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Michael Franti at the Fillmore, 3 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Tuesday, December 4, 2018

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Many know Michal Franti primarily through his buoyant 2008 hit "Say hey (I Love You)." But there's considerably more to his story than that.

The Oakland, Calif.-born singer, musician and songwriter has led bands -- the Beatnigs, Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy and, now Spearhead -- since the mid-80s. He's an outspoken activist for social justice and environmental issues, and he's also now a filmmaker with his new documentary, "Stay Human."

And Franti, 51, remains at home on stage with Spearhead, delivering potent musical message of positivity that seem to be eternally relevant regardless of the times...

Franti has previewed his next Spearhead album "Stay Human, Vol. II" -- due out Jan. 25 -- with the single "Just To Say I Love You," which has deeper meanings than the self-explanatory title might indicate. "The song is really about finding new ways to express your love for somebody," he says by phone. "When you're in a relationship with somebody for a long time, maybe the gloss wears off a little bit. You forget to say, 'I love you.' You forget to notice the little things that brought you to that person, and you have your ups and downs and go through the ebbs and flows of a relationship. So the song is really about finding new ways to express your love for somebody -- not just saying 'I love you' but showing them through your actions."

Franti acknowledges that he's "prone throughout my life to depression and anxiety" and says he gets through it by "hearing stories of other people and how they got through it, then writing about it either in song or in film. You feel like, 'The whole world's on fire. What can I do?' That's the core of this whole ('Stay Human, Vol. II') album. That's the question I keep asking over and over again, and the question I ask in the film -- How do we navigate wanting to make a difference in this crazy world and yet feeling so powerless at the same time? I think perhaps more than ever people feel that way, on a daily basis, like, 'This world is such a shit show...' You vacillate between just getting depressed about it and wanting to do something about it."

Franti's "Stay Human" documentary, meanwhile, spotlights people around the world who are making some sort of difference -- such as a midwife from Indonesia who traveled to post-hurricane Philippines to deliver babies in the midst of massive destruction. The film has been screening at festivals and in select cities where he's playing and will go into wider release during 2019. "I meet people along the way, ordinary people doing extraordinary things. That's what (the album and film) are all about -- How do we hold on to tour tenacity and our dignity and our love when things seem so crappy? I want these to encourage people and inspire them like music and movies have done for me throughout my life."

Michael Franti & Spearhead headline Blaine's Not So Silent Night on Wednesday, Dec. 5, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Ben Rector and Brynn Elliott also perform. Doors at 6 p.m. $9.63-$45. 248-961-5441 or thefillmoredetroit.com.

Web Site: www.thefillmoredetroit.com

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