Try Wait: Franti returns to Hawaii
BY GARY CHUN / firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Franti is a changed man, thanks to yoga.
A lot has happened to the frontman of the roots/social activist band Spearhead since he and the group last appeared at Jack Johnson’s first “Kokua Festival” at the Blaisdell Arena in January 2004.
Presented by Turtle Bay Resort
Thursday, Feb. 28
» Paula Fuga, 9 p.m. at Surfer, The Bar
Friday, March 1
» John Cruz, 7 p.m. at the Kuilima Point stage
Saturday, March 2
» Kaki King, 7 p.m. at the Kuilima Point stage
He and bandmate Jay Bowman return to Hawaii later this week for “Wanderlust O‘ahu,” the Hawaii edition of the popular “Wanderlust” franchise that brings together musicians with yoga teachers and enthusiasts. It runs Thursday, Feb. 28, through Sunday, March 3, at the Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore.
Franti himself has been a devotee of Vinyasa yoga since 2001, something that has given him a perspective to his socially driven work.
“After Kokua Festival that year, I took a trip to the Middle East to do a documentary that became ‘I Know I’m Not Alone,’” he said. “Particularly after my time in Iraq, I thought I was going to come back home and write angry protest songs about the then-war.
“But when I played on the streets for Iraqi civilians during the day, and soldiers in bars at night, I found out no one wanted to hear songs about war. They wanted to hear music that made them laugh, cry, dance, anything that could transport them out of their lives.”
Franti has taken that positivity to heart, with the help of the peace of mind provided by his daily yoga routine. He opened the Soulshine Bali hotel with his friend Carla Swanson two years ago. He goes there a couple of months out of the year to help lead weeklong yoga retreats.
“Vinyasa yoga is also known as flow yoga,” he said. “There’s a lot of movement between positions, with a connecting breath between each pose. It’s different from the stereotypical thinking about yoga, where people think it’s led by a long-bearded man sitting in the lotus position and chanting mantras. You’d be surprised by how intense of a workout it is.”
“It really informs everything I do. Before, I was always sore and tired from all the flying and driving while on tour, keeping late hours. I’ve found that Vinyasa yoga has made my body stronger and more limber. It’s helped with my concentration, to go inside myself and not walk away from my emotions. That’s really when the music is at its most potent, because it connects to the emotional core of my heart.
“I don’t think I’d be in music today if it wasn’t for yoga. Now, I’m feeling a real balance between work and music. It’s helped me create what I think will be Spearhead’s best record to date, with a single to be released in early March.”
The album will be followup to the uplifting 2010 album “The Sound of Sunshine.”
To learn more about Wanderlust O‘ahu, visit oahu.wanderlustfestival.com/tickets. Prices are $25 (Friday) and $17.50 (Saturday) for just the music program on the Kuilima Point stage, which features headliners Franti and ALO, the band that includes Jack Johnson sideman Zach Gill.