Michael Franti - guitar, vocals; Trinna Simmons - background vocals; Mike Tyler - guitar; Carl Young - bass, keyboards; Simone White - drums; Joshua Yudkin - organ; Sandra Manning - keyboards; Andy Kravitz - percussion, drum
Michael Franti has long been an outspoken political activist and environmentalist while blending the best elements of rock, reggae, jazz, and funk into his home-brewed musical mix.
Born of an Irish-German-French mother and an African-American father in Oakland in 1966, Franti was adopted by a doctor/professor and his wife who gave him a well-educated, stable background in San Francisco. While attending college, he became obsessed with music, forming his first band, the controversial BeatNigs. Combining poetry with heavy rhythmic music, Franti would later develop one of the most distinct styles of hip-hop, where his politically charged lyrics were always controversial.
Formerly the front man for the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, Michael Franti launched Spearhead, the socially conscious performance art band out of the Bay area in 1994. Although they never had a big commercial breakthrough until more recent years, they did manage to get signed by three different major labels and several indies. And through years of touring, Franti has built a considerable cult following.
Spearhead (which became known as Michael Franti & Spearhead due to a legal dispute with one if their record deals) became a popular Bay Area draw
after their first few albums were released. As a child, Franti was exposed to a diverse cultural background, which is reflected in his music, which features an innovative blend of several musical styles. During the 1998 tour, on which this recording was captured, Franti was promoting Spearhead's Chocolate Supa Highway. During the band's set, it was not unusual to hear one of their original songs morph into popular hits from other artists, such as Lou Reed's "Walk On The Wild Side" and Sly Stone's "Family Affair."
Franti continues to tour today with a completely revised version of Spearhead.