By Anita Stewart and Elizabeth Lauro, Rock At Night Tampa Correspondents
Venue: Jannus Live, St. Petersburg, Florida–Michael Franti and Spearhead with Special Guest Satsang, February 9th, 2017
Satsang opened the show with their beautiful, feel good music. They are described as a 3 piece music collective from Montana’s Rocky Mountains. Some of their songs are reggae-tinged, some hip-hop, folk, soul or a nice blend of all of the above. The last time this writer saw Satsang was June of 2016 when they opened for Nahko and Medicine for the People at the same venue. At that time, they were promoting their brand new album, “The Story of You.” This time around, the band has been busy writing some new music and offered that to the crowd who loved it! Their new album, “Pyramids” will drop on March 20th, 2017. After their set, Drew McManus, lead singer and guitarist said he was giving away hugs and selling merch and he was still doing that a few hours later when we were leaving the show and we got ours!
Michael Franti is known as an activist and advocate for peace; a troubadour that sings about truth, life and love. His advocacy for the sick and needy is well known and his latest pay it forward organization was created by both him and his wife, Sara. “Do It For the Love” gives the gift of music dreams and wishes to differently abled people who would otherwise not be able to attend concerts and see the artists they love.
As the founder of the band, Michael Franti and Spearhead has been gaining fame and recognition worldwide over the past years and tickets to their concerts are becoming very coveted things as their shows sell out fast. Fans have to be sure to grab the tickets as soon as they go on sale. The band’s socially conscious music is continuing to revive the peace community. Their concerts are like mini-festivals; attendees are young and old, families, kids, tie-dye clad people and a real hippie vibe getting their groove on! This tour was in support of their latest album, “Soulrocker.”
Michael Franti and Spearhead took the stage and opened the show with a rousing performance of “Hey, Hey, Hey” and continued through their set with everyone in the audience, moving, clapping and singing along to all of the songs. “Sound of Sunshine” was played with a beachy theme, complete with beach balls bouncing throughout the crowd and a boy from the audience named Owen who helped with the vocals. The current lineup consists of Michael Franti, songwriter and guitarist, Manas Etienne, vocals, drums and percussion, Jason Bowman, lead guitar, Carl Young on bass and vocals and Michael Blankenship on keyboards and keytar. The new addition is Kelly Halloran who has been touring and making appearances with the band everywhere. She is a Tampa Bay native that plays the violin and she rocked the crowd! Michael is big on audience participation and connecting intimately with his fans. A handful of times, he got down from the stage, swung himself over the barricades and played and sang while moving through the audience! Towards the end of the show, the security guards let the children through the gates and onto the stage so they could dance and sing to the song “Say Hey.” This has become a tradition. The band did the encore with all members onstage singing a wistful Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.” A beautiful way to end the show!
Anita grew up in a rock and roll radio station that her father owned and has a musical family. Spent a few years singing back up. Now sings in the shower! She is a USAF veteran and was elected to local office and worked as staff on three presidential campaigns as a Social Media and Virtual Outreach expert. Plays a variety of musical instruments including ukulele and she loves drum circles. Her favorite music genres are all of them--Alternative to Zydeco. Promotes bands and independent artists through ANITA STEWART PROMOTIONS. She also brought SOFAR SOUNDS to Tampa. When she is not writing, she is knitting, painting, attending concerts and live music jams and exploring nature with her camera. She has recently retired but no rocking chair for her! She has been reporting for Rock at Night since 2014.