Michael Franti is a modern-day Renaissance man. Since 1986, he has been an active musician, composer, poet, rapper, independent filmmaker and social activist. His work, no matter the medium, is a swirling tsunami of mesmerizing positivity and possibility. But if your image of that involves a man bounding out of bed with a smile on his face every morning, you might be surprised.
“It’s a constant battle for me to stay on the side that believes goodness will always win out, and that there’s goodness within each person,” Franti says. “Sometimes it’s hard to really hold onto that, but I believe in the power of optimism 110-percent.”
Musically, Franti blends hip-hop with a broad palette of other genres like funk, reggae, jazz, folk, rock, dancehall, ska and even a little pop. The result is an undulating, infectious dance and love fest. He is also an outspoken supporter for a wide spectrum of peace and social justice issues, including opposing the death penalty and advocating for peace in the Middle East. He built and operates a yoga retreat hotel in Bali called Soulshine where he sometimes records, and he and his wife, Sara Agah Franti, founded Do It For The Love, a wish-granting nonprofit to bring people living with life-threatening illnesses, children with severe challenges and wounded veterans to live concerts by all different kinds of artists.
“I can’t believe how many Taylor Swift tickets I’ve purchased,” Franti says, “but it feels really great to do that for people who are struggling.”
The Oakland-born and San Francisco-based Franti calls his craft “a bipartisan message,” as referenced by his 2018 acclaimed indie documentary film Stay Human, which he calls “inspirational soul food meant to remind us all what it means to be human during these challenging times.”
Now out touring with a five-piece band in support of this year’s musical follow up to the filmStay Human 2, Franti says the album is an accompaniment to the film, not a literal soundtrack.
“The songs are inspired by the belief that it’s important to love fully, to stand up for what you believe in, to cry when you need to, to dance and connect with other people,” he says. “It’s a reminder to myself – and anyone who will listen – what it means to be human in this day and age.”
It’s a message echoed in the inscription on the inside of his wedding band: “Be your best. Serve the greater good. Rock out wherever you are.”
MICHAEL FRANTI AND SPEARHEAD 8pm Monday, Oct. 14. Golden State Theatre, 417 Alvarado St., Monterey. $56-$100. 649-1070, goldenstatetheatre.com