..." -VICE
“The Soul Rebels are the missing link between Public Enemy and Louis Armstrong.” -VILLAGE VOICE
"New Orleans’ top-shelf brass ensemble The Soul Rebels...wind-wielding wizardry of New Orleans’ finest." -OKAYPLAYER
"Brace yourselves folks, these men are quickly solidifying themselves amongst NOLA's proud big brass elite... and seem intent to sublimate the homogenoustones of the contemporary urban music landscape with the lush instrumentation of our culture's root." -OKAYPLAYER
"The Soul Rebels are rebelling against one, albeit detestable thing: starchy paint-by-numbers music." -VIBE