A Heavenly Take on One Hellacious Week Night 2:
I just recently made the move back to Ithaca. I made this decision for several reasons. The number one reason was that living in Ithaca put so many events and activities right at my finger-tips. Every night of the week there is a new and exciting opportunity to for me to deepen my cultural awareness. Wednesday night I had the chance to see Michael Franti and Spearhead, one of the premier live musical acts currently on tour.
If you haven’t had the chance to listen to Michael Franti, I highly recommend you check out some of his previous live concerts available to stream at http://www.archive.org/details/MichaelFrantiandSpearhead. I would describe Michael Franti and Speadhead as a musical melting pot as diverse as Mr. Franti himself. Michael Franti was adopted at birth by white parents. His own ethnic heritage is somewhat diverse, comprised of Native American, African, and European descendants. His live performance digs into the roots of all of these cultures dabbling in pop, hip-hop, rap, rock, punk, groove, R&B, funk, folk, and the all encompassing genre of “music to get you out of your seat.”
If you had the chance to make it to the State Street Theater in Downtown Ithaca you may have noticed something special on Wednesday night. I have been going to shows and concerts with my family since I was a baby. The demographic composition of concert goers has always depended on what show I was going to. I knew I would see my fellow hipsters at Phoenix back in October. I saw my hippies over the summer at My Morning Jacket and Phish. In this respect, I wouldn’t expect to see my parents moshing at a punk show. Nor, would I expect to see my moshing friends at a Willie Nelson and Levon Helm Concert (which I went to by myself).
The crowd at Michael Franti looked much like a church that accepted people from all ages, walks of life, and religious beliefs… is the term multi-denominational? The crowd was as diverse as the music. Sitting behind me was the cutest retired couple dancing hand-in-hand. To my right was a husband and wife. The wife was holding their newborn baby, who was wearing the most adorable baby noise-reducing earphones I have ever seen. The crowd to my left was a group of roughly 8 kids who I couldn’t tell if they were in middle school or high school either way they were out way too late for a school night (but kudos to their parents for letting them attend this show)!!!
Michael Franti knows that his audience is one of a kind, and he takes the time to give back his appreciation. For a while he disappeared to give an intimate ballad performance to his fans viewing from the upper deck of the theater. Another song he sang from the middle of his front-row fans. And, towards the end of his set he called up all of his “children,” showcasing that you can be a child under the age of six or a child over the age of sixty so long as your childish spirit is alive and kicking.
It is my opinion that music has the ability to unite sworn enemies. Music helps to bond everlasting friendships. Music paints a picture in my memory of a time and a place. From this day forward, whenever I listen to Michael Franti and Spearhead I will picture a culturally diverse masterpiece of a fan-base dancing around in my head every time I blink. Please, listen to my advice on this one and check him out the next time he comes to your town. I might just be there.